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.

It’s been nearly five years since Anne Lama, Library Conservator, joined the team at UBC Library. At the time, her move from Paris to Vancouver was a big change for her and her family. “We packed everything and decided to move first for one year,” she says. “And in fact, we fell in love with Canada and the people so we stayed.”

Having spent 10 years at the National Archives in France, Anne has brought time-tested experience to UBC Library but remembers the challenge of adapting to a new institution, language and culture, all at once. She noticed, for example, that the atmosphere at UBC—and Vancouver in general—is quite different than what she experienced in France. “It’s about the way people work and the difference, of course, with France. Here it’s very calm, everybody is zen,” she laughs. For new UBC hires, Anne’s advice is simple: “I would say take your time to get to know everybody, the services, and how it works before jumping in to your work.”

While relatively new to Canadian culture then—she did an internship in Toronto in 1999—she also had the unique opportunity to establish preservation-conservation processes at UBC, which, until she arrived, had not had a dedicated Conservator on staff. “National Archives has a big restoration lab with almost 20 people working there,” she recalls, who now works on a team of two with an assistant.

No longer the newcomer, Anne has a strong vision for the future. When asked about her wish list for the next five years, she doesn’t hesitate: “I really want to set up a Preservation Lab.”

“We try to evaluate our needs and to see in which direction we want to go,” she says, noting that the direction they choose would also inform what equipment the lab would house and the kinds of work the lab would specialize in. A balance needs to be struck between preventive conservation work for the general collection and the more specialized work that is required for materials in Rare Books and Special Collections. “We need specific materials to be able to perform reversible conservation work. We need to also use supplies which do not transform the object completely, but preserve the original aspect of the object, like Japanese paper or starch paste.”

As for life in Vancouver, Anne continues to make the most of it, bicycling on weekends and visiting the pool during summer, travelling, and exploring all the art available around the city. Though she doesn’t often get the chance these days, Anne also enjoys book binding in her spare time.

Anne Lama is one of UBC Library’s 2018 Employee Recognition Award winners, receiving the Employee Excellence Award for her outstanding work. Read more about the awards and this year’s recipients.

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).

Photo of Hanne Wassermann Walker taken by Trude Fleischmann

Hanne Wassermann Walker as photographed by Trude Fleischmann.

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.”

Postcards books and photos from the HanneWassermann Walker archive

Personal correspondence from the archive.

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.”

Faculty looking through the archive

Patricia Vertinsky, Ilinca Iuraşcu, Kyle Frackman and Katherine Kalsbeek pore over the archive.

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.

Learn more about the Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections.

Experience history at the tip of your pencil crayons with our new 'Mythical Creatures' themed digital colouring book.

To kick off 2019, UBC’s Music Art and Architecture Library and Rare Books and Special Collections are celebrating the year that was with a selection of 2018 new acquisitions.

The Music Art and Architecture Library selections, representing all of its subject areas, includes donation highlights, exhibition catalogues, music scores and manuscript facsimiles, and more. RBSC’s acquisitions highlights include items dating from the 16th century to 2018 and run the gamut from books and ephemera, to photographs, letters, artworks, and more. Make sure to keep an eye out for the “RBSC favourites,” top picks of RBSC’s archivists, librarians, staff, and students especially selected from among many 2018 acquisitions.

The selection of Music Art and Architecture Library and Rare Books and Special Collections 2018 acquisitions is on display in the foyer of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre until February 27, 2019. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

The Kelmscott Chaucer
Have you ever been curious about what we do or what we have at Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library (RBSC)? Interested in seeing the famous Kelmscott Chaucer in the flesh or a medieval bible from the 13th Century?
 
Join our weekly open house/hands-on show-and-tell for an introduction to our space and our unique materials and collections every Wednesday at 11 a.m.
 
The event is free and open to the general public, as well as the UBC community. No need to RSVP, just drop in to learn what RBSC is all about. 
 
Rare Books and Special Collections is located on the 1st floor of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, 1961 East Mall, UBC Vancouver campus.
 
For more information or to book visits for classes or large groups, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-0645 or rare.books@ubc.ca.
 
All classes should be booked at least a week in advance. No backpacks, overcoats, food, drink or pens are allowed in the seminar room. Lockers are provided.
Rare Book and Special Collections Tour
Join us in looking back at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre's past 10 years from August 27 through October 30, 2018 in the IKBLC Level 2 foyer and in Rare Books and Special Collections.

Blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm. These four humors were once thought to shape a person’s mental and physical health, behavior and even personality. Initially borrowed from Ancient Greek thinkers like Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Galen, the theory of the four humors was so ingrained into the common wisdom of Shakespeare’s time that references to melancholic displays and choleric outbursts fill his most popular plays. The interplay between medical theory and theatrical language forms the basis of a fascinating exhibition, created by the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health and the Folger Shakespeare Library, now coming soon to UBC Library.

The exhibition, “And there’s the humor of it”: Shakespeare and the four humors, will run from June 4 to July 14, 2018 and feature additional materials from UBC Library’s collections to explore related topics, such as Shakespearean theatre in British Columbia and Shakespeare in children’s literature. Collection highlights will include: the second edition folio of Shakespeare’s complete works (1632), first editions of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590), John Donne’s Poems (1633), and George Herbert’s The Temple (1633), along with medical manuals such as 16th century midwifery book The byrth of mankynde (1540) by Eucharius Rösslin and milestone physiology book, Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus (1628) by William Harvey.

On display at Rare Books and Special Collections on Level 1 of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and in the Memorial Room at Woodward Library, the exhibition is open to the general public as well as UBC students, staff and faculty across campus.

Many thanks to co-curators of the UBC Library collections materials Patricia Badir, Professor of English, Anthony Dawson, Professor Emeritus of English, and Department of English students Karol Pasciano (MA), Aiden Tait (BA Hons.), and Ana Maria Fernandez Grandizo (BA Hons.). Thank you also to John Christopoulos, Assistant Professor of History, for lending his subject matter expertise. UBC Library co-curators for the exhibition included Charlotte Beck, Chelsea Shriver, and Helen Brown.

Take this opportunity to view rare materials that chronicle both medical milestones and Shakespeare’s enduring relevance throughout the ages.

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