Fonds UBCA-ARC-1043 - Charles E. Borden fonds

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Charles E. Borden fonds

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  • Multiple media

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

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Physical description

8.63 m of textual records and other material

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Biographical history

Charles E. Borden, the grandfather of British Columbia archaeology, was born in New York City on May 15, 1905. Shortly after, he accompanied his widowed mother to her family home in Germany, where he was raised. At the age of 22, after accidentally discovering he was an American citizen, Borden returned to the United States. He enrolled at the University of California at Los Angeles, receiving his BA in German Literature in 1932. He continued his German studies at the Berkeley campus of the University of California. He later secured an MA in 1933 and a Ph.D. in 1937. In addition, he held a brief teaching assignment at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Borden joined the Department of German at the University of British Columbia in 1939 and remained a member until his retirement.
As a result of various circumstances, including the difficulty of securing research materials from Germany during World War II and the post-war period, Borden became increasingly more interested in a subject closer to home, the archaeology of British Columbia. Borden began his archaeological career with a small privately funded dig in the Point Grey area in 1945. He gradually expanded the scope of his archaeological research to include major surveys throughout the province, salvage archaeology and in-depth studies of Fraser Canyon and Delta areas. In 1949 he was appointed Lecturer in Archaeology in the Department of Sociology and Archaeology at the University of British Columbia while retaining his German department responsibilities.
From 1949 to 1978, Borden established a highly respected and internationally visible presence in archaeology as an instructor, an author, an editor, a researcher, and a spokesman for his chosen discipline throughout the balance of his career. His publications reflect his principal interest in archaeology and cultural-historical synthesis. He developed the Uniform Site Designation Scheme, adopted in most of Canada. In addition to his academic contributions to archaeology, Borden also devoted considerable energy to securing provincial legislation to protect archaeological sites. In conjunction with Wilson Duff, he was responsible for the passage in British Columbia of the 1960 Archaeological and Historic Sites Protection Act and the Archaeological sites Advisory Board. Borden married Alice Victoria Witkin in 1931. They had two sons, John Harvey and Richard Keith. Alice Borden pioneered the development of numerous new techniques in pre-school education throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Her papers are also available at the University of British Columbia Archives. Alice Borden predeceased her husband in 1971. In 1976 Borden married his second wife, Hala. Charles E. Borden died Christmas afternoon in 1978, having completed editing a chapter in a book on the prehistory of Northwest Coast art.

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Scope and content

Fonds contains three series: Archaeology, German and Personal. Within each series, the material has been organized into subseries such as correspondence, subject files, manuscripts, papers and reports.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The papers were willed to the University of British Columbia Archives by Charles E. Borden. They have been organized for researchers with the help of a grant from the Koerner Foundation which also supported several of the archaeological digs undertaken by Charles Borden.


Considerable attempts have been made to ensure that Borden's notions of relationships have been preserved. As a result, the correspondence subseries contains material "in, out, and about" an individual or subject in the same file, as this was Borden's method. Similarly, material by an individual may be found in both the file under their name and in a file under the name of the institution they represented.

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Availability of other formats

Selected photographs have been digitized and can be accessed through the UBC Library Open Collections (Series UBC 26.1).

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Some restrictions apply.

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Finding aids

Online Finding Aid
Please see finding aid for an inventory of files.

Uploaded finding aid

Associated materials



Those portions of the fonds not requiring standard archival storage have been removed to other more appropriate areas such as the photographic section of the University of British Columbia Archives, the pamphlet collection of the Special Colections Division of the Main Library, and the Archaeology Laboratory.

Physical description

Includes: 813 photographs, 7 prints, 1 watercolour, 62 maps, 3 audio reels, 17 microfilm reels.

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