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.

Explore the British Columbia Sessional Papers collection through UBC Library’s Open Collections. 

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The fifth annual Aboriginal (Un) History Month exhibit is now on display at UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. 

This exhibit asks the question “Whose 150?” and explores the rich Indigenous history and culture in Canada. The eight cases include video, maps, video animated graphics, stories and histories – aimed at encouraging conversation and learning about the broader context of Canada’s 150.  

“This year, many Canadians are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada. For them, the development of Canada from a colony to an independent nation is the story of the emergence of a democratic nation exceptional in both its history and promise. That is, however, a history that looks very different to many Indigenous people in Canada…By truthfully and directly addressing the history and current circumstances of Indigenous people—and acting upon what we come to understand—we can work together to make Canada a country and a society we can all more fully join in celebrating.” – Linc Kesler, Director, First Nations House of Learning

Exhibit partners include the Musqueam First Nation, UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, UBC’s Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre and UBC Library’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

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For more information on the themes of the cases, visit the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre website

The exhibit is open to the public daily from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, Level 2, and will be on display until August 30, 2017.

 

UBC is located on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people.

 

About Aboriginal (Un)History Month

The “un” represents the continued importance and relevance of Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world. These contributions should be recognized daily, not just once a year. The first Aboriginal (Un)History Month event kicked off in June 2012.

 

Exhibit partners

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A century's worth of the Prince George Citizen was digitized thanks to support from the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

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.

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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.

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Student sit-in at Faculty Club, 1968

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Student sit-in at Faculty Club, 1968

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Student sit-in at Faculty Club, 1968

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The Ubyssey, October 25, 1968

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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.

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School of Architecture paint-in, 1974

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Student Robin Wiley speaking at tuition fee increase protest, 1995

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

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Students sitting on floor of Administration building, ca. 1970

The Indigitization project brought past program participants together in June 2016 to discuss digitization practices and Indigenous knowledge in communities. The article appears in Issue 4 of BCLA Perspectives.

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