Remembering Jeannine Green

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We are deeply saddened by the recent passing of our dear friend and former colleague, Jeannine Green, who retired from the University of Alberta in 2010. Jeannine worked in Bruce Peel Special Collections as the Assistant Special Collections Librarian from 1981 to 2004 and as Special Collections Librarian and unit head from 2004 to 2010. She earned a bachelor’s degree (BASpec) in 1977 and a master’s degree (MLS) in 1980 from the University of Alberta. She was also a sessional instructor in the U of A’s School of Library and Information Studies where she taught History of the Book. Jeannine mentored scores of students, librarians, and library staff, and we remember her friendship and achievements with great pride. She will be missed by all who knew her. 

Accolades for Ancestors catalogue!

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Ancestors: Indigenous Peoples of Western Canada in Historic Photographs 

Curators: Sarah Carter and Inez Lightning

21 September 2022 to 31 March 2023 (open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays from 1-4pm; class/group visits may be requested for Mondays 1-4pm by writing to Note that the exhibition is closed February 20th and April 7th-10th.

Link to introductory exhibition

The Ancestors exhibition cataloguewinner of the Margaret McWilliams Book Award in the Popular History category, one of three finalists in the Women Writers category for a High Plains Book Award, recognized with an honorable mention (8. Exhibition Catalogues) in the annual University & College Designers Association (UCDA) Awards, and reviewed by Felix Berry in Prairie History 8 (Summer 2022)is sold out in the Peel library, but is still available through University of Alberta Press or Indigo.

This exhibition explores a selection of photographs from a rich and diverse collection with potential for enhancing our understanding of the history, economies, culture, ceremonies, and art of the Indigenous Peoples of the western provinces. By sharing the many insights and perspectives generously provided to them by Elders and keepers of traditional knowledge, the curators hope to show us some of the ways that the photographs in this exhibition represent more than moments frozen in time; they carry stories and legacies into the future.

To learn from these photographs, it is crucial that we try to understand them in context. Most of these photographs were created in the nineteenth century by non-Indigenous photographers. Frequently sold as souvenirs or postcards, these images of Indigenous peoples were contrived and disseminated for commercial, ideological, and imperial reasons, and they seemed to satisfy a hunger for exotic, nostalgic, and romanticized depictions of so-called “vanishing” peoples.

Many of the photographs from the Indigenous Photograph Collection can be viewed online through the Internet Archive.

A digital version of the print gallery guide, for use when viewing the exhibition, is available here.

Peel's hours and services

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EXHIBITION HOURS (21 September 2022 to 31 March 2023)
Mondays 1-4pm: Reserved for pre-arranged classes/groups*
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 class/group exhibition visit, please write to us at Please note that Peel is closed February 20th and April 7th-10th.

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. All normal reading room policies and protocols, designed to protect rare materials, remain in force.

Remote Research Services: The Peel team continues to serve 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

COVID protocols: Although no longer required in all spaces, University of Alberta "strongly recommends" the use of face masks in locations such as Bruce Peel Special Collections which require staff and guests to work in "close proximity." You can be assured that we take all recommended precautions to protect exhibition visitors, researchers, and members of the Peel team by limiting the number of people admitted to Peel’s reading rooms at one time and cleaning the spaces carefully in between researchers.

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 Workshops, Winter 2023

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Peel Workshops, Winter 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 winter 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. 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 11am-12n on Thursday, 19 January 2023
Becoming Pauline Johnson: A Mohawk Author’s Breakthrough Moment

In person at 10:00-11:20am on Tuesday, 24 January 2023
Exploring the Diversities of the Book Form: Artists’ Books

Online at 10-11:20am on Wednesday, 25 January 2023
Secrets to Success in Archival Research
Online at 10:00-11:20am on Thursday, 26 January 2023
Preserving Treasured Collections

In person at 10:00-11:20am on Monday, 30 January 2023
Exploring the Diversities of the Book Form: Artists’ Books

In-person at 10-11am on Wednesday, 1 February 2023
Teeny Marvels

Online at 6:00-7:30pm on Wednesday, 1 February 2023
What is the History of Books?

Online at 6:00-7:30pm on Thursday, 2 February 2023
Where Do Our Ideas about Witchcraft Come From?
In-person at 10-11am on Tuesday, 7 February 2023
Teeny Marvels
Online at 10-11am on Wednesday, 8 February 2023
From the Grotesque to the Sublime: Exploring Rare Medical Books
Online at 10:00-11:20am on Tuesday, 14 February 2023
Secrets of the Rare Book Library
Online at 10-11am on Wednesday, 15 February 2023
Images from Edmonton’s Past

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 <currently under repair>, 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).