Show and Tell: Selections from our Personal Archives and Libraries
How we remember, and what we hold dear, differs from person to person. All of us have personal archives we keep to preserve memories that are precious, that document our families, our histories and record important events. It could be a simple piece of ephemera we love and cannot part with (a ticket stub from our first concert, for example), or photographs of ancestors that offer clues to our origins, or anything we have set aside and saved for a myriad reasons. Similarly, our personal libraries hold volumes that have emotional value to us, not just for the words contained in it, but as a reflection of a time in our lives, we found them particularly relevant. This could be the first book of poetry that made us fall in love with verse, or the dog-eared copy of a classic novel that led us to our current passion for libraries and library work. This blog series explores selections from the personal libraries and archives of members of the Rare Books and Special Collections team, and perhaps other colleagues from UBC Library and beyond. We hope our stories will help you reflect on what is meaningful at this time in your, and in our, collective histories.
— Krisztina Laszlo, Archivist
Hiller Goodspeed, Circulation, Copying and Shelving Assistant
My family’s relationship with my dad’s family has always been a strained one. I know and have met many relatives, but we don’t have a relationship that has continued into my adulthood. In my early 20s, I wanted to work on this, so I connected with various uncles and cousins of mine. My “Uncle Roger” (technically a 2nd cousin) reached back and we began what is now a real friendship.
Uncle Roger is a jack of all trades…to be honest the term “renaissance man” is more fitting, even if embarrassingly so. He’s an experienced architect and lawyer, as well as the family historian. He collects books, art, posters and has lined the walls of his home with framed materials. He also has an antique printing press and darkroom in the basement of his suburban home in New York state. He’s a guy who knows things – weird things and odd facts about a wealth of different topics.
I was delighted at Roger and my burgeoning friendship because I could finally ask someone questions about my family history, in particular one I had about signet ring I inherited from my Grandfather. The inscription on the ring reads “Bona Celeritas” (translated “Good Speed”) and the symbol of a monk reading on horseback. As it turns out, the symbol was taken from Goodspeed’s Book Shop, a preeminent rare bookseller that operated in the Boston area from 1898 to 1995. I learned that familial relations to the bookseller Charles E. Goodspeed are tentative at best, but it could be assumed that we are all descendants of the Roger Goodspeed, who arrived in the Plymouth Colony in 1637.
Claire Williams, Forestry Archivist
I have always loved learning about my grandparents; hearing stories about their families and their lives. Perhaps this was partly due to a set of bedtime stories my Grandmother recorded for my sister and me to listen to while we fell asleep when we very young. I can see the audio-cassettes in my mind, translucent plastic with colorful tape, carefully labeled in my Grandma’s neat penmanship. I don’t know what happened to those cassettes, they may have burned in a house-fire my family had when I was 10. However, I do have a few treasures I’ve collected over the years. It may be my natural inclination to acquire and preserve the records of the past, and pour over the stories they contain, that led me to want to be an archivist. Here is a sample of some of my grand-parents’, great uncle’s, and great-grandparents’ records I’ve held onto.