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.”

Explore Open Collections – Archibald Murchie Collection

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

A number of our smaller collections here at UBC Library contain truly interesting and unique content that provides insightful historical perspective on early British Columbian history. Today we’re highlighting one such example: the Archibald Murchie Collection is made up of more than 50 photographs taken in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s by “B.C.’s Evangelist photographer”.


Yale, B.C., ca. 1900


Ten horse team skidding logs, between 1890 and 1910

These photographs feature imagery from the Cariboo and Similkameen regions of the province, highlighting the infrastructure projects and development in these areas by early settlers. Bridge, dam and railroad construction projects figure prominently, as do landscape shots of the growing cities, scenes of crews at work, and local First Nations peoples.


Lytton, B.C., between 1890 and 1910


First Nations family outside their home in Chilliwack, B.C., between 1890 and 1910


First wheelbarrow in Cariboo, B.C., between 1890 and 1910

Archibald Murchie (1852-1930) was a Scottish immigrant and evangelist minister for the Spiritualist Church, an off-shoot of the Church of England. In the late 1800’s he decided to preach as a missionary in B.C.’s interior, and around the same time was hired to photograph the construction of a bridge over the Fraser River at Sheep Creek. As construction proved to be fairly slow, Murchie took the opportunity to travel to surrounding regions and photograph the growing towns and cities that were sprouting up. After a failed attempt at leading his own parish in Princeton, B.C., Murchie set up a photography studio in Ashcroft, B.C., eventually marrying and relocating to the Okanagan Valley.


Bridge construction in progress at Sheep Creek on the Fraser River, between 1890 and 1900


Stagecoach at 100 Mile House, B.C., between 1890 and 1910


First Nations men and women on riverbank, between 1890 and 1910

At his death in 1930, Murchie’s widow remarried and destroyed all of his photographic equipment. It was only by chance that, in 1948, several glass plate negatives were recovered from a chicken house under repair. Another interesting fact: Archibald’s brother was the founder of the now well-known local company, Murchie’s Tea & Coffee.


Man with dogs in snowy forest, between 1890 and 1910


Princeton, B.C., between 1890 and 1910


Men loading bobsled with logs near Westbank, B.C., ca. 1910

This collection is housed at UBC Okanagan Library’s Special Collections and Archives, and is a part of the Doug and Joyce Cox Research Collection. To view more images from the Archibald Murchie collection, click here!

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Celebrate Open – Impact Report 2015-2016

Posted on December 13, 2016 @2:36 pm by Alyssa Hamer

It’s Open Access Week 2016, a chance to celebrate practices that promote Open Access, Open Data and Open Education. This year’s theme is “Open in Action”, an opportunity to highlight key activities that the academic and scholarly community is taking to support and expand open access initiatives.

Here at the Digitization Centre we are proud to value the principles of openness, and are always looking into ways we can improve our participation and expand our contribution. To celebrate Open Access Week 2016, we’ve released the Digitization Centre’s 2015/2016 Impact Report! In this latest assessment, you can learn about all of the interesting projects we’ve been working on over the past 12 months, and some of the great content that has been digitized.


Detail of page from One Hundred Poets | 百人一首

The report highlights the exciting launch of our online digital portal Open Collections in October 2015, and includes statistics on the number of unique site visits to the portal, as well as our most popular collections.

Here are some interesting facts detailed in the report:

  • Open Collections has had over 1 million visitors in its first 12 months!
  • The Digitization Centre has had partnerships with both the Department of Near Eastern and Classical Studies, as well as the CiTR Student Radio Society, to complete digitization projects.
  • Staff at the digitization Centre have been working on a project to capture ephemeral online content related to B.C. and UBC through the web archiving tool, Archive-It.

One of the most favourited images on Flickr this past year!

To learn more about what we’ve been up to this past year, check out our Impact Report under “Reports” in our website’s Documentation section. And to learn more about how you can participate in Open Access Week 2016, click here.

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How We Digitize – Revisiting the Berkeley Poster Collection

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:41 am by Alyssa Hamer

The Berkeley Poster Collection, housed at the UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections, contains 250 posters created between 1968 to 1973 which document the advocacy and activism of student groups during the Vietnam War era. These posters attest to the tense political climate present in the United States and South East Asia during that time and the efforts of underground and guerilla groups to tap into the social conscience, pressing for greater awareness and public concern regarding the Vietnam War.


“Peace on Nixon”, 1973


“USA Stop Policing the World”, 1973 (with perforated edges of printer paper visible)


“America is a Democracy…”, 1973

At the Digitization Centre we frequently revisit and assess the quality of our digitized collections. As time passes our capacity to produce higher-quality digital images often improves due to newer equipment or scanning techniques. In the case of the Berkeley Poster Collection the images currently available through Open Collections were originally scanned in 2009. It is therefore not surprising that our facilities and equipment have changed so significantly that we’re now revisiting this collection to improve upon the current digital images we have!


A digitization student prepares posters for rescanning

Additionally, a large number of the posters were printed on discarded computer paper which was repurposed for the posters. A significant portion of these pages have computer code and data on the verso of the poster images – information which was not included in the original digital images but which has now been deemed important enough to include in this new round of scans. This type of “ephemera” not only offers insight into the type of work that early computers were doing at Berkeley in the sixties and seventies but also provides contextual information which situates this collection in a very specific time and location.


Verso of poster containing computer code


“America Saves the World”, 1973, ready to be rescanned

Sometimes it can be a challenge to assess all of the possible “values” that a historical item may have which is why it is so important to revisit and reassess digitized collections over time.

If you would like to browse the Berkeley Poster Collection, click here. To learn more about the equipment that we are using to rescan the posters check out this previous blog post on the topic!

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Celebrate Autumn

Posted on January 12, 2018 @4:07 pm by Alyssa Hamer

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.


Excerpt from “The Autumn” (1833) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning


There is an unmistakable feeling of fall in the air around UBC campus – the leaves are changing colour, the days are slowly becoming shorter and cooler, and talk about Hallowe’en costumes and parties is in full swing! To mark the season, enjoy the fall-themed images below selected from across Open Collections’ holdings – and be sure to click on any of the pictures for more information.


Harvesting Victory oats, 1929


Harvested wheat field with horse-drawn harvester in distance, between 1924-1935


Man using horse-drawn harvester, between 1924-1935


Service of thanksgiving in Lille Cathedral for relief of Lille by British troops, between 1914-1918

Harvest time in France, between 1914-1918

Harvest time in France, between 1914-1918


Autumn leaves on campus, 1981


Students enjoying the fall weather, 1981


Colleen Brady and Marguerite Yee show off some entries in annual Pharmacy pumpkin carving contest, 1997

Lica Chui, Charles Slonecker and Carole Forsythe with food collected by U.B.C. students during the Trick or Treat for the Food Bank on Halloween, 1995

Lica Chui, Charles Slonecker and Carole Forsythe with food collected by U.B.C. students during the Trick or Treat for the Food Bank on Halloween, 1995

Judy Newton in pumpkin patch in Botanical Garden, 1991

Judy Newton in pumpkin patch in Botanical Garden, 1991

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Celebrate World Teachers’ Day 2016!

Posted on November 2, 2016 @11:03 am by Alyssa Hamer

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

William Arthur Ward


World Teachers’ Day is celebrated annually on October 5 to recognize the important work that educators do every day around the world. For those of us lucky enough to have had remarkable teachers in our lives, it’s also a chance to reflect on the impact these important figures had on our personal and professional development, from kindergarten to college, and even beyond.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) has indicated that teachers “are the single most influential and powerful force for equity, access and equality in education,” and that worldwide there is a shortage of well trained teachers. (UNESCO)

Enjoy some of our favourite photos of teachers and their students from Open Collections, and take some time today to show your appreciation for an educator in your life.

Click on any of the images below for more information!


Instructor Takao Tanabe and Summer School painting class, 1962


Log scaling instruction at Youth Training School, 1958


Teacher Marlene Palmer with kindergarten class at Child Study Centre, 1987


Johnson Chow leading Chinese painting class, 1988


F.W. Vernon Teaching in classroom, 1943


Pottery instructor Rex Mason doing a demo, date unknown


Betty Howard teaching class, 1979


Angie Todd-Dennis, alumna of the Native Indian Teacher Education Program, 1998



Eric Arrouze, Cuisine and Culture Instructor, 2003


Murray Hodgson with students, 1993


Tashme Japanese Internment Camp secondary school teachers, 1943

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Explore Open Collections – Fisherman Publishing Society

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:53 am by Alyssa Hamer

The Fisherman Publishing Society formed in 1937 in order to publish The Fisherman, a newspaper that was jointly sponsored by the Salmon Purse Seiners Union and the Pacific Coast Fishermen’s Union. The newspaper highlighted industry and union events and promoted unity among fishermen along the West Coast.


Eulachons being unloaded at the Fraser River Fish Company dock at New Westminster, 1950

As one of the founding industries which led to the development and growth of British Columbia’s towns and cities, fishing and fisheries have historically played a large part in the lives of many people living on the West Coast, and continue to this day. Although the industry has seen its share of highs and lows, the photographs in this collection feature some of the incredible hauls that were captured, the vessels that were once so common to our shores, and the many people from diverse backgrounds involved, including First Nations, Chinese and Japanese peoples, Indo-Canadians and Europeans.


United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union protest meeting concerning Steveston Imperial, 1962


Fishing from seine boat with nets and rowboat, 1972


Whale on dock at Coal Harbour, British Columbia, date unknown


Ship cooks course at Vancouver School Board, 1960


View of the boat “Spray No.1”, 1962


View of halibut caught and displayed, date unknown


Views of the “Canfisco”, 1971

Enjoy the unique photos from this bygone era, and be sure to enjoy the full Fisherman Publishing Society collection at Open Collections!

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Explore Open Collections – Capilano Timber Company

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

UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections houses a number of rare materials relating to the logging and forestry industry in Vancouver and its surrounding regions. One such collection is that of the Capilano Timber Company, which operated on the North Shore for a fifteen-year period between 1915 and 1930.


Canadian Pacific Railway party, 1920


View of high rigger with axe standing beside another employee, 1920

In 1917, the American owned company began to aggressively log the watershed – the demand for high-quality lumber to construct aeroplanes during World War I meant the company received a high return on their investment. Given the steep terrain and narrow valleys on the North Shore, Capilano Timber Co. was forced to build a logging railway in order to get the timber to tidewater. By February 1919, 12.8km of track led in to the Capilano valley. Timber bridges were also necessary to move people and materials along the valley – the most impressive being the Houlgate trestle, which reached a height of 27 metres and spanned a length of 120 metres.


View of bridge construction, 1918


30 tonne Grand Locomotive, 1918


Log dump and derrick

At its peak, the Capilano Timber Co. employed 250 men cutting over 150,000 feet per day. Their living quarters were considered “civilization in the bush”: they had indoor taps running hot water, showers, and dining cars that served bacon, eggs and hotcakes for breakfast, and steaks, stews and pies for dinner. The company even invested in constructing houses for married couples, in order to attract a stable permanent workforce – although it’s not clear how successful this experiment was.


View of interior dining camp train car, 1919


Train full of people observing a logged forest

In 1925, the Capilano Timber Co. sold unmanufactured logs to local mills; however, by 1926 they had completed their own mill, and began to process thousands of feet of cedar, hemlock and fir. Just when operations were expanding rapidly and profits were at their peak, the 1929  economic depression hit and the Capilano mill was forced to close down.


View of two men at work, 1920

In its fifteen years of operation, the company harvested approximately 400,000,000 feet of timber, laid 80 kilometers of railway tracks, and spent $9,000,000 on wages and equipment. The company also left in its wake clear-cut and barren forests which were prone to washouts and forest fires for decades after the company’s operations ceased. In the intervening years many conservationists and local governments have attempted to rehabilitate the Capilano watershed region, and today it’s a source of much of Vancouver’s potable household water.  If you would like to learn more about the Capilano Timber Company, take a look at Anna Gabrielle Kahrer’s 1988 MA thesis paper titled Logging and landscape change on the north shore of Burrard Inlet, British Columbia, 1860’s to 1930’s in UBC’s scholarly repository, cIRcle. And be sure to check out the full collection of photographs in Open Collections!


Capilano River and the Lions, North Vancouver B.C.

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Explore Open Collections – World War I British Press Photos

Posted on January 10, 2018 @12:27 pm by Alyssa Hamer

UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections houses a selection of over 3,000 wartime images by the British Press. These photographs were approved by the British government during World War I and were distributed to overseas diplomats to be used in official projects. They depict the everyday drudgery, but also the humour and energy, of the soldiers and military personnel on the ground, as well as of those on the home front. It is an eclectic mix of images, and provides a multifaceted view of life during the Great War.

The University acquired these photographs in the 1930’s through the British Consulate in Seattle. Originals of these print copies, as well as thousands of other images, are available through Britain’s Imperial War Museum.

For a Canadian perspective on World War I, the Canadian War Museum has an online exhibition on Canada’s involvement and contribution to the First World War.

Click on any of the images below for more information.


Reading the newspaper from the trenches


Funeral of M. Basset – Distinguished dramatist and war correspondent


Ward at base hospital


The Battle of Flanders – Not the work of u-boats but a shell hole in a gasometer


“Sandbags instead of handbags” – lady ambulance drivers


Succoring a wounded soldier


Pilot and dog


Salvaging parts of plane


Nurse lights a soldier’s cigarette


British women working in lace factory in Nottingham


Wounded soldiers at a base hospital show their little mascot, a small black kitten


Service held to mark the commencement of 4th year of the war

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Back to School!

Posted on September 14, 2016 @11:54 am by Alyssa Hamer

It’s that time of year again – fall is just around the corner, and a new school year has begun. Whether you’re new to the UBC campus community, returning for another semester, or graduated long ago, it can be an exciting and even nostalgic time. Returning to school for a new year can be a rite of passage as we grow up, and many of our fondest memories and closest friendships can form in places of learning.

We’ve searched Open Collections to find the best back-to-school images – enjoy the photographs below, and click on any of them for more information.


School children at Fairview School, between 1910 and 1919



University Hill School, 1928


University Hill school class picture, 1928


Strathcona Elementary school kindergarten class, before 1910


High school and gymnasium, Powell River, 1947


Students of Model School, 1902


Britannia High School class picture, after 1950


Tashme Japanese internment camp Secondary School teachers


Students in language laboratory, 1974


UBC Education students visit Queen Charlotte Islands, 1973

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Explore Open Collections – Japanese Canadian Photograph Collection

Posted on November 23, 2016 @11:53 am by Alyssa Hamer

The Japanese community has had a long history in British Columbia, beginning with the first Japanese person to land on the coast in 1877, a sailor named Manzo Nagano. For the next 70+ years, members of the Japanese community in the province achieved great success while also facing ongoing prejudice and racism, as early settlers in B.C. struggled to accept these new immigrants.

In 1907, Anti-Oriental riots shook various coastal cities along the Pacific, including Vancouver. Pervasive racism, intolerance and economic instability led to extensive damage to Asian-owned properties throughout the city, and prompted the Japanese government to stop emigration of its nationals to Canada.


Building on Powell St. damaged during 1907 race riots, Vancouver

In February of 1942, in reaction to the events at Pearl Harbor, Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King issued a decree to evacuate all Japanese Canadians to “protective areas”, also known as internment camps. Men, women and children, many of whom were themselves born and raised in British Columbia, were relocated to the camps, and much of their property confiscated by the provincial government.


Truck transporting Japanese Canadian men to Tashme camp


Japanese Canadians being processed in Slocan


Group photograph at Slocan camp


Two men at internment camp , perhaps in Angler, ON.


Group of children at Lemon Creek camp


Group of Japanese Canadian girls participating in Bon-Odori (summer festival) at Greenwood camp

This collection documents these events while offering insight into the everyday lives of Japanese Canadians living in British Columbia throughout the 20th century. To learn more about this important collection, click here.



Shigetaka Sasaki family


Mrs. Shigejiro Edamura in front of an unidentified store


Mrs. Ume Niwatsukino with children Hisako, Hiroshi and Shigeru in Steveston, 1926

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