The Canada Memory of the World Register highlights exceptional works and documents that reflect the wealth and diversity of Canada’s documentary heritage.

Portrait of Chinese men and women, Vancouver. Between 1900- 1909. Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection, UBC Library.

BC Library’s Chung Collection has been added to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s Canada Memory of the World Register in recognition of its historical value.

Showcasing the most significant documents of our heritage, UNESCO’s Memory of the World program is an international initiative launched to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity against collective amnesia, neglect, the ravages of time and climatic conditions, and wilful and deliberate destruction. It calls for the preservation of valuable archival holdings, library collections and private individual compendia all over the world for posterity, the reconstitution of dispersed or displaced documentary heritage, and the increased accessibility to and dissemination of these items. The Canada Memory of the World Register highlights exceptional works and documents that reflect the wealth and diversity of Canada’s documentary heritage.

In being added to the Canadian register, the Chung Collection joins a short list of Canadian works and documentary collections including the Canadian Pacific Railway Company Fonds, The Vancouver Island Treaties and Witnesses of Founding Cultures: Early Books in Aboriginal Languages (1556-1900).

About the collection

The Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection was donated to UBC Library by the Chung Family in 1999. The family added a second significant donation to the collection in 2014 and has continued to donate items over the years. Inspired to start collecting by an illustrated poster of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company’s steamship R.M.S. Empress of Asia in his father’s tailor shop in Victoria, Dr. Wallace B. Chung amassed more than 25,000 items over sixty years. The collection consists of textual records, maps, artefacts, books and other materials and focuses on three main themes: early British Columbia history and exploration, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), and early immigration and settlement, with a particular focus on the Chinese experience.

“UBC Library is proud to be the home of the Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection and I am thrilled to see it receive this well-deserved national recognition,” says Susan E. Parker, University Librarian, “This collection is stewarded by the library and actively engaged with by our faculty, students, and staff and by the broader community. We are honoured that Dr. Chung has entrusted UBC Library to ensure this history is preserved and available for research and learning.”

“One of our core mandates at Rare Books and Special Collections is to collect and preserve materials that directly relate to the history of British Columbia and its place in the world,” says Krisztina Laszlo, Archivist.  “The Chung Collection is critical in understanding this history; it documents a story that is relevant not only to the people of Canada, but is of global importance.  For example, in preserving materials related to the Chinese diaspora and their struggles and triumphs in the New World, they teach us all lessons of resilience and triumph in the face of adversity.”    

The Chung Collection is housed in Rare Book and Special Collections in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC Library and is available to scholars and members of the public in British Columbia and beyond. Weekly drop-in tours are held every Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Read the announcement from the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

Learn more about the Chung Collection.

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