Peel Workshops, Fall term 2023

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Peel Workshops, Fall term 2023

A series of introductory workshops

Take a moment to discover something new in the rare book library!

Those who have participated in Peel Workshops have found it deeply rewarding to work with primary materials, to learn about the history of books, to hold special rare books in their hands, and to discover what kinds of knowledge can be gleaned from the material objects themselves. For the fall term, we plan to offer a mix of small in-person and larger online workshops, as well as a couple of evening workshops.

Registration is required and opens on Tuesday, 5 September 2023 at 8am. Find detailed workshop descriptions here. Please login using your UALBERTA ID to register here. If you join a waitlist you may be interested in knowing that there is usually some movement in the days right before the workshop.

Online at 11:00-12:20pm on Monday, 18 September 2023
Secrets to Success in Archival Research

Online at 10:00-11:20am on Thursday, 21 September 2023
Tampering with Rare Books 

In-person at 2:00-3:00pm on Monday, 25 September 2023
Exhibition tour of Mercantile Mobility: Chinese Merchants in Western Canada

In-person at 10:00-11:20am on Tuesday, 26 September 2023
Marbled Endpapers & Paper Marbling

Online at 2:00-3:00pm on Wednesday, 27 September 2023
Aztec, Mixtec, and Mayan Pictorial Manuscripts

In-person at 10:00-11:20am on Wednesday, 4 October 2023
Marbled Endpapers & Paper Marbling

In-person at 10:00-11:20am on Thursday, 5 October 2023
Narrative and Storytelling in Artists’ Books

In-person at 10:00-11:20am on Friday, 6 October 2023
Narrative and Storytelling in Artists’ Books

Online at 12:00-1:20 on Tuesday, 10 October 2023
Preserving Treasured Collections

Online at 10:00-11:00 on Wednesday, 11 October 2023
Images from Edmonton's Past

Online at 6:00-7:30pm on Thursday, 12 October 2023
Forgery of Books and Archival Documents in the 21st Century

Online at 9:30-10:30 and 11:00-12:00 on Tuesday, 17 Oct 2023
Reading Between the Lines: Representations of Indigenous Peoples in Print Collections
For students in TYP program only

In-person at 10:00-11:20am on Wednesday, 18 October 2023
Marbled Endpapers & Paper Marbling

Online at 10:00-11:00 on Thursday, 19 October 2023
Taming the Unruly Female Body: Exploring Misogyny in the History of Medicine

In-person at 11:00-12:00 on Tuesday, 24 October 2023
Jane Austen and Friends

Online at 6:00-7:30pm on Tuesday, 31 October 2023
Where Do Our Ideas about Witchcraft Come From?

Mercantile Mobility: Chinese Merchants in Western Canada (Exhibition)

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Mercantile Mobility: Chinese Merchants in Western Canada

Curated by U of A alumna Helen Kwan Yee Cheung, this exhibition takes us on a journey through time, from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century, to explore what happened to Chinese immigrant workers after the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which they helped to build. The curator presents a new perspective on the history and contributions of Chinese immigrants in Canada by profiling those workers who started from the ground up to become merchants and considering how they progressed from mere survival to becoming successful as entrepreneurs. This exhibition examines the distinctive socio-economic landscape where this dynamic group carved out their own niche and quietly propelled the Canadian economy; it reveals how they helped to build communities through movements of products at the municipal, provincial, and global levels.  Their business ventures are explored through rare archival documents and images collected over a decade by the curator through a community-based process and through the ongoing acquisition efforts of Bruce Peel Special Collections. Pre-arranged group visits are offered on Monday afternoons hosted in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English by Helen Cheung, Jeff Papineau, and Michaela Morrrow. The award-winning exhibition catalogue is available for purchase in person in the Peel library for $40 (cash only) or through University of Alberta Press or Indigo.

Main Exhibition in Bruce Peel Special Collections 
(lower level of Rutherford South)
Open 1-4pm Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons from 24 May 2023 to 29 March 2024

Summary Exhibition on the main floor of Rutherford South
Open during Rutherford Library hours (24 May to 10 September 2023)

Group Exhibition Visits
Small groups are offered a brief introduction to the exhibition in English, Cantonese, or Mandarin between 1-4pm on Mondays.  Advance booking is required. To inquire, email

Written by Helen Kwan Yee Cheung, designed by Kevin Zak, and edited by Cheryl Cundell, the Mercantile Mobility catalogue won two Awards of Excellence–in both the book and exhibition catalogue categories–as well as Honorable Mention in the categories of cover design for both books and exhibition catalogues, a quadfecta in the annual UCDA Design Competition (Atlanta, Georgia, 2023) from the University & College Designers Association.

See "New U of A Library Exhibition Honours Chinese Immigrant Contributions," by Taylor Downing in The Quad (25 May 2023).

Peel's hours and services

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EXHIBITION HOURS (24 May 2023 to 29 March 2024)
Mondays 1-4pm: Reserved for pre-arranged group visits*
Tuesdays: Closed
Wednesdays-Fridays 1-4pm: Open for drop-in visitors

Mondays: No research appointments
Tuesdays 1-4pm: Reserved for quiet research, by appointment*
Wednesdays-Fridays 1-4pm: By appointment*

*To request a research appointment or a group exhibition visit (with an introduction that can be offered in Cantonese or Mandarin on request), please write to us at Please note that Peel is closed September 4th, October 9th, November 13th, and from December 25th to January 1st.

Research appointments: To view rare materials held in Bruce Peel Special Collections, please write to us at to request an appointment well in advance, listing the requested materials including author, title, and call number for each item, and offering some date options. We book research appointments on a first-come, first-served basis, so there may be a delay, but we will do our best to be accommodating. Normal reading room policies and protocols, designed to protect rare materials, are in force. If you are planning ahead, please keep in mind that we expect Peel's reading rooms to be closed April-August for three summers, i.e. 2024, 2025, and 2026.

Remote Research Services: The Peel team serves researchers' needs remotely by answering questions about rare materials, providing researchers with images of materials not otherwise available (whenever possible), and providing links to digital resources that may help to meet current research and teaching needs (see "Peel materials online"). If you have questions that relate to materials housed in Bruce Peel Special Collections, you can send us an email at

Like other locations of University of Alberta Library, Bruce Peel Special Collections is open to all researchers, including faculty, staff, students, and members of the general public. 

Peel materials online

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Bruce Peel Special Collections offers a limited number of research appointments each week, but some researchers will want to consider using digital resources where possible, and professors who are planning classes are encouraged to make use of rare materials that can be examined either as print originals or using digital reproductions, so that all options are available to your students.  

In order to help you to identify digital reproductions of primary source materials, we continue to work to add relevant links to the Research Collections page on Peel's website. Such links will help you to find digital content that has been created by U of A Library, by our colleagues at other institutions, and through collaborative projects, such as the very extensive HathiTrust database.  Also, please note that University of Alberta Library subscribes to numerous online databases, including many that offer digitized primary source materials.

Here are some highlights of Peel's digital resources:

Peel's Digital Exhibitions - Expertly curated and filled with images of rare materials, Peel's award-winning digital exhibition program covers topics from the history of photography (Photographies) to Canadian Women Artists' Books to the source of some of the earliest ideas about witches and witch trials (Tinctor's Foul Treatise). They explore the papers (including photographs) of pioneering Western Canadian journalist Miriam Green Ellis, the complexities of interpreting primary historical materials (Sam Steele's Forty Years in Canada: History or Fiction?), and some of the most frequently-requested rare books in Bruce Peel Special Collections (Honorary Degree Books).

Digitized in Databases - Some of Peel's collections have been partially digitized through databases hosted by major publishers, including the Gregory Javitch Collection of books about Indigenous peoples and the Dr Ronald B. Madge Entomology Collection.

Internet Archive - A selection of Peel materials have been digitized through the Internet Archive, including Treaty parchments (for Treaties 4, 6, 7, & 8), the Tinctor manuscipt, a Medieval Book of Hours, a collection of English Playbills (1779-1949), the Indigenous Photograph Collectionas well as selections from the Gregory Javitch Collection of books about Indigenous peoples and the Dr Ronald B. Madge Entomology Collection.

Peel's Prairie Provinces database - This database offers digital access to materials from many institutions, much of it from Library & Archives Canada, but it also features some materials housed in Bruce Peel Special Collections, including Prairie Postcards and the Sam Steele Family Archive (Canadian police, military, and Klondike gold rush history).

Good luck with your research!

Where do ideas about witchcraft come from?

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Explore early ideas about witchcraft by learning about a very rare (and sinister) fifteenth-century manuscript housed in University of Alberta's Bruce Peel Special Collections.

Tinctor's Foul Treatise is an award-winning digital exhibition that unlocks the secrets of this special manuscript. The exhibition was mounted in October 2016 by University of Alberta's Bruce Peel Special Collections, and it is the winner of the prestigious 2018 Leab Award (Electronic Exhibitions) from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of the American Library Association.

The Arras Witch Treatises is a full English-language translation of two important fifteenth-century source texts (Tinctor's Invectives and the anonymous Recollectioprepared by the curators of Tinctor's Foul Treatise and published by Pennsylvania State University Press (2016) as part of their Magic in History series. This edition is available through University of Alberta Library (BF 1582 A155 2016) and is widely available for sale.

Get a close look—through—at the copy of Tinctor's Invectives housed in University of Alberta's Bruce Peel Special Collections.

You can still check out Tinctor's Foul Manual online, a one-hour documentary produced by Paul Kennedy for the CBC's Ideas that has been aired numerous times, most recently on 2 August 2016.

Read "The Travels of a Fifteenth-Century Demonological Manuscript: The University of Alberta's Copy of Jean Taincture's Invectives contre la secte de vaudrie," by Robert Desjardins, Francois Pageau, and Andrew Gow. Florilgelium 33 (26 Aug 2019).

Check out Paula Simons' fascinating exploration of the ways that old ideas about witchcraft continue to haunt us today: "Politics, Powerful Women and Hunting Witches in a New Age of Superstition," Edmonton Journal (29 Oct 2016).  This story helpfully links to a relevant story by Simons: "Witch History takes flight in Rare Manuscript at U of A," Edmonton Journal (27 Oct 2012), and a related blog post "The Witch-Burner's Mein Kampf: Excerpts of Evil" (Oct 2012).

Or this recent article: "300 years on, will thousands of women burned as witches finally get justice?" The Guardian (13 Sept 2020).