Joan M. Schwartz.

Joan M. Schwartz

Professor Emerita

Cross-appointed to Department of Geography

Department of Art History and Art Conservation

People Directory Affiliation Category

Research Interests

History of Photography; Nineteenth-­Century Photography and the Geographical Imagination; Early Landscape/Travel Photography; Photography in Canada; Photographic Archives; Photographic Materiality and Meaning; The Photograph as Art/Fact/Artifact; Photographically Illustrated Books.


A specialist in photography acquisition and research at the National Archives of Canada for more than two decades prior to her faculty appointment, Joan M. Schwartz brings expertise in archives, materiality, memory, and institutional discourse to her teaching and writing. She is cross-appointed to the Department of Geography at Queen’s and is an Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of History at Carleton University, Ottawa. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Society of American Archivists, and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, she has just been made a Fellow of the Association of Canadian Archivists (2022).

Dr Schwartz has published and lectured widely in the field of archives, historical geography, and the history of photography, and has served on the editorial boards of The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (2004) and the Encyclopedia of Nineteenthcentury Photography (2007). She co‐edited Picturing Place: Photography and the Geographical Imagination (with James Ryan for I.B.Tauris, 2003) and Archives, Record, and Power, two double issues of Archival Science (with Terry Cook in 2002).

Her research focuses on photography in nineteenth-century visual culture and on the relationship of photography and archives to notions of place, identity, and memory. She has a particular interest in photographically illustrated books and the role of photography in nineteenth-century Canadian nation‐building. With the support of an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, she is engaged in a four-year project entitled, “Picturing ‘Canada’: Photographic Images and Geographical Imaginings in British North America, 1839-1889.” She is currently revising Life, Land, and Legacy, a major research monograph on nineteenth-century British Columbia photographer Frederick Dally. 

Recent Publications: 2019-2022

Photography: Science, Technology, and Practice (Guest editor), special issue, Scientia Canadensis 44, 1, 2022.

"Scottish Photography: The First Thirty Years and The Global Flows of Early Scottish Photography: Encounters in Scotland, Canada, and China," review essay, History of Photography, Vol.44, Issue 4, 2020: 309-313.

"Curator's Choice: Alexander Henderson, Ste Anne de Bellevue, near Montreal, c.1865," in Studies in Photography. Edinburgh: Scottish Society for the History of Photography, Fall 2021: 30-31.  

"Photographs in Place in Archives and the Writing of Photography's History," in Geraldine A. Johnson and Deborah Schultz, Photo Archives and the Place of Photography. London: Bloomsbury, 2022 (in press)

"Lost in translation: between access aims and descriptive affordances," in Costanza Caraffa (ed), On Alinari: Archive in Transition. Florence: a+mbookstore, 20201, pp.128-148.

All Shook Up: The Archival Legacy of Terry Cook (Co-editor with Thomas Nesmith and Greg Bak). Chicago and Ottawa: Society of American Archivists and Association of Canadian Archivists. 

"Photography, Travel, Archives," in Mona Domosh, Mike Heffernan, and Charles W.J. Withers (eds), The SAGE Handbook of Historical Geography. London: Sage 2020, pp.959-987.

"'Working Objects in their Own Time': Photographs in Archives," in Gil Pasternak (ed), The Handbook of Photography Studies. London: Bloomsbury, 2020, pp.513-529.

“'In the archives, a thousand photos that detail our questions': final reflections on photographs and archives," in Julia Bärnighausen, Costanza Caraffa, Stefanie Klamm, Franka Schneider, and Petra Wodtke (eds), Photo-Objects. On the Materiality of Photographs and Photo-Archives in the Humanities and Sciences. Berlin: EOA, 2019, pp.311-320.

Recent Publications: 2011-2017

“Marlene Creates, Visual Geographer,” in Susan Gibson-Garvey and Andrea Kunard, Marlene Creates: Places, Paths, and Pauses Fredericton: Beaverbrook Art Gallery, 2017 (forthcoming).

"William Notman and the Photographically Illustrated Book," in Hélène Samson (ed), Notman: Visionary Photographer. Montreal: McCord Museum, 2016.

“Photographic Archives and the Idea of Nation: Images, Imaginings, and Imagined Community,” in Costanza Caraffa and Tiziana Serena (eds), Photographic Archives and the Idea of Nation. Berlin-Munich-Boston: De Gruyter, 2015, pp. 17-40.

“Science and Sentiment: The Work of Photography in Nineteenth-Century North America,” in Craig E. Colten and Geoffrey L. Buckley (eds), North American Odyssey” Historical Geographies for the Twenty-First Century. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014, pp.227-249.

2014 “Photographic Records/Archives,” in Luciana Duranti and Pat Franks, eds, Encyclopedia of Archival Concepts, Principles, and Practices. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014: 270-274

“‘To speak again with a full distinct voice’: Diplomatics, Archives, and Photographs,” in Archivi fotografici: Spazi del sapere, luoghi della ricerca, a special issue of Ricerche di Storia dell'Arte (Italy) 106 (2012): 7‐24.

2011 “Agent of Change or Marketing Bait: The Photograph in 100 Photos That Changed Canada,” Journal of Canadian Studies, 45, 2, Spring 2011: 205-222.

Picturing Place: Photography and the Geographical Imagination book coverPicturing Place: Photography and the Geographical Imagination (co-edited with James R. Ryan), London: I.B. Tauris, 2003, with co-authored essay, “Introduction: Photography and the Geographical Imagination,” pp.1-18. (2nd printing 2006, 3rd printing 2009), 2009

"The Archival Garden: Photographic Plantings, Interpretive Choices, and Alternative Narratives," in Terry Cook( ed.);Controlling the Past: Documenting Society and Institutions: Essays in Honor of Helen Willa Samuels.  Society of American Archivists, 2011, pp.69-110.

"Felix Man's 'Canada': Imagined Geographies and Pre-Texts of Looking," in Carol Payne and Andrea Kunard (eds), The Cultural Work of Photography in Canada.  McGill-Queen's University Press, forthcoming 2011, pp.3-22.

"Complicating the Picture: Place and Memory between Representation and Reflection," in James Opp and John Walsh (eds), Placing Memory and Remembering Place in Canada. Van UBC Press, 2010, pp.292-312.

"Overlapping Ambiguities, Disciplinary Perspectives, and Metaphors of Looking: Reflections on a Landscape Photograph," in Stephen Daniels, Dydia DeLyser, J Nicholas Entrikin, and Douglas Richardson (eds), Envisioning Landscapes, Making Worlds Geography and the Humanities.;Routledge, 2011, pp.227-236.