A glimpse into the evolution of UBC degree parchments

Posted on behalf of the Student Records Management team in SRSM

Did you know the graduation office keeps the degree parchments of all graduates who do not claim them?

We have thousands of unclaimed degree parchments including some going back over 80 years. The earliest degree parchment we have is actually not a degree, but a certificate, that dates back to 1939, which was printed on paper.

For many years, including the samples here from 1951 and 1968, certificates were printed on a plant-based vellum.  It is hard to tell from the scans, but the vellum degree parchments are slightly translucent.  In addition to the different materials used, degree parchments up until the early 1990s were smaller than they are today.

1939 Certificate

  • Number of graduates: 456 in 7 degrees
  • Material: Paper
  • Dimensions: 11″ x 8.5″

1951 Certificate

  • Number of graduates: 1663 in 18 degrees
  • Material: Vellum
  • Dimensions: 9.5″ x 7.5″

1968 Certificate

  • Number of graduates: 3637 in 33 degrees
  • Material: Vellum
  • Dimensions: 9.5″ x 7.5″

1978 Certificate

  • Number of graduates: 4672 in 42 degrees
  • Material: Paper
  • Dimensions: 9.5″ x 7.5″

1992 Degree

  • Number of graduates: 7037 in 48 degrees
  • Material: Paper
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 7.5″

  • Number of graduates: 6761 in 51 degrees
  • Material: Paper
  • Dimensions: 11″  x 8.5″

Today’s degree parchment is very similar to the 1995 sample, except the type of paper used has changed over the years.  Today we are using Accent Opaque Vellum Cover 80lb.  Here, vellum  describes the texture of the paper, which loosely mimics that of traditional vellum.

In 2020 there were 14323 graduates 124 degrees across UBC Vancouver and Okanagan.

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