UBC Historical Resources

The UBC Archives (https://archives.library.ubc.ca/) has made many historical resources available online, including the following:

Digitized Materials:
University History:
Other resources:
Some of the materials listed by Archives are included in the entries below.

 

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Principal UBC Publications  |  UBC histories, autobiographies, and biographies  |  Early history of the University from faculty & staff  |  UBC history presented by UBC Archives  |  Other resources compiled by the Legacy Project


 

The University Archives hosts digital versions of the principal UBC publications. Please see the following links:

  • UBC Reports, 1955—

    The official news publication of UBC: arts & humanities, business, law and society, science, health & technology, and university news. Also contains announcements on new professors and courses.

  • UBC Calendars, 1909-2008

    Annual publications for students containing important information such as application deadlines, academic year outline, student parking, services & facilities, applicant types/student classifications, course descriptions, enrolment statistics, and admission procedures.

  • The Ubyssey, 1918—

    <center>Scene from "Major Barbara" performed by Players Club in March 1954. <br /> Photo credit: <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0030739" target="_blank" rel="noopener">UBC Archives</a>.</center>

    Scene from “Major Barbara” performed by Players Club in March 1954.
    Photo credit: UBC Archives

    UBC’s official and independently student-run newspaper. New issues every week. For students, by students.

  • The Graduate Chronicle, 1931-1948

    A publication dedicated to maintaining connections among alumni/alumnae as well as their relationship with UBC.

  • The UBC Alumni Chronicle, 1948-2000

    A renaming of the above publication.

  • Trek, 2001—

    A renaming of the above publication. Now a quarterly-published magazine, with the addition of materials that include the community outside UBC.

 

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Other online works of UBC history including biographies and autobiographies.

  • The 'Old Sweats', the first UBC Law Class, 1945. UBC Archives

    The ‘Old Sweats’, the first UBC Law Class, 1945.
    Photo credit: UBC Archives

    UBC Archives Video & Film Collection

    Follow the UBC Library Digital Collections in their initiative to selectively digitize the the University Archives holdings (containing some 8,000 video recordings and 150 films). Tour significant events through silent films such as the opening ceremony of the Haida Section at Totem Park and Princess Margaret’s visit to UBC in 1958.

  • Tuum Est: A History of the University of British Columbia by Harry T. Logan (1958)

  • This very detailed and informative history of UBC covers the period from 1872, when the idea of a BC university was first suggested, to 1958, the year of the book’s publication. Its author, Harry Logan, joined UBC as an instructor in 1915 and rose to become Head of the Classics Department and a member of the Board of Governors.  For a review of UBC history that extends to 2009, see UBC: The First 100 Years by Eric Damer and Herbert Rosengarten (Vancouver: The University of British Columbia, 2009).
  • UBC Archives Audio Recordings Collection

    Recordings of speeches and interviews by UBC alumni/alumnae and faculty members. Listen to a variety of files such as the Memorial Service for Walter Gage, interviews with Helen McCrae (former Dean of Women at UBC and advocate for women’s education), and Arthur Laing (former leader of the BC Liberal Party).

  • A Brief History of UBC Continuing Studies (1936—    )

    A brief history of continuing education at UBC, as well as a list of key milestones.

  • Transformations: A History of UBC Continuing Studies (PDF)

    This 2012 book by Dr. Scott McLean and Dr. Eric Damer chronicles 75 years of the history of UBC Continuing Studies, and highlights the impact and influence of adult learning at UBC as well as across British Columbia.

  • UBC Student Yearbook Collection

    Approximately 1,750 images drawn from the 49 volumes of student yearbooks The Annual and The Totem (1916-1966). Browse photographs and write-ups on student clubs (such as The Livestock Club, Players Club, and Returned Soldier Students’ Club), fraternities, sororities, sports teams (such as ice hockey, rowing, grass hockey), and faculties (Forestry, Law, Commerce, etc).

    The collection includes photographs from the first university-wide yearbooks before the advent of faculty-specific yearbooks.

70th anniversary of the Faculty Women’s Club, 1987.
Photo credit: UBC Archives

  • History of The Faculty of Land and Food Systems (LFS)

    One of the three founding faculties at UBC. Formerly known as the Faculty of Agriculture, then the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, LFS has a rich history extending back to 1914. Explore how the first four departments (Agronomy, Animal Husbandry, Horticulture, and Poultry Husbandry) have changed. Written by Dr. Robert Blair, Professor Emeritus (Applied Animal Biology) and edited by E. Perriccioli.

  • History of the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm 

    Approximately 200 acres, or 80.9371 hectares, of farmland was allocated for agronomy, horticulture, and animal husbandry in the University’s original plans. These farm facilities were central to studies in the Bachelor of Science degree and two-year practical diplomas. In the 1930s two new facilities were introduced: a poultry plant and a creamery. Read on in the link above for more information on the history of the UBC Farm.

  • Fifty Years of Geography at UBC

    Check out two posters by cartographer Eric Leinberger depicting a visual narrative of the Department of Geography. Learn the origins of this department which began in 1915 and see how substantially enrolment has grown since then.

  • History and Achievements of the UBC Faculty Women’s Club (FWC), 1917-2004

    At the request of both UBC’s first president, Dr. F. F. Wesbrook, and the Board of Governors, this club was initially founded to direct boarding homes for women students. Two achievements out of many completed by the club: it established loan assistance to women students during the Depression, and it participated in relief efforts for the Red Cross during World War II.

  • Interview with Dr. Errol Durbach (transcript)

    An interview with the former Department Head of Theatre and Film at UBC, Dr. Errol Durbach, by Gillian Lockitch. Durbach formerly taught theatre in the English Department as a sub-genre (“Dramatic Literature”). Learn how his teaching methods transformed from the theoretical to the art of performance.

     

    <center>Composite photograph of Ethel Johns and first ten students enrolled in UBC Nursing degree program in 1921.<br>Photo credit: <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0163629" target="_blank">UBC Archives</a>

    Composite photograph of Ethel Johns and first ten students enrolled in UBC Nursing degree program in 1921.
    Photo credit: UBC Archives

  • UBC Professors Emeriti Oral History Project

    A useful compilation of recollections of student days and department changes.

  • The English Department, 1915-2000

    A detailed overview beginning in 1915 of this department offering courses required of all students (from Arts to Mining Engineering). Developing beyond the traditional field of English studies, the Department oversaw the introduction of creative writing, theatre practice, and Canadian literature courses. Written by Dr. Herbert Rosengarten.

    Much of the Department’s history is contained in the documents stored, arranged, and described by the University Archives at http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/u_arch/english.pdf.

    For more writings on the UBC English Department:

    1. ‘A Vet Returns: English at UBC in the 1940s’ by Jan de Bruyn
    2. Akrigg, G.P.V. Sedgewick: The Man and His Achievement (Being the Eleventh Garnett Sedgewick Memorial Lecture Delivered on March 18th, 1980 in the Frederic Wood Theatre at the University of British Columbia). Vancouver, BC: UBC Department of English, 1980. [UBC LIBRARY HOLDINGS INFORMATION]
    3. Djwa, Sandra. Professing English: A Life of Roy Daniells. Toronto, ON: U of T Press, 2002. [UBC LIBRARY HOLDINGS INFORMATION]
    4. Djwa, Sandra. Professing English at UBC: The Legacy of Roy Daniells and Garnett Sedgewick (The 1999 Garnett Sedgewick Memorial Lecture). Vancouver, BC: Ronsdale, 2000. [UBC LIBRARY HOLDINGS INFORMATION]
    5. Fee, Margery. “Puck’s Green England and the Professor of English: Post-Colonial Fantasies at the University of British Columbia.” University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 64, no. 3 (1995): 398-416. [CLICK HERE TO VIEW THIS ARTICLE]
    6. Sedgewick, G.G. “The Unity of the Humanities.” Dalhousie Review, vol. 8, no. 3 (1928): 357-367. [CLICK HERE TO VIEW THIS ARTICLE]
  • History of the School of Kinesiology

    Read about the history of this School (now under the Faculty of Education) from its early beginnings as a voluntary and compulsory physical activity program to its current expanded study of the connection between physical activity and health, society, and quality of life.

  • The Way We Were: A Celebration of Our UBC Heritage (PDF)

    A book published in 1987 by the UBC Alumni Association. A compilation of essays, histories, and anecdotes offering snapshots of the history of UBC and its people. Includes entries such as “The First Gymnasium” by J. Ross Tommie, “The Ubyssey Was My School of Journalism” by Peter Shinobu Higashi, and “The Players’ Club: Reflections from the Green Room” by Dorothy Somerset (after whom the Dorothy Somerset Studio Theatre, 6361 University Boulevard, is named).

  • Cornelia Oberlander Oral History

    Eleven videos in total: Oral autobiography of renowned Canadian landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander. She contributed to the designs of many buildings in North America: Robson Square, The Museum of Anthropology at UBC, and the Green Roof at the Vancouver Public Library (central branch).

  • Margaret A. Ormsby Oral History Project fonds

    41 interviews with 38 colleagues, family, students, and friends of Margaret Ormsby, former Head of the UBC History Department. Learn of her contribution to British Columbia as both an educator and scholar.

Alumni Association presentation of totem poles to UBC.<br>Photo credit: <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0019521" target="_blank">UBC Archives</a></center>

Alumni Association presentation of totem poles to UBC, 1927.
Photo credit: UBC Archives

Written by Maurizio Dattilo and Judith Saltman, this 44-page book chronicles the history of the UBC School of Library, Archival & Information Studies (SLAIS). Founded by Neal Harlow as the School of Librarianship in 1961, this professional school responded to a need for professional librarians in Canada. SLAIS celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2001 with the launch of this book.

These slides are a presentation of UBC Archives prepared by the UBC Library. The slides begin with McGill University College British Columbia and BC’s desire for a provincial university. Discover Sharp and Thompson’s original design of the campus, with UBC’s first president Frank F. Wesbrook reviewing. Find out how the UBC Point Grey Campus came to be, in spite of financial hardships!

A 38-page book of text and photographs detailing the creation and early years of UBC. It all began with John Jessop’s proposal for a British Columbian university in 1877.

  • Obituaries of UBC people 

        The University Senate pays tribute to deceased former members of the Senate in brief obituaries      that are presented at Senate and recorded in the minutes. These obituaries are gathered together at https://archives.library.ubc.ca/lists/senate-memorial-tributes/.

 

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Below are links to interviews with UBC faculty and staff, many concerned with the early history of the University.

  • UBC Legacy Video Collection

    Enjoy the reminiscences of over 140 people–staff, alumni/alumnae, and faculty–affiliated with UBC over long periods of time.

    <center>Faculty of Medicine Lecture, date unknown.<br>Photo credit: <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0136742" target="_blank">UBC Archives</a></center>

    Faculty of Medicine Lecture, date unknown.
    Photo credit: UBC Archives

  • Allard School of Law History Project, UBC

    An interactive historical archive. Search the project for information on former faculty, alumni/alumnae, and people who have contributed to British Columbia’s legal history. Listen to the memories of many faculty and graduates and learn about their symbiotic relationship with BC/UBC and the legal profession. Find a list of interviews here.

  • UBC Faculty of Medicine MSAC (Medical Student and Alumni Centre) History

    Brief historical overview of this building and its expansion since 1983. Houses the Heritage Time Capsules wall, with a drawer for each graduating class.

    Chemistry lab in 1975.
    Photo credit: UBC Archives

  • UBC Faculty of Medicine Oral History

    “A collection of taped interviews (1984-1986) with individuals involved in the early history of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia.” The interviews are on cassette tapes and have been transcribed. They are housed in the Memorial Room of the Woodward Library; the transcriptions may be read online here.

  • The Faculty Women’s Club Oral History Project

    Contains 7 audio tapes from 1988-89 of interviews conducted by Ann Carroll with seven members of the Faculty Women’s Association: Bea Wood, Violet Eagles, Alex (Alexandra) Hrennikoff, Marjorie Peebles, Maebritt Jeffels, Helen B. Akrigg, and Jo Robinson.

    Click on the “Listen to Recording” links within.

  •  The UBC Players’ Club: The Early History

    An audio recording made at the home of Jack and Betty Clyne in 1984. A group of Players’ Club alumni and alumnae talk about the history of the club from 1916 to 1926.

  • The Alumni Achievement Award Past Recipients

    From the UBC Alumni Association comes this list of past recipients for various awards, such as the Lifetime Achievement Award, Honorary Alumni Award, Volunteer Leadership Award, Global Citizenship Award, and Young Alumni Award.

  • UBC Psychology at Fifty (PDF)

    In 2014 the Psychology Department turned fifty, and this book documents its formation and subsequent growth. It is separated into four parts: timeline of milestones; individual essays by Psychology Heads; memoirs from students, faculty, and staff; and an appendix with a record of doctoral-degree recipients and award winners. A physical copy is available for viewing at The Legacy Project.

  • Neil Bartlett and the Reactive Noble Gases

    In March of 1962 Neil Bartlett, Professor of Chemistry, made a discovery that required all existing textbooks to be rewritten. Who knew that combining xenon and platinum hexafluoride would have such an impact? Visit the American Chemical Society’s page dedicated to this historic event, including a commemorative booklet written by Mark T. Sampson. There is a large display of documents dedicated to Bartlett on the third floor of the Chemistry Building (2036 Main Mall).

 

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UBC History Online
Various links to the UBC Archives pages with digital versions of UBC histories.

<center>Basic Medical Sciences lab, 1970s.</center>Photo credit: <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0155506" target="_blank">UBC Archives</a>

Basic Medical Sciences lab, 1970s.
Photo credit: UBC Archives

  • Senate Memorial Tributes: Senate Tributes Committee — Memorial Minutes

    Brief biographies of deceased UBC faculty members who served on the UBC Senate.

  • General history, in particular the origins and early history of UBC

    Essays, PDFs, and virtual displays that include overviews of The Great Trek (October 28th, 1922), student enrollment figures (1915-present), Frequently Asked Questions, Record of Service in the Second World War, and much more!

  • Historical Documents

    A list of PDF documents pertaining to the initial formation of the University. Includes paramount files such as the 1908 University Act, early planning & construction documents, Senate Minutes, and scrapbooks containing university-related matters from Vancouver newspapers.

  • History of the physical evolution of the UBC campus at Point Grey

    A compilation of links relevant to the landscaping, public spaces, campus layout planning, and infrastructure of the university. Some interesting articles include “Campus Trees — A Self-Guided Tour”, “Main Library Architectural Drawings”, “UBC Campus Structures”, and “Leon & Thea Koerner University Centre (virtual display)”.

  • Some Faculty and Department Histories

    Your portal to the histories of some of the university’s academic programmes. A sample: Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies / Forestry / Music / Science / Sauder School of Business (formerly known as Commerce) / Applied Science.

  • Heraldry, Congregation, and Graduation, including UBC yearbooks 1915-1966

    Information on the university’s symbols. Ever wondered what’s inside our logo (also known as the coat of arms)? Or the University Mace wielded by the Chancellor? Why are blue & gold the university colours? See this page for links to the 1925 Directory of the Alumni, UBC Yearbooks (1915 to 1966), and Congregation Programs from ceremonies & events (1916 to present and both Vancouver & Okanagan).

Point Grey campus, 1926.
Photo credit: UBC Archives

 

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Compilations of other resources concerning UBC (currently in progress—stay tuned for bibliographies!)

 

Please note: Access to archived articles from The New York Times is only available to subscribers (i.e. individuals or institutions). UBC users can use their Campus Wide Login (CWL) credentials to login and connect to the ProQuest database containing New York Times publications. For more information on connecting to UBC Library Resources while off-campus, please see this page. Alternatively, your local public library may have a subscription to The New York Times. For example, you can access The New York Times, and subsequently their archives, TimesMachine, through the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) by logging in with your library card number and PIN.

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Last updated: February 26th 2019