Many thanks to guest blogger Claire Williams for contributing the below post! Claire is a graduate student at UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies and has worked on processing labour history-related archival materials at RBSC.

As another September rolls around, and we take the first Monday off to celebrate Labour Day, we wanted to highlight some of the primary sources we have at RBSC that document the struggles won by the labour movement.

A Brief History of Labour Day

Labour Day in Canada has its origins in a struggle that originated over a century ago. In the late 1800’s, industrial workers in North America demanded humane working conditions, including a nine-hour workday. The Toronto Typographical Union went on strike in support of these demands, and many of the leaders of the strike were subsequently arrested. Following a public outcry, including large protests of the unfair treatment of the workers, parliament passed the Trade Unions Act, legalizing union activity and the legal right to strike. The legacy of this struggle led to the declaration of Labour Day as a national holiday. So began a tradition of recognizing the power of individuals who were willing to fight for the rights of the working class. While these struggles resulted in major legal and policy changes, they also came at a high cost to some workers who faced legal punitive action, loss of employment, arrest, and on occasion, physical violence.

Exploring Records of the Labour Movement

Here at Rare Books and Special Collections, we hold a wealth of primary sources related to labour history. I work at RBSC as a student archivist, where it is my job to arrange and describe these records in order to provide for their long-term preservation and access. One of the fonds I worked on was the Jean Sheils Research Collection. Sheils’ father, Arthur “Slim” Evans, had been a leading member of the On-to-Ottawa trek in 1935. During the trek over 1,000 unemployed men rode the trains from Vancouver to Ottawa in order to appear before the federal government and request better working conditions in the labour relief camps. The trek ended in Regina on 1 July 1935 when a riot broke out between the trekkers, their supporters, and the RCMP and local police.

 

For a guide to more labour related material at RBSC, see our research guide on the topic, located at http://guides.library.ubc.ca/labourhistoryarchives. To view this and other material in person, please come down to the RBSC reading room located in the basement of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

 

From upper left corner: Wood sample, “Effect of Fertilizer on Mature Trees,” (n.d), MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. (181-06); Penick and Co. Oils, 1957, MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. (181-05); Keys to the first paper mill in B.C., ca. 1894, MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. (180-22).

Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library is delighted to announce a new exhibition: 150 Years of Forestry in British Columbia.

Curated by Ashlynn Prasad, MAS/MLIS Candidate at the University of British Columbia, under the supervision of RBSC Archivist Krisztina Laszlo, 150 Years of Forestry in British Columbia takes a broad view of the forestry industry in British Columbia from 1861 to 2016. Items on display are drawn from key RBSC collections with strong ties to forestry and illustrate the evolution of a cornerstone industry in B.C.

The exhibition is being staged in honour of the 10th anniversary of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre (IKBLC). Dr. Irving K. Barber, who as the principal donor gave $20 million towards the building’s development and construction in 2012, was a leader within B.C.’s forestry industry for much of his career. A second exhibition, A Place of Learning: The Evolution of the Library and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, explores the construction and physical evolution of the 1925 Library building and its transition to the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. Curated by Archivist Erwin Wodarczak, all items featured in the exhibition come from the collections of the University Archives, which serves to identify, preserve and showcase the University’s permanently valuable records. 

150 Years of Forestry in British Columbia will be on display at Rare Books and Special Collections through November 16, 2018. The RBSC reading room is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca. A Place of Learning: The Evolution of the Library and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre is on display on level 2 (main foyer) of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre through October 31, 2018.

Shakespeare’s first folio. Image courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library is delighted to announce a new exhibition:And there’s the humor of it”: Shakespeare and the Four Humors.

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 at UBC Library.

The traveling exhibition, “And there’s the humor of it”: Shakespeare and the Four Humors, has been supplemented with additional materials from UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections, exploring topics including Shakespearean theatre in British Columbia and Shakespeare in children’s literature. More information about the National Library of Medicine display and the materials at RBSC is available through the UBC Library website.

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.

The panels on loan from the National Library of Medicine will be on display at Woodward Library through July 14 and the books on display at Rare Books and Special Collections will be available through August 3, 2018. The RBSC reading room is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For Woodward Library’s hours, check their website. The exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at (604) 822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

This past spring term, Rare Books and Special Collections hosted a number of classes from a wide variety of disciplines, including English, history, art history, German studies, Asian studies, and many more. We love hosting classes, as it allows us to introduce so many more students to our amazing collections. We especially love to see the results of the students’ work with our collections and the incredible insights they bring to their topics. Now we’re very happy to share some of this great student work with you!

One of the assignments for Professor Patsy Badir’s course, “Image and Text in Seventeenth Century Literature,” was an in-depth exploration of a single book from a selection of 17th-century items here at RBSC. Students were asked to research the history of the item and introduce it to a public audience online. We’ve shared a few student projects to share with you and hope you’ve enjoyed them.

Finally, Millika Veltmeyer’s exploration of the 1634 edition of The Workes of That Famous Chirurgion Ambrose Parey

https://ofmonstersandprodigies.weebly.com/

This edition of Paré’s works is currently on display for the exhibition And there’s the humor of it”: Shakespeare and the Four Humors, which is free and open to the public.

WWII Japanese Canadian lettersRare Book and Special Collections at UBC Library is thrilled to have acquired an extraordinary collection of letters that provide unique insight into the devastating effects of the Japanese Canadian internment during World War II.

The collection of 147 letters, written to donor Joan Gillis in 1942 by a group of young Japanese Canadians she met while attending Queen Elizabeth Secondary School in Surrey, talk of daily life and the challenges faced by these young people after being ordered out of the “Security Zone” on the B.C. coast, and are filled with frequent references to acute homesickness and sadness at being removed from their homes. The writers range in age from 13 to 18.

RBSC is pleased to be able to add this unique acquisition to its robust Japanese Canadian Research collection that includes materials on business and commerce, mining, farming, fishing, forestry, religious activities, education, community, reminiscences and biographies in addition to materials on the Japanese Canadian evacuation.

You can learn more about the collection of letters by reading the full press release. If you’d like to see the letters in person, feel free to visit Rare Books and Special Collections and join a tour!

Shakespeare second folioThis past spring term, Rare Books and Special Collections hosted a number of classes from a wide variety of disciplines, including English, history, art history, German studies, Asian studies, and many more. We love hosting classes, as it allows us to introduce so many more students to our amazing collections. We especially love to see the results of the students’ work with our collections and the incredible insights they bring to their topics. Now we’re very happy to share some of this great student work with you!

One of the assignments for Professor Patsy Badir’s course, “Image and Text in Seventeenth Century Literature,” was an in-depth exploration of a single book from a selection of 17th-century items here at RBSC. Students were asked to research the history of the item and introduce it to a public audience online. We have a few of these student projects to share with you and hope you enjoy them. Perhaps you will be inspired to stop by RBSC to see one of the items for yourself!

Next up: Ana Maria Fernandez Grandizo’s exploration of the second folio edition of Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies:

https://anamariafdzg.wixsite.com/ubcshakespearefolio/printing-binding

Enjoy!

Image from Wither's EmblemesThis past spring term, Rare Books and Special Collections hosted a number of classes from a wide variety of disciplines, including English, history, art history, German studies, Asian studies, and many more. We love hosting classes, as it allows us to introduce so many more students to our amazing collections. We especially love to see the results of the students’ work with our collections and the incredible insights they bring to their topics. Now we’re very happy to share some of this great student work with you!

One of the assignments for Professor Patsy Badir’s course, “Image and Text in Seventeenth Century Literature,” was an in-depth exploration of a single book from a selection of 17th-century items here at RBSC. Students were asked to research the history of the item and introduce it to a public audience online. We have a few of these student projects to share with you and hope you enjoy them. Perhaps you will be inspired to stop by RBSC to see one of the items for yourself!

First up: Aiden Tait’s exploration of George Wither’s Collection of Emblemes, Ancient and Moderne:

https://a-tait.tumblr.com/

Enjoy!

Many thanks to guest blogger Ashlynn Prasad for contributing the below post! Ashlynn is a graduate student at UBC’s School School of Library, Archival and Information Studies and the curator of our new exhibition of photographs from the Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs.

When I first began perusing the Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs, which is available for public viewing in Rare Books and Special Collections in the Irving K. Barber Learning Center, and digital copies of which can be found online, I approached the photographs with the awareness that many of them were between 100 and 150 years old, and I therefore began the project with the expectation of finding photographic evidence of how much British Columbian scenery and landmarks have changed in the past century, after rapid advancements in technology as well as continuing urban development.

While I did find evidence of change, I was surprised to also find that many of the landmarks closely associated with British Columbia have varied very little in appearance in the past century. I got the sense while looking through the photographs that certain images, though they were taken up to 150 years ago in some cases, could have been taken a mere few days ago. With this in mind, I designed the exhibition in the spirit of a before-and-after, except that instead of juxtaposing new images with old images, I juxtaposed turn-of-the-century images with each other, showing on the one hand images which seem dated (from a modern observer’s perspective) and on the other hand images that look quite familiar. For a more traditional before-and-after comparison, please see below for contemporary versions of the scenes depicted in the exhibition.

Something else that I tried to keep in mind during the curation of this exhibition was the audience to which the photographs would likely be exposed while on display in Ike’s Café. On a personal note, I was born in the lower mainland and spent the earlier half of my life here, before moving to the United States and spending the latter half there. Because of this, I found myself tangentially familiar with a lot of the names I encountered during the curation of the exhibition, and in some instances the scenes in the images themselves were also intimately familiar to me. However, having been away for so long, I also had to do quite a bit of Google Maps searching of place names that would likely be extremely familiar to someone who had spent their entire life here.

I tried to keep in mind that the individuals coming through the café will have varying levels of familiarity with British Columbian landmarks – some will know them well, some will be experiencing them for the first time, and many will fall somewhere in between. I tried to curate an exhibition that could appeal to people at any position on the spectrum by showcasing landmarks that are generally quite well known, and which a large majority of people – even if they’re completely new to the area – will at least have heard of, such as Stanley Park or Fraser River. This way, the exhibition is ostensibly capable of drawing an emotional response from almost anyone, whether that’s the curiosity and nostalgia of seeing a turn-of-the-century version of a place one knows very well, or whether that’s a piqued interest in a place one has never seen before. For at least some of the photographs, I hope we can all enjoy the intrigue of noticing how much has changed in the last 100 years, and perhaps even more so, how much has not.

– Ashlynn Prasad, Exhibition Curator and MAS/MLIS Candidate at the University of British Columbia

 

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