The first session, with Mahinder Kaur Doman Manhas, author of the new book, Zhindagee: Selected stories of our first daughters, was at turns sad, moving, funny, and heart warming. We heard readings from the book from Mahinder and also friends and relatives of women in the book. Good questions and so much to think about. One point mentioned about preserving women's history in general too was the importance of keeping journals - and preserving those already written by family. With the family's permission, excerpts from one woman's previously unpublished manuscript are included in the book. I can't wait to read all the stories in the book myself.
This is a limited edition book, and Mahinder suggests people, if they can, buy one to donate to a library or other place where more people will be able to read it. (I'm donating a copy to the BC Genealogical Society library, for example.) If you'd like to buy one, or more, you can contact the author - see the Zhindagee website - or contact her through WHN/BC firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be an Zhindagee event early in the New Year in Vancouver and probably books will be available there.
West Beyond the West: British Columbia's history, heritage and culture: westbeyondthewest.ca/search
In the second session, Ken Cooley, Associate Librarian at the University of Victoria Library, spoke about both the BC Digitization Coalition and the University Library's current projects, and Lara Wilson, University of Victoria Archivist, spoke about her Archives' digitial initiatives and about the Archives Association of British Columbia.
Although a good number of projects to digitize BC historical materials are completed or underway, these are mainly from larger institutions (with larger budgets). Among other things, the BC Digitization Coalition is working to promote digitization in smaller institutions and groups by promoting the use of the West Beyond the West portal website, and the free software Digital Collection Builder, and by providing training for this and some support. Soon there will be a Digital Collection Builder workshop at the University of Victoria, for instance. And the Archives Association of British Columbia offers education sessions, some by distance education, including Managing Your Oral History Project and Managing Archival Photographs. These are open to members and non-members.
University of Victoria, BC, Digital Collections: http://library.uvic.ca/site/lib/dig/UVicDigitalCollectionsIndex.html
The University of Victoria Library and the University Archives digital collections - Digital Collections A-Z - already includes several resources of particular importance to women's history - the British Colonist newspapers 1858-1910, selections from the records of Peggy and Nicholas Abkhazi, photographic glass-plate transparencies by Herbert Geddes depicting life in Japan c. 1910, military oral histories, and BC Provincial Normal School oral histories. Projects underway include future digitization of a collection of lesbian and bi-sexual oral histories (to be on-line in 2011) and of Government of British Columbia publications, and of materials from the Victoria Women's Movement Archives, held by the UVic Archives. Funds for this last project are being raised right now; read about it in Times Colonist article by Katherine Dedyna, November 4, 2010. Lara Wilson stressed that the University of Victoria Archives collects local history, as well as University materials. Contact her if you have a collection that may be of interest there.
And, last but not least, thank you to all the conference participants and volunteers!
Edited 7 Dec 2010 Mdr