One hundred and six years of British Columbia’s governmental papers are now available to anyone with a wifi connection and a device. The British Columbia Sessional Papers, an annual collection of selected papers tabled in the Legislative Council of British Columbia and the Legislative Assembly is now publicly accessible through UBC Library’s Open Collections.
The collection contains materials that document the political, historical, economic and cultural history of British Columbia and 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 multi-year project began as a collaborative endeavor in 2014 executed by five provincial institutions, collectively known as the BC Government Publications Digitization Group. The group made up of representatives from UBC, the Legislative Library of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria and the University of Northern British Columbia aims to increase access to primary source materials. The project was then carried out by UBC Library thanks to a grant from The British Columbia History Digitization Program and materials provided by the Legislative Library of British Columbia.
Improved accessibility facilitates research
The collection, which now includes over 4,000 items in total, highlights the cultural, economic, social and political atmosphere of their historical era and are being used for research in multiple fields.
“Annual reports within the Sessional Papers have helped answer reference questions about the history of public schools in British Columbia, road and infrastructure policies of the 1940s and 1950s and relations with the provincial government and First Nations Peoples,” notes Susan Paterson, Government Publications Librarian at UBC Library. “The project has also been used by researchers outside of UBC including Canadian federal departments, law firms, and independent researchers.” Digital Projects Librarian Eirian Vining confirms the relevance of these papers to broader researchers: “We also see a lot of genealogists using these materials because of the voter lists contained within them.”
Andrea Lister, Editor of British Columbia History Magazine uses the records regularly for fact-checking and appreciates the increased accessibility, “The collection allows researchers, regardless of location, access to records that allow for analysis of the political, historical, economic, and cultural history of British Columbia.”
An eye to preservation
The project has also enabled UBC Library to better preserve the collection. “This collection is not easily browsed,” says Vining, “So, now it can be accessed more frequently and more widely without the worry of wear and tear.”
The collection is well-used with more than 17,000 item downloads and more than 860K item views since its launch and is being used by researchers globally including France, the U.S., Germany, China, Russia and the Ukraine.
In honour of the 60th anniversary of the Library’s acquisition of the Puban Collection, Rare Books and Special Collections will be hosting bi-weekly tours highlighting items from the Puban Collection throughout the summer, from July 9 to August 20.
The Puban Collection, one of UBC Library’s collections of rare books, was gathered by Chinese physician Junshi Yao during the 1940s and 1950s. This year we’re celebrating the 60th anniversary of the collection’s acquisition by UBC. Spanning 45,000 volumes, the collection is one of the primary resources for Chinese studies in North America.
The Ridington Room in the Music, Art and Architecture (MAA) Library at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre has added a new permanent installation that will be of interest to anyone with a penchant for medieval illuminated manuscripts. The Book of Kells facsimile, which was acquired by UBC Library’s Rare Book & Special Collections in 1990, had previously been housed in UBC Library’s Vault, but now resides in a secure, purpose-built display case, accessible to the UBC community.
The original Book of Kells, which is held on permanent display at Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland, is a 9th Century manuscript documenting the four Gospels of the New Testament in Latin. Named after the Abbey of Kells, where it was kept for centuries before moving to Trinity College, the manuscript is divided into four volumes.
UBC Library’s facsimile of the Book of Kells was produced by Swiss publisher Faksimile-Verlag Luzern in 1979 using cutting edge technology of the time to photograph the original pages and produce a limited run of exact copies. UBC Library’s copy, no. 349, is accompanied by a presentation book from Vancouver’s Book of Kells Committee, which formed in 1987 in order to purchase the item through donor support. The original Book of Kells Committee consisted of 14 members who together raised $16,000 from 340 local donors. A plaque attached to the display case celebrates those who offered their support.
The Book of Kells is available to view during the MAA Library’s regular hours of operation. Check the website to find out more.
UBC Library’s Rare Books & Special Collections (RBSC) has acquired the personal archive of Hanne Wassermann Walker (1893-1985), a significant figure of pre-WWII Viennese cultural and social life. Her remarkable story has been relatively unknown until now.
Born in Vienna to a Jewish family, Hanne Wassermann Walker left Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938. After living briefly in England, and then in New York, she went on to emigrate to Canada, taking up residence in Vancouver and later North Vancouver with her second husband, George Dickson Walker. She became a resident of British Columbia in 1943.
A well-known figure of Viennese society during the 1920s and 1930s, Wassermann Walker was at the forefront of the Weimar-era body culture movement. Her school of gymnastics and health manuals for women brought her international fame and recognition from reputed medical institutions and clinical specialists. Among her correspondents, friends and students were film stars, artists and members of the European aristocracy, including the Rothschild family, Lady Louis Mountbatten, Helen of Greece and Denmark and actress and wireless communications pioneer Hedy Lamarr.
UBC Library offered right of first refusal
In 1985, Hanne died without heirs, and items from her estate were acquired by a local collector. In the Fall of 2018, Katherine Kalsbeek, Head of Rare Books and Special Collections, and Krisztina Laszlo, RBSC Archivist were offered first refusal on the archive by a local bookseller. With the support of faculty from many UBC departments, Kalsbeek and Laszlo worked to identify the funds required to ensure that the archive would stay in British Columbia. “The response from both UBC and the larger community has been exceptional,” says Kalsbeek, “From numerous individual donors, to foundations, to key departments here at the university, there has been overwhelming support for our effort to ensure that Hanne’s archive stays in British Columbia.” The library saw generous support from the Azrieli Foundation, Reesa Greenberg and the Clematis Foundation, Lorne Greenberg and the Lorne Greenberg Family Partnership, Anthony von Mandl of Mission Hill Family Estate winery, the UBC President’s Office, the Faculty of Arts, the School of Kinesiology, and the Department of Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies (CENES).
The archive itself is extensive, including an impressive number of documents, correspondence, print media coverage, photographs and artifacts that span over a century.
One of the highlights is the collection of documents and photographs tracing Wassermann Walker’s life-long friendship with Trude Fleischmann, ranked among the most significant portrait-photographers of the 20th century. Not unlike Wassermann herself, Fleischmann was forced to leave Vienna during the war, to relaunch her career on the North American continent. The archive contains hundreds of photographs taken by Fleischmann during the height of Wassermann Walker’s successful career in Vienna.
A large part of the archive documents Wasserman Walker’s struggle to obtain compensation for the loss of her family’s property seized by the Nazis. The archive contains letters from lawyer Gustav Rinesch, informing Hanne of the details of her parent’s estate and his work on her and her sister’s behalf with the government of Austria.
Acquisition keeps collection together
The sheer size and breadth of the archive presents countless unique opportunities for research, teaching and learning in a number of fields from Holocaust studies, and Women’s Studies, to Kinesiology and Fine Art. Krisztina Laszlo, RBSC Archivist, notes that the acquisition of this archive “is an example of RBSC’s effort to increase our documentation of women’s role in history. Representation of women, and their successes in the life of this province, and the larger world, needs to be celebrated, preserved and recognized.”
Dr. Patricia Vertinsky, Professor in UBC’s School of Kinesiology is particularly interested in parts of the collection that involve Wasserman-Walker’s exercise system, “What interests us in Kinesiology is exploring the provenance of these exercise systems and then understanding the way in which Hanne brought them to Vancouver. She spent forty years teaching them, first in Vienna and later in Vancouver in people’s basements and community centres – two completely different worlds.”
Dr. Ilinca Iuraşcu, Assistant Professor of German at UBC is excited about how the archive will enable young people to understand the importance of women’s history as lived history. “The story that all these material testimonies tell is not merely one about reconstituting a unique biography and exceptional career. This is also a lesson about living cultural networks and building bridges among spaces and histories: Vienna and Vancouver; communities of health and aesthetic practitioners – and the sheer force of connecting the dots between them.”
Perhaps most heartening is that the Library’s acquisition of the full archive prevents the archive from being broken up, divided and sold, which would have meant that the fulsome picture it presents of Wassermann Walker’s life and work would be lost forever.
Daniel Marshall wins the 2019 Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for his illuminating narrative of the 1858 Fraser River Valley gold rush.
Dr. Daniel Marshall has won the Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia for his book Claiming the land: British Columbia and the making of a new El Dorado. The $2,500 prize, given by UBC Library and the Pacific BookWorld News Society, will be awarded at UBC’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre in April.
Published by Rondsale Press, Marshall’s book is a carefully researched narrative of the 1858 Fraser River Valley gold rush that enriches our understanding of that pivotal period in British Columbia and the geopolitical forces at play.
“As I prospected my way down the Pacific Slope through American archival collections, following the trail of the ’58ers back to California, a significant piece of the gold rush puzzle began to emerge that was largely lost to time—an epic telling of violence, native-newcomer conflict, and war with Indigenous peoples on either side of the 49th parallel,” says Dr. Marshall. “The very roots of Indigenous rights and unrest current in the province today can be traced to the 1858 gold rush and the making of a new El Dorado.”
“Dr. Marshall’s book provides a new, richly informative look at a chaotic period in British Columbia’s history,” says Susan E. Parker, UBC’s University Librarian. “We are thrilled to be able to highlight, once again, the work of an author and academic from British Columbia.”
Dr. Daniel Marshall is an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Victoria. He is also the author of Those Who Fell from the Sky: A History of the Cowichan Peoples, which received a BC2000 Millennium Award. Dr. Marshall serves as a Special Advisor on gold rushes to the Royal BC Museum.
Shortlisted titles for the prize are:
Incorporating Culture: how Indigenous People are Reshaping the Northwest Coast Art Industry, Solen Roth (UBC Press).
Don’t Never Tell Nobody Nothin’ No How: the Real Story of West Coast Rum Running, Rick James (Harbour Publishing).
About the Prize
The Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Book on British Columbia, sponsored by UBC Library and the Pacific BookWorld News Society, recognizes the best scholarly book published by a Canadian author on a B.C. subject. The book prize was established in memory of Basil Stuart-Stubbs, a bibliophile, scholar and librarian who passed away in 2012. Stuart-Stubbs’s many accomplishments included serving as the University Librarian at UBC Library and as the Director of UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies. Stuart-Stubbs had a leadership role in many national and regional library and publishing activities. During his exceptional career, he took particular interest in the production and distribution of Canadian books and was associated with several initiatives beneficial to authors and their readers, and to Canadian publishing.