Fans of British Columbia folk music, rejoice: more than 7,000 items from the Philip J. Thomas Collection are now catalogued and ready for use. Thomas, who was born in Victoria in 1921 and died in 2007, co-founded the group that became the Vancouver Folk Song Society.


The collection, held by UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections division, consists mainly of books and sheet music. It taps into many aspects of Western popular culture through the centuries. Songs are predominantly in English, but French, Gaelic, German and other groups are also represented. The collection contains a wealth of material useful in the analysis of popular song in society – meaning that the songs are “of the people” rather than the elite. Nor are they solely commercial products.


Such songs include a vast array of styles, including ballads, lullabies, nursery rhymes, work songs, sea shanties, hymns, spirituals, national and ethnic songs, soldier songs, bawdy songs, topical songs, political and protest songs, blues and much more.


For more information, go to the catalogue page at and type “Philip J. Thomas Popular Song Collection” as an author search. Also, feel free to visit Rare Books and Special Collections on level one of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, or call 604-822-9587.         


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