News

Book Blogs: E. Pauline Johnson’s Legends of Vancouver

Posted on July 24, 2015 @3:46 pm by cshriver

Image of "Legends of Vancouver" registered embossing

“Legends of Vancouver” registered embossing

It’s a rainy Friday here in Vancouver, and, after the heatwave we’ve had recently, things are springing back to life! In honour of the rain and Vancouver generally being awesome, how about a Vancouver-themed book blog post?

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts that celebrate the “Book Blogs” created by students in Professor Siân Echard’s “The History of the Book” course during the spring 2015 term. For this assignment, students in the class were asked to choose an item (book or otherwise) from RBSC, research its history, and introduce it to a public audience through a blog.

This week, Katie Selbee takes a look at our first edition of E. Pauline Johnson’s Legends of Vancouver.

http://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:ENGL419/Books/Legends_of_Vancouver

Katie’s blog goes into the history of this publication, RBSC’s copies, the life of Pauline Johnson, and more. Enjoy!

 

 

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Book Blogs: Vancouver, B.C., 1890

Posted on February 28, 2017 @2:40 pm by cshriver

Image of map

“Vancouver B.C., 1890” by Elliot Pub Co.

Ready for the weekend? Great!

Ready for the fourth in a series of blog posts that celebrate the “Book Blogs” created by students in Professor Siân Echard’s “The History of the Book” course during the spring 2015 term? Of course you are!

For this assignment, students in the class were asked to choose an item (book or otherwise) from RBSC, research its history, and introduce it to a public audience through a blog.

This week, Will McDonald takes a look at a map entitled “Vancouver, B.C., 1890″ and considers the history of the map, what it highlights, and how Vancouver has changed since its creation (spoiler alert: It’s changed a lot!).

http://blogs.ubc.ca/willmcdonald/2015/04/22/vancouver-b-c-1890/

Thanks to historical illustrations and Google maps, Will is able to make some interesting comparisons between Vancouver at the end of the 19th century and today. Enjoy!

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RBSC mentioned on CBC’s Windsor Morning

Posted on February 28, 2017 @2:41 pm by cshriver

Image of Greek papyrus

Invitation to a Serapis dinner

More great press on our papyri from Roman-age Egypt! Professor Max Nelson, who earned his Ph.D. at UBC and is now an Associate Professor at the University of Windsor, was interviewed on the CBC program Windsor Morning about the papyri. Professor Nelson is currently collaborating on an article about the papyri with UBC’s own Professor C. W. (Toph) Marshall. Enjoy the interview here!

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RBSC on Global News

Posted on February 28, 2017 @2:41 pm by cshriver

Image of Greek papyrus

Invitation to a Serapis dinner

Global News watchers may have been pleasantly surprised to see our own Katherine Kalsbeek, acting head of Rare Books and Special Collections, on T.V. yesterday evening. Two pieces of papyri dating back to Roman-age Egypt about 1,800 years ago that had previously been uncatalogued have now been rediscovered by UBC scholars, and Global News was as excited about it as we are! The papyri scraps consist of a reminder for a dinner invitation and a letter from a young man to his mother; both are written in Greek. You can read more about the rediscovery of these great pieces in the RBSC collection and watch the coverage on Global News.

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Book Blogs: Chinatown Tours

Posted on June 19, 2015 @4:53 pm by cshriver

Chinatown Tours

Chinatown Tours

Happy Friday! Time for the third in a series of blog posts that celebrate the “Book Blogs” created by students in Professor Siân Echard’s “The History of the Book” course during the spring 2015 term. For this assignment, students in the class were asked to choose an item (book or otherwise) from RBSC, research its history, and introduce it to a public audience through a blog.

This week, Jane Shi takes a look at a booklet produced in 1955 by the Pender Y.W.C.A. in cooperation with Chinese Merchants of Vancouver: Chinatown Tours.

http://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:ENGL419/Books/Chinatown_Tours

Enjoy Jane’s thorough analysis of this deceptively simple little pamphlet.

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RBSC remembers Leonard Guy McCann

Posted on June 19, 2015 @2:06 pm by cshriver

Leonard Guy McCann (1927-2015)

Leonard Guy McCann (1927-2015)

This past spring, Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library lost a dear friend, and Vancouver’s museum, historical, and archival communities lost a leader. Leonard Guy McCann, who was curator of the Vancouver Maritime Museum for 45 years, and a contributor to our own collections, passed away in late March at the age of 88. We would like to share Stephen Hume’s lovely farewell in the Vancouver Sun in celebration of Len’s life and legacy.

 

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Book Blogs: 15th-Century Gradual

Posted on February 28, 2017 @2:41 pm by cshriver

Image of Italian 15th Century Gradual

Italian 15th Century Gradual

It’s Friday afternoon…time for the second in a series of blog posts that celebrate the “Book Blogs” created by students in Professor Siân Echard’s “The History of the Book” course during the spring term. For this assignment, students in the class were asked to choose an item (book or otherwise) from RBSC, research its history, and introduce it to a public audience through a blog.

This week, Tessa Cernik explores fragments from a 15th-century Italian gradual.

http://blogs.ubc.ca/italiangradualleaves/

Sing along if you know the words!

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New exhibition: Settling the Language

Posted on June 5, 2015 @8:43 am by cshriver

Settling the Language exhibition poster

We’re very excited to welcome a new exhibition to Rare Books and Special Collections!

The exhibit, Settling the Language: Dictionaries and Language Change, 1490 to Today, is being mounted in support of the Dictionary Society of North America and Studies in the History of English Language conferences being held at UBC from June 5 to 7. The exhibition, curated by Grant Hurley, an MAS/MLIS student at SLAIS, will run until August 15.

Featuring items from the H. Rocke Robertson Collection of Dictionaries and other materials at RBSC, the exhibit celebrates the many forms of dictionaries. It includes 32 items, from early Latin and polyglot dictionaries, to the vital materials for Indigenous language revitalization, which all work in curious and contradictory ways to both fix, or settle a language. Brought together by the immense work of H. Rocke Robertson and other donors to RBSC’s collections, we hope you will enjoy the complicated and fascinating tales these texts tell us about our languages, identities, and linguistic ancestors. You can download the exhibition catalogue here.

You can visit the exhibition, which is free and open to the public, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rare Books and Special Collections on the first floor of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at 604 822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

 

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Book Blogs: The Family Dictionary

Posted on February 28, 2017 @2:42 pm by cshriver

This past spring term, Rare Books and Special Collections hosted more classes than we have ever before! We welcomed classes from a wide variety of disciplines, including English; history; medieval studies; archival studies; art history; geography; French; gender, race, sexuality and social justice; and Asian studies. In addition to hosting single-session class visits, a few classes met regularly at RBSC, including Professor Greg Mackie’s “Fraudulent Texts: Literary Forgeries and Creative Deceptions” and Professor Siân Echard’s “The History of the Book.” We love hosting classes, as it allows us to introduce that many more students to our amazing collections. And it’s wonderful to see the interesting materials, some of which are new even to us, that professors select for the classes. But 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!

Image of William Salmon’s The Family Dictionary

William Salmon’s The Family Dictionary

One of the assignments for Professor Echard’s course, “The History of the Book,” was a “Book Blog.” Students were asked to choose an item (book or otherwise) from RBSC, research its history, and introduce it to a public audience through a blog. We have thirteen of these student blog projects to share with you over the next several weeks. We hope you enjoy them and will perhaps be inspired to stop by RBSC to see one of the objects for yourself!

First up: Elysse Bell’s blog about William Salmon’s The Family Dictionary

http://blogs.ubc.ca/ahistoryofabook/

Maybe you’ll try your hand at “Salmon Frigassed” this weekend. Don’t forget the sippets!

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The Changing Written Word

Posted on May 22, 2015 @10:22 am by cshriver

In honour of our new exhibition, Papal Parchments and Blackletter Books, here’s a lesson on the history of the written word and why the text you’re reading now looks the way it does. Thanks so much to the exhibition’s curator, Robert Makinson, for this fascinating look back.

The Changing Written Word

The alphabet used by Western European languages today, including English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and many others, is usually called the Latin alphabet or the Roman alphabet because it was first used by the ancient Romans to write their language, Latin. But although the letter forms may look familiar, they wrote their books very differently, so differently that they are nearly unintelligible to modern readers:

Image of Roman alphabet

Rome, BAV, Vat. lat. 3256, fol. 3v

This image, taken from a reproduction of a Latin copy of Vergil from the fourth century, was produced during the later Roman Empire. While we can make out individual letter forms, such as the first seven letters spelling out the Latin word INFELIX (“unfortunate”), the text is very difficult to parse and read; this is because there are no spaces between words, no punctuation, and the letters are all majuscule, like our modern uppercase alphabet.

Four hundred years later, books would look very different. During the time of Charlemagne (c. 748-814), the emperor of the Franks (ancestors of the French), a new script was developed that was specifically designed for easy reading. Called Carolingian minuscule or Caroline minuscule—minuscule letters look like today’s lowercase alphabet—it allowed manuscripts to be produced with much fewer errors and eliminated much misunderstanding among readers.

Image of Carolingian minuscule

St. Gall, SB, CSG 201, p.48

Many familiar features are starting to appear: there are spaces between words and some punctuation is present. But most importantly, distinctions are made between majuscule letters, found in titles and at the beginning of sentences and phrases, and the minuscule letters present everywhere else. These minuscule forms are very similar to the forms used by most modern fonts, and Caroline minuscule would dominate European books for nearly four hundred years, even inspiring the script used by the papacy for its official documents like papal bulls. After 1150, however, Caroline minuscule was gradually supplanted by a more compact, angular script called textualis, better known today by the misnomer “Gothic.”

Image of Compendium Theologicae Veritatis

Hugh Ripelin, Compendium Theologicae Veritatis, p.24

Eventually, Caroline minuscule was revived by the Italian Humanists in the fifteenth century, who wrongly believed that it was the script used by the ancient Romans. This adapted version of Caroline minuscule, which came to be known as Humanistic minuscule, in turn inspired many of the typefaces used by early printers. The very modern- and familiar-looking typeface below is representative of many books printed during this early period.

Image of Elegantiae Linguae Latinae

Lorenzo Valla, Elegantiae Linguae Latinae, Venice: Rubes, 1476

These typefaces, though they were subject to changing tastes over the centuries, became the basis for the fonts that we use today. The way we read and write, then, descends directly from the innovations adopted and adapted during the Middle Ages, especially the time of Charlemagne.

To see some of these documents in person, please join us for the exhibition Papal Parchments and Blackletter Books: How the Middle Ages Shaped the Way We Read, 1245 AD to UBC, which runs from May 1-31, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rare Books and Special Collections on the first floor of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. For more information, please contact Rare Books and Special Collections at 604 822-2521 or rare.books@ubc.ca.

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