UBC had a centennial birthday yesterday! On September 30th 1915 the University of British Columbia held the first lectures for the newly formed University. To celebrate this momentus occasion we’re  taking a look back here on the blog at DI. Memories abound all over the campus and beyond.

Check out some of the amusing, amazing, even astonishing photos of what else was going on in the year 1915. Click on the pictures to see even more.

1st building

Leonard_Klinck_sitting_by_first_building_at_Point_Grey_Campus This is the first and second buildings on what would become the UBC campus taken in 1951. Check out that sign on the first building– “Danger” is right!

The year 1915 was also a major year in WW1. Many people were volunteering for the army, being shipped overseas, or participating in the war effort however they could.

Oh_please_do_Daddy_Buy_me_a_victory_bond (1)

The common citizen would have seen a lot of posters for Victory Bonds- bonds sold by the government to support the war effort.

Soldiers_marching_in_Vancouver_Island (1)

Thousands gathered to see volunteers of the 30th Battalion leave for the front in Victoria BC

Three_soldiers (1)

Soldier_in_uniform Both men and women volunteered as soliders involved in the war effort.

At home people kept on living- getting married, working, and gardening- and of course, going to school!

Bride_groom_and_groomsman_with_flower_girls (2)    Farmers (1)Group_photo_of_women_students (1)


UBC Okanagan + DI = Gold Mine of Information

Digital Initiatives is at it again with UBC Okanagan Library, to provide you with new historical resources from the resource industry!

Employees at DI helped to consult and work collaboratively with Arielle Lomness, Collections Librarian at UBC Okanagan and Dual MAS/MLIS candidate Paige Hohmann, in digitizing two collections belonging to the UBC Okanagan Library: the Simpson Family fonds and Doug and Joyce Cox Research Collection.

Along the way UBC Okanagan also set benchmarks for their upcoming digital collections. Overall digitization of both donations will continue over the coming year, but are available currently for in-person research at the UBC Okanagan Library


The newly renovated UBC Okanagan Special Collections Room opened November 2014. This space holds the monographs, serials, and some audiovisual material of the Okanagan-focused collection.

.For now, learn more about the cool fonds and collection that are coming to a computer near you soon!

Simpson Family Fonds

In July 2014, Sharron J. Simpson donated her family papers to UBC Okanagan Library’s developing Okanagan Special Collections (OSC). The Simpson Family fonds, documents Ms. Simpson’s grandfather, Stanley M. Simpson of Kelowna, his wood processing plants known collectively as S. M. Simpson Ltd. and its corporate successors. For almost fifty years, S. M. Simpson oversaw one of the largest and most important forestry and wood processing operations in the Okanagan Valley. At the time the company was also one of the most relied upon employers in the area.

The collection features a photographic record of the changes of the forestry industry in B.C.’s interior during the first half of the twentieth century, and includes collection of labour and union related documents, including collective agreements and administrative documents.


Part of the Simpson Family fonds housed in the Okanagan Special Collection (OSC) – Archives.

Doug and Joyce Cox Research Collection:

In January 2015, Doug and Joyce Cox donated the aggregate of Mr. Cox’s records supporting Mr. Cox’s career as a writer and self-publisher (Skookum Publications), 12.2 meters of material, to the Okanagan Special Collections’ (OSC). The material collected ranges in dates from 1870 to 1960.

The Cox Collection features a wealth of collected materials, including those of prominent pioneers: F.X. Richter (Kelowna, B.C), Valentine Haynes (Osoyoos B.C.), and J.M. Robinson (Naramata, B.C.). In addition to family photo collections, there are other aggregations collected on a basis of subject (i.e. ranching, mining) and geography in the region.


Example artifact from the Simpson Family fonds – a framed pencil. These were created for use in S.M. Simpson’s various businesses around the Okanagan.

Full descriptions of the collections are available now online – http://rbscarchives.library.ubc.ca/. In addition to the digital collections, a website featuring the newly updated Special Collections and archival collections will be available this fall through the UBC Okanagan Library website. More information will be made available shortly through http://library.ok.ubc.ca/.

We’ve posted about the Uno Langmann BC Historical Photograph Collection before here, here, and here, but now we’ve got even more to talk about!

Like, for example, this newly uploaded photo:


Of the 4 people in this picture at least 2 are thinking only about that dog.

In case you want a refresher (and to know where this photo originates) – The Uno Langmann BC Historical Photograph Collection, with over 18,000 photographs, was donated by Uno Langmann a local Vancouver art dealer and his wife. It is considered an amazing collection of early photography, and local provincial history. The photos themselves span the ages – from 1850 all the way to the 1970s!

Today we want to announce lots of new albums from this collection have gone live! From only two albums last year at this time we now have more than 55 albums up for exploration- with more to come!

Take a bite out of the Uno Langmann BC Historical Photograph Collection! Click on any of the pictures to be taken to the albums.

Get a look into daily life…


A photo taken between 1895-1905 –Parenting the old school way…in between reading your books.


Titled “The Student” –This girl is ready to take on UBC in the fall don’t you think?


Whose up for watching the band play by the water? Everyone? Okay!

Local history is everywhere in these photos too, from the fire at Pier D in 1911, to the building of the Lions Gate Bridge.


Lions Gate bridge half built!


Fire at Pier D in 1911 – One of the largest and most infamous of the Vancouver waterfront fires.

Hope these images we’ve collected wet your appetite for more!


We’ve talked a lot about how we digitize, but have you ever wondered how we decide what we digitize? There are a lot of criteria for a collections digitization – durability, funding and interest are some – but one criteria point for digitization that is less well known is if the collection will help people learn something new.

One of the collections going through this process right now is the Trutch Family Fonds – currently stored at UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections. Much of Trutch collection are letters written to and from Joseph Trutch who was a well-known political figure in colonial times in Victoria, B.C. Today he is particularly noted for his hostile view of First Nations people, and his push for their forced assimilation. The collection includes many of Trutch’s personal letters. Scholars today review his letters for insight into the common prejudices of the time. Some of which look like this:


And some of which look like this:


Known as “crossed letters” the second set of letters is written in a style called cross writing or cross-hatching. It was once a common practice to have letters that contained two sets of writing written over one another. This usually meant the letter writer wrote to the bottom of the page, turned the paper, and kept writing!


A close up of cross writing

During the early days of the postal system this was done to save money on paper and expensive postage costs. Many postal systems charged by the pages per letter or even the size of the paper.

It might be hard to read at first but many find they adapt after a while. Once you become familiar you learn to ignore the other words. Or at least we hope that’s what happens!

Thankfully a relative of Trutch spent time and energy transcribing many of the letters, something that can be accessed with the collection at RSBC. The letters are also widely known and cited in historical research sources than many things at RSBC. It helps too that most people don’t usually want to squint through the actual letter.

The counter argument, for digitization, is Joseph Trutch was a well known historical figure. Many more people might enjoy seeing the letters digitally and comparing them side-by-side with the transcription.

Keep checking back! You never know, maybe someday you too can go cross-eyed reading cross-hatching.


In celebration of Family Day we are sharing some of our favorite family portraits found within our digital collections. Want to see more? Simply type in “family” in on our digital collections page! Refine your search to only find images within specific collections. Click on the images to see them enlarged.

What are your plans for the long weekend?




 Which one was your favorite? 


It is our pleasure to announce that the Planat in Action: Accessibility Assessment of UBC Competition and Accommodation Venues for the Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games report is available in cIRcle, UBC’s Digital Repository!

Serving as the host venue from July 8-12, 2014, UBC’s Vancouver campus proudly welcomed 1,300 athletes with intellectual disabilities for the Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games. Over 350 students, staff and faculty from the UBC community signed up for volunteer opportunities for the Games.

These opportunities ranged from “UBC varsity athletes [who] volunteered at training camps and formed a team with Special Olympics BC athletes at the annual Storm the Wall student recreation event” to “[m]ore than 100 students [being] involved in projects related to the Games such as creating maps, reducing waste, sourcing local food, and eliminating the need for bottled water” and much more.

This report provides a summary of each venue used during the Games along with recommendations. It is based on information and photo gathering on current accessibility and inclusive features at venues and public spaces used during the Games.

Read the full report in cIRcle at: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/50894.

Explore the Centre for Sport and Sustainability (CSS) community and its collections in cIRcle at: https://circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/35776.

Above text in italics is courtesy of 604 Now

Above image is courtesy of the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre

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