Fonds RBSC-ARC-1036 - Ann Blades fonds

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Ann Blades fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the provenance of the fonds.

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Physical description

ca. 177.6 cm of textual records and other material

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Archival description area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Author and illustrator Ann Blades was born in Vancouver, British Columbia on November 16, 1947. Although Blades was enrolled in a number of schools during her childhood, her experience attending school in England at age 11 proved most influential to her future career. While there, Blades was encouraged to pursue her interest in watercolour painting, an activity which would continue to occupy her in her later years.
Despite her early artistic inclinations, Blades received no formal art training. Instead, she obtained a teaching certificate from the University of British Columbia in 1970 and a nursing degree from the British Columbia Institute of Technology in 1974. Following conferral of her education credentials, Blades moved to north-eastern British Columbia to teach in a two-room school in the small community of Mile 18. It was during this time that she wrote and illustrated her first book, <i>Mary of Mile 18</i> (1971). The following year, Blades moved to Tache in central British Columbia to teach; again finding inspiration for her second work, <i>Boy of Tache</i> (1973). In both of these early works, Ann Blades drew from the lives of her students, capturing the experience of growing up in rural isolation. Both books met with immediate success and critical acclaim.
<i>Mary of Mile 18</i>, won Blades a Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award (1972) and was later made into an animated film (1981), directed by Svend-Erik Eriksen. In 1978, <i>A Salmon for Simon</i>, written by Betty Waterton, and illustrated by Blades, was published, earning Blades the Canada Council’s Children’s Literature Prize for Illustration and the Amelia Francis Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award. According to Gail Edwards and Judith Saltman, authors of, <i>Picturing Canada: A History of Canadian Children’s Illustrated Books and Publishing</i> (2010), Blades considers these illustrations to be her best work. Blades also collaborated with Waterton to produce, <i>Pettranella</i> (1980). Blades has illustrated the works of a number of other authors, including; Michael Macklem’s <i>Jacques the Woodcutter</i> (1977), <i>Six Darn Cows</i> by Margaret Laurence (1979), <i>Anna’s Pet</i> by Margaret Atwood and Joyce Barkhouse (1980), <i>A Candle for Christmas</i> by Jean Speare (1986), <i>Ida and the Wool Smugglers</i> by Sue Ann Alderson (1987), <i>The Singing Basket by Kit Pearson</i> (1990), <i>A Dog Came, Too: A True Story</i> by Ainslie Manson (1993), <i>A Ride for Martha</i> (1993) and <i>Pond Seasons</i> (1997), both by Sue Ann Alderson.
Blades has worked as an illustrator of children’s books and an artist full-time since 1980, winning the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award in 1986 for <i>By the Sea: An Alphabet Book</i> (1985). In 1989, Blades published a series of board books on the four seasons; <i>Fall, Summer, Spring and Winter</i>. Several of Blades’ subsequent works have focused on her own childhood experiences and those of her children. These summer vacation stories include: <i>Back to the Cabin</i> (1996) and <i>The Cottage at Crescent Beach</i> (1977). Recent works written and illustrated by Blades, include: <i>Wolf and the Seven Little Kids</i> (1999) and <i>Too Small</i> (2000).
Today Ann Blades is considered an iconic figure in children’s literature and illustration.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of textual records and artwork created by Ann Blades during the course of her career as an author and illustrator of Canadian children’s literature. The records date from circa 1967 to 2013, with particular concentration during the years immediately prior to the publication of Blades’ works. The fonds is especially strong in areas related to book production and sales, including, contracts, royalty reports, correspondence with publishers, literary agents and designers, layout materials, manuscripts, sketches, drawings and paintings. In addition, the creator has gathered a number of clippings and reviews which document the critical reception of her work.

The fonds is divided into 31 series. 26 of these series, the majority of the materials in the fonds, have been arranged by the creator according to book title (including both published and unpublished works) and therein according to textual records and artwork. This arrangement has been maintained by the processor with each title constituting a separate series. The remaining five series discuss Blades' personal activities, and her professional activities which were not related to a single book.

Book series include:
“Seasons,” Board Books - Production and Reviews (1986-1998),
<i>A Boy of Tache</i> - Reviews (1973-1977),
<i>A Candle for Christmas</i> - Production and Reviews (1982-2001),
<i>A Dog Came, Too</i> - Production, Reviews and Publicity (1989-2001, predominant 1989-1993),
<i>A Ride for Martha</i> - Production (1992-2001),
<i>A Salmon for Simon</i> - Production, Reviews and Awards (1978-1997),
<i>Adolph</i> - Production (1976?-1978),
<i>Anna’s Pet</i> - Production and Reviews (197?-1982),
<i>Anna’s Pet/Six Darn Cows</i> - Materials (1978-2006),
<i>Back to the Cabin</i> - Production, Reviews and Publicity (1993?-1999),
<i>By the Sea: An Alphabet Book</i> - Production, Publication, and Reviews (198-?-1994),
<i>Canadian Books for Children</i> - Production and Publication (1987-1988),
<i>Fowlini</i> - Production ([1971]-1978),
<i>Ida and the Wool Smugglers</i> - Production, Reviews and Publicity (1986-2001),
<i>Jacques the Woodcutter</i> - Production, Reviews and Materials (197?-1981),
<i>Mary of Mile 18</i> - Production, Reviews, Film (1971-2012),
<i>Mile 18 Summer Book</i> - Production (1970),
<i>Mother Goose: A Canadian Sampler</i> - Production and Publication (1992-1994),
<i>Pettranella</i> - Production and Reviews (1978-1994),
<i>Pond Seasons</i> - Production and Reviews (1994-2001),
<i>Six Darn Cows</i> - Production and Reviews (197?-1986),
<i>The Cottage at Crescent Beach</i> - Production, Reviews and Publicity (1974-1988, 2001),
<i>The Singing Basket</i> - Production, Reviews and Materials (1976, 1988-2004),
<i>Too Small</i> - Production and Reviews (1999-2001),
<i>Willemina's Christmas</i> - Production (1977-1982),
and <i>Wolf and the Seven Little Kids</i> - Production and Reviews (1998-1999).

General series include:
General Financial Materials (1981-2013), General Publicity Materials (1974-2004), Personal Materials (1967-2000), Presentations, Exhibitions, and Conferences (1975-2005), and Professional Correspondence (1970-2013).

The 2002, 2006, 2008, 2011, and 2014 accruals also included copies of Blades’ published works. All printed materials have been integrated with the library collections and are searchable via the UBC catalogue.

Since at least 2006, the creator has for many files left annotations or descriptions, which have been kept with the records. The 2011 accrual was well-organized and carefully labelled by Blades before it was officially gifted to the University of British Columbia in 2011. As a result, all file names are based upon the titles devised by the creator. Within each file, Blades grouped related materials and indicated the subject of the grouping with a labelled paper wrapper which she folded around a collection of documents. These paper wrappers have been preserved. File contents have been retained in their original order.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

All materials were acquired directly from the creator, Ann Blades, by donation.These materials have been received in several separate accruals, including:
1996: Box 1, Box 2 and File 5-5
2002 accrual: Box 3, Files 4-1 to 4-4, Files 5-1 to 5-4, and Oversize Map Cabinet file RBSC-ARC-1036-folder 1.
2006 accrual: Files 4-5 to 4-17, Box 6 and File 1-15
2008 accrual: Box 7, Files 8-1 to 8-17, Files 10-1 to 10-3, 10-7 to 10-8 and Oversize Map Cabinet file RBSC-ARC-1036-folder 2.
2011 accrual: Files 8-18 to 8-27, Box 9, Box 11, Files 12-1 to 12-3, Oversize files 10-4 to 10-6 and Oversize Map Cabinet file RBSC-ARC-1036-folder 3.
2014 accrual: Files 12-4 to 12-11, Boxes 13-18, Files 19-1 to 19-5, and Oversize Map Cabinet files RBSC-ARC-1036-folders 4 to 6.
2015 accrual: Boxes 20-23


The majority of the materials in the fonds have been arranged by the creator according to book title and therein according to textual records and artwork. This arrangement has been maintained by the processor, with each published title constituting a separate series. Files 13-16 to 14-7 were grouped in the 2014 accrual as "Material pertaining to previous donations to UBC" and have been added to the relevant preexisting series.

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Restrictions on access

In the interest of protecting the personal privacy of the creator, some restrictions apply. These materials will be closed until 20 years after the creator’s death. Restricted materials have been indicated in the file list with the abbreviation [R]. If you have further questions regarding these restrictions please contact the archivist.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright retained by Ann Blades.

Finding aids

In 2011, the legacy finding aid was revised to ensure compliancy with the Rules for Archival Description (RAD). During this process, separate accrual-based finding aid portions were merged into a single document, series-level descriptions were drafted and a new, re-numbered file list was created. The original series structure, as described by previous processors remains unchanged in this document.

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Further accruals are expected.

Physical description

Includes ca. 177.5 cm of textual records, ca. 1631 drawings and sketches, ca. 626 watercolours, ca. 722 negatives, ca. 484 slides, ca. 373 photographs, and 3 audio cassettes

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