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Women's History at RBSC

A guide to women's archival materials at UBC's Rare Books and Special Collections

About These Collections

The fonds and collections included here are large in size and scope, i.e., they are not necessarily by or dedicated to women, but contain rich materials (documents, photographs, recordings, etc.) relevant to women’s history.

Archival Collections

Born in Fairmont, West Virginia in 1926, Art Finley was active in the radio television broadcasting industry for fifty years (1944-1994) prior to his retirement in Victoria, B.C. The fonds consists of audio cassettes of interviews with a variety of personalities from the fields of entertainment, politics, medicine, and more. They were initially recorded on radio talk show programmes at KSFO San Francisco, CKNW Vancouver, KGO San Francisco, CJOR Vancouver, WNIS Norfolk, XRA San Diego, and KCBS San Francisco. Prominent women interviewees include: Joan Baez, Yoko Ono, Margaret Mead, Anne Murray, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Lily Tomlin, and Shirley Temple.

The B.C. Historical Photograph collection consists of photographs collected by UBC's RBSC division throughout its operation. Subjects predominantly include B.C. people, places, and events as well as photos taken throughout the Pacific Northwest, across Canada, and, in some cases, internationally. Within this collection are many photos depicting women.

The B.C. Historical Postcard and Photograph Albums collection consists of ninety-one albums of roughly 9,000 postcards and photographs pertaining to views and scenes mainly in B.C., but also in the rest of Canada and Europe. Individuals gathered and created the materials on a wide variety of historic subjects during their travels, many of which include images of women.

The Georgia Straight was founded in Vancouver, B.C. in 1967 as an underground press to explore issues not examined in mainstream newspapers, such as sexual freedom, police brutality, and the youth culture of the 1960s and early 1970s. The newspaper ceased publication in 1979 but was revived in 1981 in a different format. The fonds consists of photographs and negatives from the Georgia Straight newspaper photograph files, depicting demonstrations, conflicts, picnics, concerts, musicians, celebrities, and other events and individuals between 1960 and 1979. Materials relating to women include photos of: feminist pro-choice demonstrations; mothers, children, and families; and female portraits.

Formed under the auspices of the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association, the Japanese Canadian History Preservation Committee sponsored an oral history project in 1985. The project was undertaken in order to more fully understand and chronicle the early experiences of Japanese Canadians. The fonds consists of 134 cassette tapes of 91 interviews with Japanese Canadians and two bound volumes containing an index of individuals interviewed, data sheets, and consent forms for use of the material. Of the interviewees, many are women.

This collection consists of approximately fifty small collections donated by various individuals and organizations. The collection encompasses a wide range of topics including relocation to internment camps during WWII, farming, lumbering, religious activities, and personal reminiscences, as well as various organizational records. Within these smaller collections can be found the records of Japanese Canadian women, such as the 1943 Annual Report of the United Church of Canada Women's Auxilliary, written in Japanese, and Michiko Midge Ayukawa’s 1990 M.A. Thesis, entitled “Bearing the Unbearable: the Memoir of a Japanese Pioneer Woman.”

The Tremaine Arkley Croquet Collection contains over 2,400 paintings, illustrations, engravings, advertisements, photographs and other ephemera depicting the game of croquet throughout the years. The images range from fine art to cartoons and everything in between, and show the rise in the game’s popularity in England and America in the 19th and 20th centuries. Many items in the collection show gender roles, as croquet was one of the first games that men and women played together.

[postcard depicting four women posing with croquet equipment]

Image source: Tremaine Arkley Croquet Collection, UBC Open Collections

Unknown. (1909). [Postcard depicting four women posing with croquet equipment] [P]. doi: (Original work published 1909)

The UBC Archives Photograph Collection contains over 40,000 photos held by the UBC Archives dating from the founding of the university to present day. They present a visual record of UBC's growth and development, the evolution of student life, and campus events over most of the past century. 

[two female students play boxing at Fairview]

Image source: UBC Archives Photograph Collection, UBC Open Collections

[Unknown]. (1922). Unidentified female students at Fairview [P]. doi:

The Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs, donated by Uno and Dianne Langmann and Uno Langmann Limited, consists of more than 18,000 rare and unique early photographs from the 1850s to the 1970s. It is considered a premiere private collection of early provincial photos, and an important illustrated history of early photographic methods. The photographs were taken by a wide range of photographers. Some well-known photographers represented in the collection include William Notman, Charles MacMunn, Frederick Dally, Charles Horetzky, Charles Gentile, Philip Timms, Yucho Chow, R. Maynard, and Leonard Frank. Many of the photos depict women in a variety of roles, scenarios, etc. throughout B.C. history.

three women standing along the Maligne River at Jasper Park

Image source: Uno Langmann Family Collection of British Columbia Photographs, UBC Open Collections 

Thompson, E. E. (1922). [Edith Thompson's Photo Album] [A]. doi:

The Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection contains more than 25,000 rare and unique items, including documents, books, maps, posters, paintings, photographs, tableware, and other artifacts. Donated to UBC Library in 1999, the Chung Collection represents an unique and extensive research collection of items in various formats related to early British Columbia history, immigration and settlement, particularly of Chinese people in North America, and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. One of the most exceptional and extensive collections of its kind in North America, the Chung Collection has been designated as a national treasure by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board.

[portrait of group of Chinese women]

Image source: The Chung Collection, UBC Open Collections 

Yucho Chow Studio. (1930). [Portrait of group of Chinese women] [P]. doi:

The collection consists of photography of many aspects of WWI, mainly in Europe and particularly on the battlefields of France and Belgium. Some of the subjects depicted include royalty, military commanders, European aristocracy, war technology, and—significant to women’s history—prints of Gibson Girls welding ships or carting coal in Britain. 

two women ambulance drivers in France, photographed in front of a large pile of sandbags

Image source: World War I British Press Photograph Collection, UBC Open Collections

[Unknown]. (c. 1918). Official photographs taken on the British Western Front : Sandbags instead of handbags - Lady ambulance drivers in France [P]. doi: