Title and statement of responsibility area
Arnold O. Brigden fonds
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Dates of creation area
- Brigden, Arnold O.
Physical description area
12.5 cm of textual records and other materials [Note: Includes 13 dry plates -- 25 photographs -- 11 glass slides -- 130 slides -- 4 loose films.]
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Arnold Brigden was born in England in 1886. His father was a Methodist minister. Bridgen came to Canada in 1903 to live in Toronto with his uncle, Frederick Brigden, who taught him the craft of wood-engraving and the emerging craft of photo-engraving. In 1908 he returned to England briefly, and in 1910 came to New York to work for Gills, a large graphic arts firm. He remained there until 1914 when he was persuaded to move to Winnipeg by his family to take over the Winnipeg branch of the family business, Brigden's Limited, a Toronto-based printing firm. He managed Brigden's from 1914 until his retirement in 1956. Under his management, Brigden's of Winnipeg became a successful centre for graphic arts in western Canada. Brigden was an active supporter of the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Winnipeg School of Art.
The Arnold O. Brigden papers were given to the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections by Helen Coy on April 21, 1982. She received the papers from Dr. E.J. Thomas, a medical doctor at Deer Lodge Hospital and the former president of Thomas Gallery in Winnipeg. Dr. Thomas was the executor of Arnold Brigden's will.
Scope and content
Although the provenance of this collection is Arnold O. Brigden, the bulk of the manuscript collection consists of incoming letters from Arnold's family in England and Toronto. These letters contain more information about Arnold's family than about Arnold himself. Order was imposed on these letters since there appeared to be no original order and in several cases, because the year was not indicated, it was not always possible to ensure that the letters are arranged in their original sequence. The letters cover the period from 1909-1971 with the bulk of them written during the Edwardian era and during World War I. Sixty-one letters were received by Arnold Brigden from his mother, Susie Brigden, who was the wife of a Methodist minister. Since Methodist ministers only stayed three years in one parish, the letters are sent from Barrow in Furness, Lewes, Peterborough, and Cottingham and they are kept in separate folders. These letters give a good idea of the problems and concerns of a Methodist minister's wife at the beginning of the twentieth century as well as concerns over World War I. Arnold's two sisters, Kathleen and Dorothy, wrote twenty-seven and eighteen letters respectively. These letters are an excellent source about young English women in the early twentieth century who are finishing schooling and finding their first jobs as teachers. Dorothy's letters are also a source of information regarding concerts and plays taking place in London. Throughout there is a continuing concern about money matters and the difficulties of maintaining a genteel lifestyle on a limited income.
The letters from Toronto are from Arnold's cousins, Bertha and Fred, as well as from Arnold's Uncle, William, who was actively involved in Methodist church activities in Toronto. Fred Brigden was the son of Frederick Brigden, the founder of Brigden's in Toronto, and some of Fred's letters refer to business matters, especially after 1914 when Arnold became the manager of Brigden's in Winnipeg. However, Fred was a professional artist and since he was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists and had exhibited at the Royal Canadian Academy, his letters often refer to sketches or paintings which he was working on. Two of Fred's letters contain small sketches of work in progress.
Also included in the collection is a letter from Charles F. Comfort, written in 1971, to L.F. Smith, Vice-President of Creative Services of Brigdens Limited, Toronto, thanking Mr. Smith for sending Charles Comfort a compy of the commemorative book The First One Hundred Years. This book, written by Edward J. Nicholson in 1971, is kept in the Department. A second letter from Charles Comfort to Arnold Brigden discusses errors which occured in the earlier letter which Comfort sent to L.F. Smith as well as a general discussion of the commemorative book.
Only two written records were actually produced by Arnold Brigden himself. One is a brief postcard (c. 1956) and the other is his travel diary, Holiday Jaunts, which gives daily descriptions of holiday activities at Bear River, Nova Scotia in 1906, Port Sydney, Muskoka in 1907, and Felkstone in England where Arnold visited his sister Kathleen for a weekend in 1909.
This collection also contains thirteen dry plate negatives taken in 1908, when Arnold was still a young man and visiting his family in England, eleven glass slides of flowers and the Canadian Rockies, forty-two black and white photos taken in 1936 of the funeral of King George V and Wisley Gardens as well as a wedding picture of Arnold's sister, Kathleen, when she married Will in 1915. The photo collection also includes 132 35mm slides (c. 1956-1957) consisting of pictures of European trips, camping in the Canadian Rockies and flowers. As much as possible, the orginal order of the photograph collection has been maintained.
The balance of the collection consists of fifteen postcards, most of them showing the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, England, and two pamphlets of Wisley Garden published by the Royal Horticultural Society.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery also has a collection of Arnold Brigden's papers and further primary source material relating to Frederick Brigden, the founder of Brigden's in Toronto, can be found in the Baldwin Room, Metropolitan Toronto Library. For a full account of the Brigden firm, see Angela E. Davis, "Business, Art and Labour: Brigden's and the Growth of the Canadian Graphic Arts Industry 1870-1950." PhD. dissertation, University of Manitoba, 1986. (microfilm and manuscript copies in Elizabeth Dafoe Library; manuscript copies also in Clara Landers Library, Winnipeg Art Gallery)
Immediate source of acquisition
This collection is organized into 9 series
Language of material
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Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
There are no restrictions on the material in this fonds. Researchers must abide by the relevant copyright legislation if they wish to use any material in any published form.
A finding aid can be generated from this description.
Two hundred and six photographs taken by Arnold Brigden have been physically separated from the papers for conservation purposes and have been assigned the number PC 72. Similarly, the commemorative book The First One Hundred Years is kept in the rare book room.
No further accurals expected.
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Inventory prepared by Phyllis Gillanders in 1989;
Finding aid encoded by Lori Podolsky Nordland on September 2002.
Quality checked by Mary Grace Golfo on 10 March 2017.