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Improved search function

The helpful folks in our Systems department at UBC Library have made a significant upgrade to the search functionality of the Chung Collection website: you can now choose to search only for items which have an online version currently available. This is a great option for those who are using the collection from away and are unable to come and see the items in person (or who prefer to do research at home in their pyjamas).

From the Quick Search box on the home page, the Search page or the Advanced Search page just choose “Online” in the new “Availability” box. The database will then retrieve records for items with an online version when you perform your search. To see the online version, click on the thumbnail view which appears in the record for each item.

“Lost and Found” at the Japanese Canadian National Museum

The Japanese Canadian National Museum has opened an exhibition of photographs called “Lost and Found.” They hope that visitors to the exhibition will recognize people or landmarks in the photographs and contribute this knowledge by leaving a note on pages posted for this purpose beside the photographs.  To learn more about the exhibition and for location and hours, click here.

This is a challenge in many archival and museum collections, and the Chung Collection is no exception- for example, try searching for portraits of Chinese men or women and you’ll see that we lack identifying information for many of them. If you recognize someone or have other information to share, you can always leave a comment in the Digital Collection version of the photograph. To get to the full digital version, click on the thumbnail view.

Photographic archives training at Rare Books and Special Collections

In January we were visited twice by students in ARST 550: Management of audio-visual and non-textual archives from the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies. This class focuses on the management of a variety of types of material, but they came to Rare Books and Special Collections particularly to work with photographic archives. RBSC […]



Digitization and translation funding announced for collection at UVic

Congratulations to our colleagues at the University of Victoria Archives-  a gift of $26,000 from the Victoria Foundation has been announced to digitize and translate the archives of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association.  Since many of the documents in this archival collection are in traditional Chinese script, this funding will make the material more accesible to scholars and students who cannot read the script.

You can read more about the funding announcement here ; you can read more about the collection here.

Coordinated Arts Program visit to the Chung Collection

In January, the Rare Books and Special Collections and the Chung Collection hosted almost 100 first year undergraduate students from the Coordinated Arts Program. Students in CAP choose one of four themes and take core classes tailored to that theme.

Students from the Law and Society theme are studying early immigration, racism and community in early Vancouver, and came for two sessions: a tour of the Chung Collection exhibition space, and a session to talk about doing research in an archival environment. They will be using documents and artifacts from the Chung Collection for their research project this semester.

Students from the Individual and Society theme read Joy Kogawa’s novel Obasan so they came primarily to see the archives of Joy Kogawa, which are held in Rare Books and Special Collections. They also viewed documents from the Japanese Canadian Research Collection and a sign from an internment camp for Japanese-Canadians during World War II.

UBC faculty members who would like to bring their students to see the Chung Collection are encouraged to contact the Rare Books and Special Collections Archivist at It is a great opportunity to introduce students to using archival material for their research.

Thanks to Greg Mackie and Kathryn Grafton from the Coordinated Arts Program for coordinating these visits!

Gung hay fat choy!

Happy Chinese New Year! By way of celebration, we’re going to try to make our way through the Chinese zodiac using photographs from the Chung Collection. (Now updated to include ox and tiger!)

Since this is the year of the Rabbit, we’ll start there. This photograph is from an album of photos taken by a Chinese-American teenager between 1915 and 1918 named Jue Fong, or Frank Jue.  Aside from rabbits and other furry friends, this album is a wonderful source of images showing everyday life for Chinese-American teens in the early 20th century.  Frank and his friends were very theatrical and humorous, which comes across in the photographs and their captions.

This dragon sculpture we believe was exhibited at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver in the 1970’s. If you know more about this sculpture, please tell us about it at !





An image of a snake charmer was found in an album from the world cruise on the C.P.R. steamer Empress of Britain in 1930. Ports of call on this cruise included Spain, Italy, Egypt, India, Singapore, Thailand, Bali, Hong Kong, China, and Hawaii. This snake charmer may have been in Singapore.


This horse and wagon scene is found in the Clandonald material in the Chung Collection.  While the Chung Collection is possibly best known for its Chinese Canadian content, we also hold a valuable archive of material related to a Scottish colony in Alberta called Clandonald, one of many settled by the C.P.R. colonization department.

Another world traveler brought us this sheep photograph. It was taken in New Zealand by Ken Seaton’s on a world cruise aboard the Empress of Britain ca. 1930.






This photograph of a monkey (or possibly a baboon?) being led on a leash was taken in Indonesia. Another world cruise album, this one was taken by Franklin and Jane Sykes between 1927 and 1928 on the Empress of Australia.



The closest that can be found in the Chung Collection to a rooster is a chicken. This image, titled “A chicken in one hand…” by the photographer depicts a Chinese woman in San Francisco’s Chinatown holding a chicken in one hand, and probably her grandson in the other.  This is one of many images we have in the Chung Collection showing San Francisco’s Chinatown, and dates from around 1900.


This stunning photo of a forest on Vancouver Island depicts a man with his dog and is from an album of photographs depicting the Victoria, Esquimalt and Saanich area. This album is a bit of a mystery- we have dated it to around 1910 but the photographer and original owner are both unknown.

The only pigs to be found in Chung Collection photographs unfortunately have met their end- this photograph of street vendors in Hong Kong with roast pigs is the front of a postcard, sold as souvenirs on the Canadian Pacific cruise ships.  

As for rats, we could not find any in the Chung Collection. Depending on your opinion of rats, this might be a good thing!

This photograph of oxen pushing a waterwheel in Mumbai is from an album of photographs from the Empress of Australia and Empress of Britain world tours, which we believe was assembled by a crew member who worked on these ships. Documents related to the experience of CPR crew members can bring an interesting perspective, different from that of travelers.

While we could not locate any photos of tigers per se, this photograph of traveler Kitty David was taken at Tiger Hill in Suzhou, still a popular tourist destination. You can see the Yunyan Pagoda in the background.  We have three photograph albums of Kitty David’s travels through China, this one from her 1932 tour through China . We do not know much about her, but she seems to have travelled with a partner or a guide since many of the photographs have her in them. Some of the photographs depict destruction from the Sino-Japanese War.

We hope you enjoyed this tour through the Chinese zodiac- it certainly shows how diverse material in the Chung Collection is. Gung hay fat choy!

The photographs used in this post can be found by searching for the following identifers:

Rabbit: CC-PH-00907

Dragon: CC-PH-00242

Snake: CC-PH-05131

Horse: CC-PH-02191

Sheep: CC-PH-02367

Monkey: CC-PH-04901

Rooster: CC-PH-02010

Dog: CC-PH-06418

Pig: CC-PH-03619

Ox: CC-PH-03529

Tiger: CC-PH-00544