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.”

Indulging Our Sweet Tooth

Posted on January 12, 2018 @4:04 pm by kristina mcguirk

Perhaps you’re the type to want a sugary afternoon pick-me-up. Maybe you look forward to a sweet end after a long, tiring day. Perchance the ides of winter has you craving comfort foods. Or, you just might subscribe to the let-them-eat-cake lifestyle.

Whatever the case, it’s not quite the end of January, and if you’re one of the 65% of Canadians looking to use the new year as a fresh start to a healthier lifestyle, you probably aren’t ready to give in to your sweet tooth. We’re with you—which is how we found ourselves trolling the digital collections for cookies one afternoon (a virtual cheat day). There is a lot to take in, but with the benefit of avoiding both cavities and broken resolutions.

UBC Publications and UBC Archives Photograph Collection desserts are feats of science and architecture!

We didn’t believe it, either, but this photo is definitely about pie: the caption draws your attention to a lemon meringue at the bottom left corner.


We know a few folks might find this cake pretty RAD (sorry for the pun, archives grads). This library cake was centre stage at the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies 25th anniversary party.


The Chung Collection lets your tastes travel the world while offering some light reading while on the culinary trek.

Canadian Pacific travelers to Chateau Frontenac were offered a stellar array of desserts, from pudding, pie, cake and ice cream to fruits, nuts, and cheeses.


A cautionary tale about having dogs or hurrying… we’re not sure which. But definitely not a cautionary tale about pies!


UBC Archives Photograph Collection also plays host to some fine forms for confectionary treats.

Do you want to build a snow man? Always, but especially if it’s a sugar-cookie base.


There’s a certain allure to this birthday cake, and we’re guessing Joe was all about that bass. (OK, seriously, puns are done.)


Finally, incase we’ve enticed you into baking, the BC Historical Newspapers are a gold mine for recipes and sweet treats.

A “cheap and good” cookie recipe and cinnamon cake? Excellent. But you better be comfortable with guessing cooking times, Millicent, because Cynthia isn’t going to do it all for you.


Cottage Pie, Stuffed Dates, and Raisin Pie: If you love these vintage dishes, you can check later issues of the Cumberland Islander to see if the sought-after steam fig pudding, salmon salad, oatmeal cookies, or sour milk doughnut recipes make it to print.




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Happy Birthday, A.A. Milne!

Posted on January 12, 2018 @4:05 pm by kristina mcguirk

English author A.A. Milne was born this week (January 18th) in 1882. Beloved for his creation of Hundred Acre Wood, the home of Winnie-The-Pooh, Milne’s work captured the imaginations of children and adults alike, and our collections include many shoutouts to the author and his famous fictional friends. From inspiring a faculty party in 1942 to maintaining top-villain status in 2014, Milne has a place in UBC history, too.


The Arts-Aggie Ball in 1942 featured a Pooh theme. Notice the stuffed animals in the top right photo!


Professor Sheila Egoff, of UBC’s then-titled School of Librarianship, cites Milne’s works among the best of children’s literature in this edition of UBC Reports published by Information Services.


A musical group featured in Discarder in 1993 pays homage to an often-remembered Pooh storyline.


In 1996, UBC summer theatre included a popular reading of Bears, a new musical with lyrics by Milne.



In the March 30, 2014 issue of The Ubyssey a UBC Thunderbird team captain gives a nod to Millne’s scary Heffalumps and Woozles.


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Cats in Stacks

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:26 am by kristina mcguirk

A recent article from the American Library Association reported on the decline of library cats. A documentary 20 years ago cited 201 cats living the dream in American libraries, including such famous felines as Dewey and Browser. However, a recount in 2016 found only 39 library cats.

While the Digitization Centre certainly can’t have a pet on the premises (that hair would do no good for all our photography and scanning!), we do have a number in our digital collections. There’s even record of a couple cool cats with library ties: UBC librarian and artist Evelyn Roth—a cool cat in her own right—was known for her two pets and their many kittens.

“Biblos” the UBC Library newsletter features librarian Evelyn Roth


Croquet kitties from the Tremaine Arkley Croquet Collection


Fireside companion from the Thomas Murray bookplate collection


Mrs. Bryan’s tree-climbing cat in the Chung Collection


This little black cat is one of many in the Uno Langmann family photos


The WWI British Press photograph collection documents a few feline sailors






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Happy Holidays!

Posted on February 14, 2017 @9:29 am by Alyssa Hamer

Other than the colder weather, the long, dark days of December, and an exponential increase in the consumption of peppermint mochas, a sure sign of the impending Christmas holidays are the end of exams. With the stress of studying and final papers now passed, we thought it would be a great time to dig in to Open Collections to highlight some of our favorite festive images.

Enjoy our selection of historical photos and artworks celebrating the Christmas season, and from all of us at the Digitization Centre, have a safe and happy holiday!


“Bright and happy be your Christmas” holiday greeting card, 1899


“With many merry Christmas greetings” holiday greeting card, 1899


“The holiday letter from school – A Boy’s dream of the coming Christmas”, 1899


“Coming in for Christmas” painting by H. Bullock-Webster


Soldiers celebrating Christmas in France, between 1914 and 1918


Christmas party decorations on the first C.P. R.M.S. Empress of Australia, ca. 1929


Historical photograph of UBC’s Main Library in the snow, 1960’s


Sequoia tree with Christmas lights in front of UBC Library, 1990

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International Tea Day

Posted on March 2, 2017 @12:37 pm by Alyssa Hamer

Tea is a universally beloved beverage, uniting us all across language, age and even social barriers. Whether you’re inclined to enjoy a strong cup of earl grey, or are more partial to a delicate green, tea binds our human experience. International Tea Day is celebrated annually on December 15.

The history of tea reaches back to ancient China, with the Tang dynasty popularizing tea as the national beverage between the 7th and 10th centuries. Tea soon began to take hold in Japan, as a result of its introduction by Buddhist monks who had travelled to China to study, and out of this grew the ritual of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Eventually, Dutch merchants from Europe established a trading route shipping tea from China to Holland in the 17th century, although for some time tea remained a drink almost exclusively for the wealthy.


Tea Plantation in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), ca. 1929


Tea house in Shanghai, China, 1930’s


Photograph of women drinking tea, 1909


Ritsumeikan exchange students perform Japanese tea ceremony, 1997


Tea Ceremony at the Asian Centre, 1987

Today tea is one of the most popular beverages on earth, with most of the leaves produced in countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, China, Kenya, Uganda and India. Now a multibillion dollar industry, tea production supports the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world. Because of this, International Tea Day acts as an important time to recognize those workers who grow and harvest the tea products we have come to love. Challenges for these workers can include low-wages, long hours and poor living conditions. Advocates for tea workers continue to call for greater price supports and fair trade standards.


Child labourers on tea plantation in India, ca. 1937

So, as you enjoy your “cuppa” on this day, take some time to appreciate not only the history of the beverage, but also those people working today to ensure your cupboard is always stocked with your favorite brew.



UK Tea & Infusions Association. “Tea – A Brief History of the Nation’s Favorite Beverage” https://www.tea.co.uk/tea-a- brief-history

Fairtrade Canada. “Tea” http://www.fairtrade.ca/en-ca/farmers- and-workers/tea

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Explore Open Collections – Traité général des pesches

Posted on January 10, 2018 @12:18 pm by Alyssa Hamer

The General Treaty of Fish, known in French as Traité général des pesches, was written by Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau and Jean-Louis De La Marre between 1769 and 1782. It focuses largely on the boats, equipment and techniques of fishermen in France during the era, including fine details about various species of fish. The text focuses primarily on the fishing industry in France.

Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau was a well-respected physician, engineer and botanist during France’s Enlightenment era, who was elected to the French Academy of Sciences in 1728. He also founded a school for maritime engineers, and is recognized today as one of the forerunners of modern agronomy. The Traité général des pesches is an important historical work which provides unique insight into the practices around fishing in France during the mid-to-late 18th century.

Enjoy these wonderful images, and click here to explore the entire collection!


Detailed illustrations of line tying


Illustrations depicting the techniques for netting fish


Making nets


Illustration of a Cormorant bird


Processing fish


The Shad fish


Getting fish to market


The Carp fish


Large sailing and cargo ships – includes an image of a birch bark canoe

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Explore Open Collections – The Klondike Gold Rush

Posted on February 14, 2017 @9:29 am by Alyssa Hamer

Within our BC Historical Books collection, there is a true gold mine of materials – literally! Several of the rare and unusual texts in this collection relate to the Klondike Gold Rush era, which ran from 1897 to 1899. Documenting the lives and livelihoods of the traders and prospectors who passed through Western Canada to reach the Yukon, these items provide a glimpse into what life was like at a fascinating time in this country’s history. Click on any of the images for more information.


View from Porcupine Pass, near Skagway, Alaska


On the summit of the Chilcoot


Interior of the Klondyke Daily Nugget pressroom, Dawson


Underground work below Bonanza Creek


Prospectors and homesteaders around Dawson, Yukon


Dawson City, 1899, with notation indicating “Joe’s House”

It is estimated that almost $29 million worth of gold was mined in the brief span of the Klondike Gold Rush, and while many men failed to even recover their costs in reaching the Klondike, others truly struck it rich. Western Canada saw immense growth and development as a result of the economic boom: so many people passed through the region that the Yukon Territory was officially established in 1898, the population of Vancouver doubled, and the city of Edmonton tripled!


Excerpt from “In the Klondyke”, 1899


Advertisements in prospector’s guidebook, ca. 1897


Postcard with view of people climbing the Chilkoot pass, between 1900 and 1910

This time period continues to signify an age of adventure and discovery; an era when the odds were in anyone’s favour. To learn more about the Klondike Gold Rush, take a look at this entry from the Canadian Encyclopedia. The University of Washington also has a great collection of items about this time period – take a look here. And to explore more materials from Open Collections which relate to British Columbia’s own Gold Rush, click here and here to view previous blog posts!



The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Klondike Gold Rush,” http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/klondike-gold-rush/

University of Washington Libraries, “The Klondike Gold Rush,” http://content.lib.washington.edu/extras/goldrush.html

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Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:28 am by Alyssa Hamer

Movember is more than just a chance to grow out some gnarly facial hair (despite what some men may tell you)– this annual event is intended to raise awareness of men’s health issues including prostate and testicular cancer as well as men’s depression and suicide. By calling attention to some of these matters, the hope is that preventable deaths amongst this demographic will reduce through early cancer detection and treatment, and greater awareness of mental health issues. Canadians have been some of the largest contributors to Movember fundraising efforts in recent years, and Canada is currently poised to be in the top 3 of national fundraisers for 2016. To learn more about Movember, click here, and for information on some of the important work regarding men’s health happening right here at UBC, visit the Men’s Health Research website.

In support of Movember we’ve sought out the best and bushiest of moustaches from Open Collections. Enjoy, and be sure to let us know if you have a favourite!


Two loggers at rest, 1920


Portrait of man with top hat and cane, ca. 1900


Humorous croquet sportswear parody, 1922


Tom Wilson, first settler to discover Lake Louise, 1931


Reverend Chan Yu Tam, one of the first Chinese ministers in Vancouver

Crew aboard a steamship, ca. 1910


Two men on bridge in Japanese Garden at Tete Jaune Road Camp, 1942


Men of a sanitary section cleaning and repairing a well, between 1914 and 1918

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International Students’ Day

Posted on November 16, 2016 @10:37 am by Alyssa Hamer

International Students’ Day is celebrated annually on November 17. It is a day of both commemoration and celebration: a chance to recognize the 1939 Nazi German storming of Czech universities and the resulting arrests and deaths of hundreds of students; and a chance to celebrate and support the continued activism of student communities around the world today.

Here at the Digitization Centre, we’ve decided to feature some of our collection items which highlight student activism at UBC over the course of the last several decades. Student protests, sit-ins and other forms of activism give voice to the needs and rights of UBC’s student body, and have, at times,  led to widespread and progressive institutional change.

Perhaps the earliest student protest at UBC was known as the Great Trek, when nearly 1,200 students marched from downtown Vancouver to the unfinished Point Grey campus to protest government inaction on construction of the new university. To learn more about the Great Trek, check out this article from The Ubyssey.


Great Trek at Georgia and Granville streets, 1922

In 1968, due to overcrowding on-campus and a perceived lack of long-term vision for higher education in the province, over 1,000 students staged a massive sit-in to “liberate” UBC’s Faculty Club. The atmosphere of resistance and unrest coincided with a visit by American activist Jerry Rubin, and was no doubt informed by the radical activism taking place on university campuses across the border in the United States. As a result of the sit-in, a campus-wide day of reflection took place in order to address student concerns, and student involvement in the University’s governing bodies increased. For more information on this interesting period in the University’s history, click here and here.


Student sit-in at Faculty Club, 1968


Student sit-in at Faculty Club, 1968


Student sit-in at Faculty Club, 1968


The Ubyssey, October 25, 1968


The Ubyssey, October 25, 1968

Other forms of action and activism have taken place at UBC campus in the intervening years, and we will undoubtedly see more such events in the future.


School of Architecture paint-in, 1974


Student Robin Wiley speaking at tuition fee increase protest, 1995


Point Grey beach erosion protestors prevent start of erosion control project, 1974


Students sitting on floor of Administration building, ca. 1970

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Veterans’ Week 2016

Posted on November 30, 2016 @11:10 am by Alyssa Hamer

November 5-11 is National Veterans’ Week, and to commemorate the participation of Canadian men and women in wars and conflicts, both past and present, we’re digging in to Open Collections to highlight some of our collection items from the First and Second World Wars.

Our WWI & WWII Poster Collection features posters, ephemera and broadsides published in Canada and throughout Europe to promote recruitment, encourage the purchase of savings stamps and victory bonds, and highlight methods for supporting the war effort for those left at home. To view all of the items in this collection, click here.


“After the Storm” poster, ca. 1922


“I want you for the navy” poster, ca. 1917


Wall News Feb. 1945, produced by the Industrial Information Division of the National Film Board

Within the British Columbia Historical Newspaper Collection there are many references to the war and the war effort at home, which provide fascinating insight into the very real impacts the First and Second World Wars had on people right here in B.C. Below is a public notice in the Cumberland Islander newspaper in 1918 placed by Canada’s Minister of Finance urging Canadians to live frugally in order for more funds to go to the war effort.


“Fellow Canadians!” newspaper clipping from Cumberland Islander October 12, 1918

Lastly, our World War I British Press Photograph Collection depicts the day-to-day lives of soldiers and service men and women involved in every aspect of World War I, from cadet training to military hospital stays. These images serve as an important reminder of the daily struggles and sacrifices that service men and women made in the past, and continue to make today.  You can browse the entire collection here.


Railway workers cleaning carriage, between 1914 and 1918



Captured German airplane, between 1914 and 1918


Clearing the way for advancing troops at Somme, between 1914 and 1918

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