Here at the Digitization Centre we are fascinated and excited by the vast amount of primary-source material that our digitization work exposes us to.  Whether a document of historic significance, a beautiful illustration, or even a particularly fine typeface, we are frequently amazed by the materials we’re working to share with the world.  So much so, that not only will we crowd around to ogle a particularly interesting specimen, but we’ve started decorating our workplace with copies of some of our favorites.  But why stop there?  Surely, we can’t be the only ones geeky enough to appreciate such “gems” in our collections, and so we’ve decided to share them here with you.  Below you will find some of our favorites, hand-picked by staff from both existing and upcoming collections.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!   TIP: To view full resolution versions of the images on any size screen, click to enlarge and then right-click and select “open image in new tab.”

Slice of Life: Menus from the Chung Collection

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:47 am by liz otero

The Chung Collection within Open Collections is known for its variety of photos and subjects. Recently, we took a journey through the menus within the collection- here are a few for your enjoyment:



Does anyone know what the first a la carte menu item- “Chow Chow- 15” is? I’d be willing to try it for fifteen cents.


The “Degree of Sweetness” for the wines in this roomservice menu raise more questions than they answer–why only sweetness? Why is the scale 0-3?


This type-written menu went to press a bit too early, and Chocolate Jelly had to be removed. (I would have rather had the Cheese Cakes, myself)


The steamship service menu in 1930 seems amazing! Not to besmirch the White Spot restaurants on the BC Ferries, but….


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Exploring the Collections: Japanese Internment

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:57 am by liz otero

Japanese Canadian Internment began after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 until 1949. Following the declaration of war on Japan, Japanese nationals and Canadian citizens of Japanese descent were forcibly removed from what was considered to be strategic, restricted coastal areas of British Columbia in 1942. Evacuees were first dispatched to temporary facilities at Vancouver’s Hastings Park and then from there relocated to areas in the B.C. interior and beyond. Families were often separated with many men being sent to road camps. Numerous road camps were constructed to support three principle road construction projects including the Yellowhead-Blue River Highway, Hope-Princeton Highway and Revelstoke-Sicamous Highway. Women, children and the elderly were generally dispatched to internment camps in purpose-built or revived towns in the B.C. interior. Major camps included, Tashme, Lemon Creek, Greenwood, Sandon, New Denver, Slocan, Roseberry, Kaslo, and Bay Farm.

Photos from the Japanese Canadian Research Collection highlight some aspects of life in the camps: the remote placement of community away from the coast, community involvement, some of the physical realities of being interred with insufficient resources. A selection is below, and we hope you’ll explore the collection as a whole.








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Costumes in the Collections

Posted on January 12, 2018 @3:48 pm by liz otero

It’s decidedly autumn here on the Vancouver campus of UBC. Chilly walks, a desire for soups, and some costume scheming are in the ether. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are a few from Open Collections.


(Pop)Culturally Appropriate, a clown from the Ubyssey:

Ubyssey cover October 31, 2003 featuring a close up picture of a clown


This photo from 1919 is a little far away, but there are some great hats throughout. Perhaps something Newsies-related would capture the time:

Group photograph of the 1919 "High Jinks" costume party

Group photograph of the 1919 “High Jinks” costume party

In1984, George Pedersen wore a Superman Costume. Bonus points for anyone who can pinpoint where on campus this photo was taken:

George Pedersen in Superman costume

George Pedersen in Superman costume

Of course, the theatre department has no shortage of costumes. Here, Joy Coghill for a performance of The Visit:

Joy Coghill in costume from production of "The Visit" 1964

Joy Coghill in costume from production of “The Visit” 1964


Regardless of costume, you can donate food at UBC Library for a reduction of fines:

Lica Chui, Charles Slonecker and Carole Forsythe with food collected by U.B.C. students

Lica Chui, Charles Slonecker and Carole Forsythe with food collected by U.B.C. students


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Digital Humanities Summer Institute

Posted on October 26, 2017 @9:52 am by liz otero

DHSI – the Digital Humanities Summer Institute – is a humanities training program held every summer at the University of Victoria. Delivered over a week, each course is an intensive series of classes interspersed with colloquiums, unconferences, and other community-based events, and provides an ideal environment for influencing teaching, research, dissemination, creation, and preservation in different disciplines. Course offerings have historically included such topics as text analysis, data visualization, digital pedagogy, programming, topic modelling, and more.
UBC Library is continuing as a sponsoring partner of DHSI thanks to the support of University Librarian Susan Parker. As part of this sponsorship, the Library provides free registration – normally $900 with the early bird rate, or $1,250 at full cost – for five UBC library employees to attend a course at DSHI 2018, June 4-8 or 11-15.
If you would like to be considered for one of these sponsored spots, please submit the following to digital.initiatives@ubc.ca by Monday, October 23rd
·         A short statement of interest (300 words max)
·         Your preferred course(s)
·         Source(s) of funding you would use to cover the other costs of attending DHSI (travel, accommodation, incidentals)
·         If you have attended DHSI in the past on a UBC Library-sponsored spot, the years you attended and the courses you took
Any UBC Library staff member with an interest in Digital Humanities is invited to apply. Submissions will be reviewed by members of the Library’s Digital Humanities Working Group and we hope to notify successful applicants by October 27th
Note: Registration for 2018 is now open, and some high-demand courses fill up fast. Any participants from sponsoring institutions can also attend DHSI at a reduced rate of $650, using a discount code. If you are planning to attend DHSI in 2018 and are interested in registering with this discounted rate, please contact Larissa Ringham (larissa.ringham@ubc.ca) for the code *before you register*, as the discount cannot be applied retroactively.
Please feel free to contact Larissa for more information, or if you have any questions.


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted on January 10, 2018 @4:41 pm by liz otero

We hope you enjoy the long weekend, good food, and this tour through parties and Thanksgivings past in our collections:

in 1888, the Regina Lodge in Vancouver was charging $4 to attend a Social Ball and Supper:

Turkey was the thing by 1913, as Women’s Words of Western Canada encourages a poultry raising cottage industry:


Enthusiastic conversation at an unidentified dinner party in the 1940’s:

Excellent fashions at a similar party:


A visually impressive Masonic Dinner:

And those who make it all happen, the cooks (from a 1959 Faculty Club dinner):


Will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year? What are your favourite traditions?

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In Memoriam

Posted on January 10, 2018 @3:56 pm by liz otero

The documents in our collections contain concerns ranging from global to individual. While exploring the collections this week, I was struck by the obituaries, remembrances, and memorials here is a selection.

This Obituary from The Prospector (1896) is front page news, and followed by reports of gold fields in the Kootenays.

Mrs. Ellison was remembered in the eighteenth report of the Okanagan Historical Society.

And we know nothing about Paddy Cameron’s passing, other than his friends were generous to the tune of $75 in 1985.

On the opposite end of the scale, Mrs. Jacques was remembered in verbose style by Mabel Johnson in 1955.


I love these glimpses into the lives of every day people; may we all be remembered so kindly, and found in collections for generations to come.

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Welcome Back!

Posted on January 12, 2018 @3:49 pm by liz otero

Welcome back to campus, UBC!

Don’t get stressed about moving into your dorm:

Moving into the new Women’s Residence, 1956


Remember that there is always a way to solve an interpersonal problem:

Photo of unidentified students, 1922

Be grateful that freshman no longer wear these:

Freshmen wear dunce caps, 1938

While in lecture, take power from all of those that have come before you. These students are at the first lecture in HEBB:

First day of lectures in the Hebb Theatre 1963

Make time to read all of those books on the syllabus.:

Bookplate from 1912

Experiment and learn new skills:

Spinning at the Rural Leadership School, UBC, 1940

First Aid at the Rural Leadership School, UBC, 1940

Before you know it, you’ll be here:

Members of the Nursing class 1923

We’re proud of you. Have the best term, and visit the Library!

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Gems in Special Projects

Posted on January 10, 2018 @12:07 pm by liz otero

The Digitization Centre’s work is housed online in Open Collections, with projects organized into collections. Occasionally, objects are digitized alone or in a small group, and these are placed in Special Projects—our own home for wayward items. Being a bit of a grab-bag, it is one of our favourite places to explore and gain insight on the breadth of the UBC collection.

This Debussy piano score has some great marginalia, including a date of 1913 on the front and many playing notes throughout- including some comments about a co-performer.

The digital copy of the Tu Fu poem “Gazing at Taishan” has only been seen 45 times in Open Collections- a truly beautiful work.

This map, with the verbose name of “Fraser River and Burrard Inlet surveyed by Captn. G.H. Richards, assisted by Lieutt. R.C. Mayne … [et al.], H.M.S. Plumper 1859-60 ; Burrard Inlet by Mr. W.J. Stewart by order of the Government of the Dominion of Canada, 1891 ; engraved by J. & C. Walker” has a most enjoyable fold-up bit in the corner.

This 1890 map of Vancouver goes both local and global: many façades of buildings found downtown, but also a world map so you know where Vancouver is in relation to everywhere else, I guess?

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What’s Old is New Again

Posted on January 10, 2018 @4:42 pm by liz otero

The objects within Open Collections are beautiful, often rare, and allow connection with history as only primary sources can. As your humble blog correspondent, I am consistently struck with how different things were, yet what we are interested in, our concerns, and struggles are the same. This week, let’s see what the past has to tell us about how to live our lives.

Facts and figures relating to Vancouver Island and British Columbia showing what to expect and how to get there by Joseph Despard Pemberton. I moved to Vancouver about a year ago, and am always interested in different historical perspectives on this place.

This section of a book containing Chinese medicine formulas could be exactly what you need! It may have been brought by or for the Freemasons.

The Traité Général des Pesches, et histoire des Poissons qu’elles fournissent, tant pour la subsistance des hommes, que pour plusieurs autres usages qui ont rapport aux arts et au commerce contains everything one needs to know about fish, fisheries, and everything connected. I’ve never gone further than a hook and line, maybe this is the time to obtain to a fishing boat?

This set of correspondence regarding a herring shipment from the Chung Collection proves that sometimes, life is just paperwork.

This letter from the History of Nursing in Pacific Canada reminds me that it’s always the right time to write a letter to someone I care about.

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Searching Open Collections part 2: Subject keywords

Posted on October 5, 2017 @3:11 pm by liz otero

When we last met, we had found a photo of an old growth forest:


Scrolling down on this screen reveals the metadata* attached to the item:

I want to continue my search, and so I’m going to look at the area called “Subject”, here listed as Forestry; Logs; Cedar trees. To start out, I’ll use “Cedar trees”, since we’re looking for photos of the forest, not specifically logging.

For the search, I’ll go back to the home of open collections: open.library.ubc.ca (Starting at the “home screen” will ensure that my search will be a clean slate.)

See how I’ve put the subject that I’m looking for in quotation marks (“”)? This ensures that I’ll get things with the entire phrase, not just cedar or trees.

With this subject, I’ve got 546 results, that I can peruse at my leisure.

Let’s try a different strategy: our own search terms! Generally this is the first option that people use, which is why our tutorial started in other places.

The original question was for old growth forests, so I’m going to use these direct words. To formulate my query, I will try to get as narrow of a result as possible at first, just to see what’s out there.

For a specific query, I will use

forests AND “old growth”

I don’t need all of these words to be in the same place, or a specific order, in my search results, so they are separated. However, I do want *all* of these words, so I’m using an AND within my query.

After searching, I find that there are 1711 objects, many of which are texts:

As I scroll through, I’m finding mostly objects from BC Sessional Papers, which are interesting and may help expand my knowledge for future searches, but are not what I’m looking for now. Let’s see what a search for just forest turns up:

I’ve filtered to look only at still images, and we have 489 photos. If this were my search, I’d scroll through, and then look at the subjects of another photo that fit what I was looking for. Because “forest” is a broader term than “Cedar trees” that we used above, these photos aren’t as close of a fit as we would like- it’s worth the time to find the words that work for the system you’re using.


Thank you all, and happy searching!


*metadata: a set of information about the object, used in this instance for access to the object


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