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.”

Kinesis is now available online!

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:58 am by esquin

Gender and social justice researchers worldwide –as well as the general public interested in the feminist movement in Canada– will be happy to know of this digital collection that is now freely available online: Kinesis: News about women that is not in the dailies, published by the Vancouver Status of Women (VSW) from 1974 to 2001.

kinesis_blogThis image (the paper’s cover from April 1980) is a good example of what visitors can find in the collection: photographs and articles on issues of particular interest to women and created by feminist voices working to combat all forms of marginalization. This particular issue includes an account of the celebration of that year’s International Women’s Day, interviews with five women on their professional development, and a feature article on the stigma of illegitimacy and the struggle of single mothers to care for their children by themselves.

This digital collection is a product of a collaborative initiative with the Vancouver Status of Women, the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, and Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC. Although Kinesis is no longer being published, it has a permanent home for browsing and critical analysis in the UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections division, and now in our digital collections.

No Comments

Emma Crosby Letters collection

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:51 am by esquin

Beyond our personal reservations regarding evangelism and the missionary enterprise, Emma Crosby Letters collection is exceptionally interesting because it lets us see two very different perspectives on how women lived in the 19th century and on their personal struggles. On one side, we can see how the gender limitations of the time made it impossible for well-to-do women in Canada to pursue a missionary career unless they married a missionary man, and on the other we get a glimpse of what the missionary teachings meant to the Aboriginal girls subjected to them.

The daughter of a Methodist minister in Ontario, Emma Crosby studied at Hamilton’s Wesleyan Female College and became a teacher. She was in her mid-twenties when she attended a lecture by Thomas Crosby on the importance of teaching the “savages” the Christian ways. He was then working as a missionary in British Columbia and needed a wife. As for Emma, she was looking for a missionary husband, so the deal was soon signed and started a strong marriage that ended with his death in 1914, after 23 years spent among the Tsimshian people. Thanks to Emma’s granddaughter and great-granddaughter’s donation to UBC’s Special Collections Division, we can now read the letters Emma exchanged with her mother and her husband from 1874 to 1892, as well as those sent between Thomas Crosby and the Port Simpson people.

One of the many letters Emma wrote to her mother, this one from 1879.

One of the many letters Emma wrote to her mother, this one from 1879.

Isolated in a small Tsimshian community on British Columbia’s northern coast, Emma Crosby both assisted her husband in all of his responsibilities as a missionary and replaced him in most mission activities when he was away in his ship, the Glad Tidings, reaching out to communities as far away as Alaska. Thomas, now considered by some as one of the most important Methodist missionaries in Canada, was fast to recognize that Emma was a big part of his missionary work in the far north. On top of helping her husband, Emma taught at the mission day school and originated a girls’ residential school in 1880, when this system was coming to existence across the country. In the meantime, she gave birth to eight children, only four of whom survived.

Many Aboriginal girls came into Emma’s care, mostly because they had no other choice, and while they helped Emma to maintain her home and take care of her children—allowing her to tackle her mission activities—they were evangelized and trained to maintain a “civilized”, Victorian home. The living arrangements of these girls and of many others changed in 1880, when the residential school was built. Although this ‘Home’ was supposed to be a safe place where the girls would be protected and taught the Christian faith, it soon became a place of confinement with harsh rules preparing the girls for submission to their future husbands.

This unprecedented collection of letters (transcribed for the reader’s benefit) will surely answer many questions, but will also give rise to many others. To answer those new ones you can turn to Good Intentions Gone Awry, by Jan Hare and Jean Barman (http://resolve.library.ubc.ca/cgi-bin/catsearch?bid=4191578), a volume you can find in the UBC Library or read online through the library’s portal.

No Comments

Art in Form and Function: Dorothy Burnett Bookbinding Tools

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:51 am by esquin

Dorothy Burnett was the first independent artisan bookbinder to set up shop in Vancouver. Her friendship with Anne Yandle, previously head of Special Collections at UBC, compelled Burnett to choose our library to house a rich collection of 224 of her most treasured artifacts used in her bookbinding career. As an example of the Dorothy Burnett Bookbinding Tools collection, here you can see a French iron press used to apply uniform pressure for bookbinding.


After graduating from the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts, and getting a teaching certificate in art education, Dorothy Burnett set out for the Ontario College of Art and later on for the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland in the 1930s. Back in Vancouver, she opened the Craft Center Studio at the corner of Dunsmuir and Granville. She was 32 years old at the time.

With no interest whatsoever in mass production, Dorothy Burnett created handcrafted bindings that are regarded today as some of the best examples of the art of her trade. The slogan of the Craft Center Studio accurately describes her life’s work and her approach not only to bookbinding, but to calligraphy as well: “Art in Form and Function”.

Complementing the collection is Norman Amor’s Dorothy Burnett: Bookbinder, published by the Alcuin Society in 2007, which can be found in UBC’s Rare Books & Special Collections division (http://webcat1.library.ubc.ca/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=3707625). After you take a look at Dorothy Burnett’s bookbinding tools, in Amor’s book you can find fascinating information on the bookbinder herself and on her work. This beautiful edition is stunningly illustrated with digitized covers and interior pages of the books bound by Burnett, for example of a 1935 edition of Barrie’s Peter Pan, a 1937 edition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese and an illustrated edition of Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

No Comments

Traveling in the BC Bibliography collection

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:33 am by esquin

As a co-op student working at UBC Library Digital Initiatives Unit I get to see incredibly interesting materials that I would never see otherwise. Have I ever thought, for example, of reading anything by Daniel M. Gordon? No, never, not before digitizing his book Mountain and Prairie, A Journey from Victoria to Winnipeg, Via Place River Pass (http://resolve.library.ubc.ca/cgi-bin/catsearch?bid=1586120).

If you enjoy travel books like I do, you will love this jewel from 1880 that will soon be available in digital form in the BC Bibliography collection.

Gordon’s book includes four outstanding maps and many beautiful illustrations. I want to share my favorite with you. Nowadays it is not that difficult to find a gorgeous, untouched spot like this one near Vancouver, is it?


No Comments

Greater Vancouver Regional District – Planning Department Land Use Maps

Posted on January 10, 2018 @12:04 pm by Rob

1983 planning map for the False Creek area of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

1983 planning map for the False Creek area of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Metro Vancouver (previously the Great Vancouver Regional District), the regional political and corporate body representing 24 Lower Mainland authorities, has granted permission to the UBC Library to digitized a series of planing department land use maps. There are four series: 1965, 1971, 1980 covering the Lower Mainland and 1983 for the City of Vancouver only. These maps, as shown in the example above, are highly detailed representations of the various uses of land at the aforementioned time points. They are still heavily used by planners, historians, genealogists, attorneys and many others. The maps are being scanned at 600 pixels per inch using a Contex HD5450 wide-format scanner. They will then be edited, metadata created and uploaded in to our digital content management system. The maps are expected to be made available to the public in the first quarter of 2014.

No Comments

Fisherman Publishing Society Collection

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:54 am by Rob

The UBC Library Rare Books & Special Collections division has as one of its many unique and fascinating collections the photographic material of the Fisherman Publishing Society. The Society published the bi-weekly newspaper The Fisherman for two important fishing unions: the Salmon Purse Seiners Union and the Pacific Coast Fishermen’s Union. As you can see from this photograph the unions were very active in political issues of the day. In fact they involved themselves not only in fishing issues but many others such as labour rights and nuclear energy. The collection is currently having its photographs updated to the current standard for our digital collections which will provide users with enhanced resolution images. Visit the collection here.

No Comments

What do hedgehogs and cats have in common?

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

They both play croquet, apparently!

Digital Initiatives is currently digitizing selected images from the Arkley Croquet Collection, which is housed in UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections.

The Arkley Croquet Collection contains more than 2,000 images taken from a variety of media and dates from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century. As you can see from the images below, it contains some fantastic scenes.

We’re expecting to have the collection up after this year’s croquet season, so check back soon for all the croquet-related images you can imagine.

Cats playing croquet

Cats playing croquet

Hedgehogs playing croquet

Hedgehogs playing croquet

No Comments

The Okanagan Historical Society Reports

Posted on January 10, 2018 @12:03 pm by pughchr

The annual reports of the Okanagan Historical Society are now available as a digital collection.  There are 69 issues in the collection, dating back to 1926 and continuing until 2007.  The issues are fully searchable online and available for download as PDF documents.

The Okanagan Historical Society has always been active in promoting the history of the Okanagan Valley and each year has published an annual report.  These reports form a well-researched, illustrated annual volume containing stories and pictures of families, individuals, businesses, events, tributes, obituaries and memories which define life in the Okanagan Valley.  Articles and stories are contributed by members and non-members and are an integral resource for researchers and pleasure readers all over the world.

The collection will be updated with a new issue annually, five years behind the publication of new issues.  For more information about the Okanagan Historical Society, or to order the more recent issues, please visit www.okanaganhistoricalsociety.org.

ohs-2006-001_Cover ohs-1975-001_Cover ohs-1953-091_Page87


No Comments

Update of Bullock Webster Collection

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:44 am by pughchr

The Bullock Webster collection has been updated with new high-quality images.

The original material, an album filled with watercolour and ink sketches, is very delicate. As such, the digital collection up until now was composed of scans we made of the old access photographs. Although we tried to make these scans represent the original sketches as accurately as possible, there were limits to how accurate they could be.

However, we recently re-photographed the original sketches, and the collection is now composed of these new high-quality digital photographs. As you can see from the images below, the new images represent the original sketches much more accurately.

The is an example of the quality we were able to achieve by scanning the old access copies of the Bullock Webster sketches.

Scan of old access photo.







This is an example of the quality we were able to achieve by re-photographing the original Bullock Webster sketches.

High-quality digital photo.







A page-by-page digital copy of the original album can be found here. The individual images may be reached through links on the appropriate pages of the album. To access the links, scroll down to the field marked “Individual Images”. (Note: no links appear under the front and back covers of the album.) The individual images can also be found by browsing the collection.


1 Comment

The Delgamuukw Trial Transcripts

Posted on January 27, 2014 @1:30 pm by pughchr

For Aboriginal (Un)History Month, we are featuring our digital collection of the Delgamuukw trial transcripts, which document a landmark case in British Columbian and Canadian history. Click the link above to learn more.

No Comments

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

UBC Library



Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC  | © Copyright The University of British Columbia