University Ancestors: The University of British Columbia Handbook

We tend to look at marriages, occupations, and other details of our ancestors\’ adult lives. The years between birth and marriage don\’t always get the attention they deserve. School yearbooks and handbooks are a fun resource for family history research. They give an insight into a part of your ancestor\’s life that is often glossed over. 

If you\’re ancestor attended the University of British Columbia from the 1920\’s and later, then check out the collection of UBC Handbooks digitized on the UBC Library website. These were published once a year, usually in December, and given to students. The UBC Library has various years from 1921 to 2019.

It is quite user friendly to use. Just scroll to the year you want (left click and hold to move the time line across. Underneath is a calendar and just click on the blue box showing the issue date.

Once you click on a publication, it will go to the image viewer. There are lots of great options in the image viewer. You can scroll through the pages either by the arrows, or by directly clicking on a page.

The icons in the red circle allow you to view transcriptions and download the image. In the blue circle are icons to zoom in and out, rotate the image, and go full screen. You can also zoom in and out using the icons in the black circle.

So what can you find? These handbooks covered all aspects of life at the campus. Here\’s a bylaw from 1927 about the university sweaters

Here\’s the members of the Student\’s Council in 1932

Here\’s some of the track and field record holders for the University as of the 1945 issue

Here\’s a list of some of the many clubs and societies in 1954. Some have a contact person listed

Publications like these rely on ad revenue from nearby businesses. Here\’s a page of ads from 1966

Unlike yearbooks, these handbooks don\’t have a lot of pictures, but there are a few. Here\’s some of the Student Council members from 1951

If you can\’t find your ancestor\’s name among the handbooks, don\’t be disappointed. These handbooks are still a great resource. They will give you a window into everyday academic life of your ancestor. Remember, family history research is more than just collecting names and dates.

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