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.”

Digital Initiatives on Flickr!

Posted on January 10, 2018 @12:29 pm by Matthew Murray

You may not know it, but a few months ago we set up a Flickr account! We’ve chosen several collections that we feel have really great images and have started to upload them so that more people can see the work that we’re doing. If you see any images you like, we’d love for you to share them with your friends! Properly crediting us of course : )

So far we have photos from nine different collections on Flickr, and we’re uploading about a dozen new photos to a different collection every weekday. Once we finish uploading all the photos from a specific collection we’ll start adding a new one! If you have any suggestions for which collections you’d like to see on our Flickr page let us know in the comments. Follow us on Twitter to get updates about what collections have been updated, and for links to photos we think are especially awesome.

The collections on Flickr (so far) are:

 Andrew McCormick Maps and Prints

A diverse collection of historical maps and illustrations, dating from 1503 to 1910, that pertain to the exploration and mapping of the world, the evolution of cartography, and the explorarion and settlement of North America.

Capilano Timber Company fonds

The images are originally from a single photograph album, and depict the operations of the Capilano Timber Company, including loggers, logging camps, and views of the Capilano Valley and the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver.

Chung Collection

The Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection is an outstanding collection of archival documents, photographs, books and artifacts related to three broad themes: British Columbia History, Immigration and Settlement and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.

H. Bullock-Webster fonds

As a young man H. Bullock Webster (1855-1942) came to Canada from England and began working as an apprentice clerk for the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1874. While in the service of the company Webster travelled extensively to HBC posts throughout the Canadian west and in particular northern Alberta and British Columbia. By 1878 he was in charge of the trading post at Fort Connelly on Bear Lake in northern British Columbia.

Although never formally trained in art, Webster sketched throughout his life. While in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company he compiled an album of some ninety three colour sketches depicting social life, activities, customs and dress in and around Hudson’s Bay Company posts mainly around Stuart Lake and Fort McLeod during the period 1874 to 1880. Many of the sketches included First Nations as well as Metis people whose participation was critical to the Canadian fur trade.

Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era

UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections holds one of the world’s largest collections of maps and guidebooks of the Japanese Tokugawa period, ca. 1600-1867. The collection varies in both format and size: items range from small single-sheet maps to more than thirty square feet, and also include a ceramic plate, a woodblock, and 15 maps in scroll format. Most of the items in the collection are rare, and some are unique.

Peter Anderson fonds

Born in Sweden, Peter Anderson emigrated to the United States in 1885, worked as a logger in Wisconsin, and later owned a sawmill in Washington. He later moved to British Columbia and started a new logging company at Knox Bay. The photographs document early logging operations in British Columbia as well as Anderson’s experiences in the forest industry.

R. Mathison Printing Collection

The R. Mathison Printing Collection contains materials, printed between 1886-1890, for businesses in Vancouver by R. Mathison Jr., The Job Printer. The style is visual; often with mixed fonts and fancy script.

UBC Library Framed Works

This collection includes prints, photographs, charters, and documentary artworks, all originating from diverse sources. Some of works form part of a larger collection or fonds held by the Archives or Rare Books and Special Collections. Some items are interesting examples of a particular artistic medium or technique; others provide valuable visual documentation of scenes from British Columbia’s history.

As a number of these works have little or no identification, we would welcome receiving corrections or additional information. Please contact us at spcoll@interchange.ubc.ca.

WWI Posters
(Eventually this will have posters from WWII as well!)

Posters, broadsides, and ephemera from World War I, published in Canada, Belgium, England, France, Germany, and the United States. The posters cover a variety of subjects including recruitment and enlisting, savings stamps, savings and victory bonds, women, agriculture, and munitions.

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World War I British Press Photograph Collection

Posted on January 10, 2018 @12:27 pm by Matthew Murray

We’ve recently began to digitize material in the World War I British press photograph collection held at Rare Books and Special Collections. The photos were intended for publication, and most feature a caption on the reverse. The photos are divided into folders based around certain places and topics such as “Mesopotamia” and “Battle of the Ridges”.

While we digitized 1000 of these images a few years ago (you can see those photos here) there are still 5000 more photographs that we hadn’t scanned. However, we’ve now started work on this project in earnest and hope that in the near future the entire collection will be digitized and available online! Here’s a selection from just the first box of photos (there are six more boxes!).


Official photograph taken on the British Western Front: Interior of the Arras Cathedral


Official Photographs taken on the Front in France: A car in trouble after the thaw


Women’s Work: British women aeroplane workers near Birmingham welding frame tugs for planes


Great Britain Advance in Palestine: Imperial Camel Corps just outside Beersheba (1917)


Official photograph taken on the British Western Front: Cycle orderlies under fire

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Posted on January 10, 2018 @3:50 pm by pughchr

A frequent challenge when making digital collections is determining how best to represent a digital object, so that it is true to the original object but still functions properly in its digital form.

For example, in the case of newspapers, it can be a challenge to determining how best to represent the two page spread. In its analog form, a newspaper is generally viewed two pages at a time. This is not a problem, because users are easily able to focus on one part of the two page spread at a time. However, when digitized, newspapers are usually presented one page at a time, so as not to overwhelm the user. There is so much content on a single newspaper page, that it can be overwhelming to present two newspaper pages on a single screen.

There are also technical problems to consider. A two page spread is twice as taxing on a computer as a single newspaper page.

The problem, however, is that sometimes content is spread across two newspaper pages. For example, take the following two newspaper:

Page 12 shown individually

Page 12 shown individually


Page 13 shown individually

Page 13 shown individually

The word “globally” is spread across two pages. Since “glob” and “ally” are both words independently, this could be confusing to the user. In this case, it is important to show both pages at the same time. Like this:

Pages 12 and 13 shown together

Pages 12 and 13 shown together

However, in most cases we still show one page at a time, to keep the display simple and to reduce the strain on our users’ computers.

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BC Sessional Papers available online

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:39 am by mmlam

Digital Initiatives in partnership with Humanities and Social Sciences and the Legislative Library of British Columbia has completed digitization of the first 10 years (1876-1886) of the British Columbia Sessional Papers.  The Sessional Papers are important provincial legislative documents that capture the economical, historical, political and cultural atmosphere of British Columbia history. The collection includes official committee reports, orders of the day, petitions and papers presented records of land sales, correspondence, budgetary estimates, proclamations, maps, voters’ lists by district, and departmental annual reports.

The digitization of the BC Sessional Papers is part of a larger project already being undertaken by the BC Government Publications Digitization Group to digitize important historical BC government documents. Members include University of Victoria, University of Northern British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Legislative Library of British Columbia and University of British Columbia.

Visit the collection here: http://digitalcollections.library.ubc.ca/cdm/landingpage/collection/bcsessional

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The Arkley Croquet Collection has gone digital

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:24 am by mmlam

A former player on the U.S. National Croquet Team, Tremaine Arkley started collecting illustrations, engravings, photographs, cartoons, paintings and other materials around the game of croquet with the sole idea of “saving the history of the game through art”, as he said in a interview with Croquet World Online (http://www.croquetworld.com/people/collecting.asp).

Now that a large selection of the Arkley Croquet Collection has been digitized and made available worldwide, we thought it was the perfect time to showcase one of its many astounding images, this one by no other than the French painter Édouard Manet.


The Croquet Party, by Édouard Manet

In The Croquet Party (Partie de Croquet à Boulogne-sur-Mer), created in the 1870’s, we can see a group of upper class people enjoying a relaxed game of croquet by the sea. Like many of Manet’s paintings, this one is a window into a private moment, and such a great one that we can almost feel the breeze that’s about to blow away that woman in black’s hat.

The Arkley Croquet Collection will be fascinating for croquet aficionados, of course, but also for scholars and the general public interested in subject matters like art, advertisement and gender roles from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century.

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Holiday Images in UBC Library’s Digital Collections

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:27 am by mikec

‘Tis the season to unearth a few Christmas themed gems from our digital collections. Happy Holidays from the digitization team!

From the BC Historical Newspapers Collection, The December 25th 1909 issue of the Fernie District Ledger.

From the Arkley Croquet Collection, “The holiday letter from school” depicts a boy daydreaming in anticipation of the the Christmas holiday. The image is originally from The Graphic Christmas Number, 1889. Note the strange gnomish creature riding a croquet mallet.

From the Chung Collection “Christmas bake: 97lbs. weight” ca. 1927. . The description reads “Baker with a cake in honour of Christmas.”


From the H. Bullock-Webster fonds, “Buying provisions for Xmas” depicts Christmas in British Columbia in 1874. The accompanying text tells an anecdote about “Making the pudding” with the available ingredients including flour, moose suet and dried berries.


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Creston Review: New in BC Historical Newspapers

Posted on January 10, 2018 @3:51 pm by mikec


Creston Review


In partnership with Creston & District Musuem & Archives we have added issues of the Creston Review from 1909 to 1935 to the BC Historical Newspapers.

The Creston Review was established in 1908 by J. J. Atherton, and was the first newspaper serving the Creston Valley. For many years, the Review was Creston’s only local paper, and was usually a weekly paper though there were a few brief periods when it was published semi-weekly. It changed hands a number of times until taken over by long-time publisher Herb Legg in 1938, but retained its name and its unashamedly “local” focus throughout its life. The Review published its last issue in 1983.



On the Crest of the Wave

Posted on January 10, 2018 @12:22 pm by esquin

The Digital Initiatives Unit has digitized thousands of rare books and images, and still, in the midst of all these fantastic items, many images stand out and never cease to amaze us. We had not thought of this series of 12 photographs of Igor Stravinsky in a while, and when it was mentioned during a staff meeting a couple of weeks ago, we figured we just had to post it in our blog. There are many photographs of Stravinsky out there, but nothing compares to these ones, where we can see him right in the middle of a rehearsal and we get a glimpse of this astonishing composer in the process of conducting one of his own works.

RBSC_Frmd_Port_008Here he is 80 years old in 1962, nine years before his death. He’s rehearsing the Firebird Suite with the New York Philharmonic at Lewisohn Stadium in New York City. The images were captured by Fred Fehl, a photographer specializing in performance photography and who brought us outstanding images of many other artists as well, like Martha Graham, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Joan Sutherland.

When these photographs were taken, long gone were the times when Stravinsky was booed in a public performance: that was back in 1913 and the Parisian theatre had been packed and filled with expectation. Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring had barely begun when the hostile crowds started laughing (the cue for Stravinsky to leave the auditorium and get to the stage wings, from where he watched the rest of the performance). The laughter developed into a full-on attack between factions in the audience and later on towards the orchestra members and the dancers. After the police expelled some of the worst offenders, the performance continued in relative peace. I guess that in this particular performance the Rite of Spring’s “Sacrificial Dance” came earlier, and we all know whom the sacrificed victim was.

These photographs show a Stravinsky riding the crest of the wave with one of the best orchestras in the world, and although no one ever forgot what happened during that fateful premiere almost fifty years before, everybody ultimately took the negative reaction as a sign of a true genius who not everyone could understand, one who was so ahead of his time that he aroused rage before stirring gasps of utter astonishment.

The series is part of UBC Library Framed Works Collection, which includes exceptional photographs, prints, and documentary artworks, all originating from diverse sources.


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Upcoming Project: Asian Rare Books

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:31 am by Rob

A page from 熊廷弼、楊漣書札 [Xiong Tingbi & Yang Lian shu zha] showing 龐鏡塘藏 [Pang Jingtang's] seal (circled)

A page from 熊廷弼、楊漣書札 [Xiong Tingbi & Yang Lian shu zha] showing 龐鏡塘藏 [Pang Jingtang’s] seal (circled)

In January 2014 the UBC Library Digitization Centre will start a project to digitize titles from its Asian Library rare book collection. The project is a collaboration between the UBC Library and the Sun Yat-sen Library of Guangdong province in China. There are many rare and unique titles in the collection which makes is of particular interest to scholars in China and around the world. There is currently a pilot collection and titles will be added as materials are digitized and metadata is created. The image above is from the title 熊廷弼、楊漣書札 [Xiong Tingbi & Yang Lian shu zha], a work on the history of the Ming dynasty, and shows a page with various seals including that of 龐鏡塘藏 [Pang Jingtang] (circled in red) for whom one part of the collection is named. Pang Jingtang owned a variety of important works on history, literature and military matters.

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So Old, and Yet So New

Posted on January 10, 2018 @12:26 pm by esquin

The Spanish Chant Manuscript is one of our oldest digitized books, dating from sometime between 1575 and 1625. Chant manuscripts from Renaissance Spain can be richly illuminated, like this particular one, which features gold leaf and a very ornamented design. At the time, most antiphonaries (or choral books) used a four-line staff for the notation of plainchant, whereas the Spanish Chant Manuscript uses the five-line staff that would become the norm in the 17th Century. This is the first digitized copy of this superb volume of Gregorian chants, written in ecclesiastical Latin and compiled by the Catholic Church in Logroño, Spain.

Spanish-ChantIn page 8 of the volume, displayed here, we can see the stylistic elements of its illuminations and an elegant handwritten script characteristic of this kind of liturgical work. The manuscript can be found in UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections (M2149.L32 S6 1575).

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