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Globe and Mail launches News Photo Archive

People board buses on Yonge, north of Eglinton, in this file photo.

John Boyd/The Globe and Mail subscribers now have a unique chance to view thousands of prints from the Globe and Mail's photo archives.

As part of the Globe's Canada 150 celebration, (the Globe hits 173 this year), we've pulled an eclectic selection of photos that range from a 1901 picture of the Forester's Arch being erected on Bay and Richmond streets for a royal visit to a Canadian astronomical discovery in the late 1990s. You can search the archive by date or Globe photographer, and there are special collections that cover different aspects of Canadian life. A unique feature of the archive is that it shows both the front and back of the photos, providing an unedited look at the newspaper's graphics process.

Starting with over 500,000 photo prints and well over a million negatives, The Globe faced the difficult task of selecting the images to be included. With assistance from the Archive of Modern Conflict, more than 100,000 prints were selected and digitized. New content will be added as the archive evolves.

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At first glance, the photos appear to be regular newspaper shots running the gamut from politics to natural disasters and accidents. When you look closer, you see that some of these photos include what appears to be Wite-Out and pencil tracings outlining figures. Some of the photos have been drawn on with coloured wax pencil, marking out a crop. In pre-Photoshop days, these were the results of photo editors preparing the image for newspaper production. The Wite-Out and lines were usually applied by air-brushing, which was used to mark the "clipping path" of the photo or to add more definition to an image. The coloured lines marked which part of the photo was to be used.

When you turn to the back of the photo, you find that in some cases the editors have left a timeline of the many instances a photo was used in the paper, including how many columns it took up and where in the paper it was placed. (For example: 2nd Front, 39.9 picas, 2 ½ col.) If we're lucky, they may also have included the photographer's name and details of the photo. If we're not lucky, we have an unnamed person or building with no date and are left to wonder why the editor saved the photo in the first place.

We hope our subscribers enjoy this exclusive look into the newspaper's past. You can start exploring here.

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