Working with primary materials from home (Digital Peel)

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We know that some research methods require hands-on access to print originals, and we look forward to being able to accommodate this kind of research when it is safe to do so, but it seems that COVID-19 may require us all to have contingency plans in place for some time. 

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 S. Javitch Collection of books about the Indigenous peoples of North and South America 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 S. Javitch Collection of books about the Indigenous peoples of North and South America 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 and please take care!


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