All month long, we’ll be sharing Mystery items from our VITA members’ collections. A mystery item is any record tagged with a question – often a request to help organizations complete their metadata about a piece of local history.

Our count of mystery items in VITA collections right now is over 11,000. That’s a lot of unsolved mysteries!

Often we’re looking to identify people in photographs, or get a more accurate idea of when a picture was taken. Occasionally we want to know who made an object in our collections. Sometimes we need help figuring out what handwriting means, or knowing more about the long-term history of a business or group.

And sometimes we just want to know – What the heck is this thing?

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“Unnamed object circa 1900,” from the Huron Shores Museum collection.

If you’re a VITA member and you’d like us to feature some particularly pressing questions, get in touch. If you’re an Ontario history buff, or if you think you can date a photograph based on clothing, hairstyles, cars, buildings, machines, or signs, we want your help!

The best way to contribute your expertise is to comment directly on the item in question with some useful information, even if it’s just a guess or a lead.¬†Comments on VITA records get put into a moderation queue for individual heritage organizations to review. If your comment helps them label their materials more accurately, they will update the metadata and perhaps even send you a thank-you email! Comments require you to submit an email address, but this information will never be shared publicly, only with the VITA member receiving your message.

Join us on social media with the tag #MysteryMonth – and feel free to share any mysteries or questions of your own.