Title and statement of responsibility area
John MacKenzie Norris fonds
General material designation
- Textual record
- Photographic material
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Title statements of responsibility
- Source of title proper: The title is based on the contents of the fonds.
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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
- Norris, John
Physical description area
3.34 m of textual materials.
48 black & white photographs (32 negatives and 16 prints).
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Archival description area
Name of creator
John MacKenzie Norris was born on March 3, 1925, in Kelowna, BC, to Jean Mary Norris Denovan and Thomas Grantham Norris. At his birth, his father, T.G. Norris, was practicing as a lawyer in Kelowna and subsequently served as a judge on both the British Columbia Supreme Court and the British Columbia Court of Appeal. John Norris had an older sister and a younger brother, attended elementary schools in Kelowna and Vancouver, and graduated from Lord Byng Secondary School in Vancouver. He enlisted with the Royal Navy in 1943 and, after returning, attended UBC from 1946-1949, where he obtained both a Bachelor of Arts Degree (1948) and a Master of Arts Degree (1949). At UBC, he met Barbara Violet Casey, whom he married in 1947. They had one son, Thomas Norris. John Norris pursued additional graduate work at Northwestern University, obtaining his Ph.D. in 1955 and post-graduate studies at the London School of Economics.
In 1953, John Norris began teaching as an instructor within the Department of History at the University of British Columbia and in 1964 became a Professor of the Department of History. He published five books and numerous articles in the areas of administrative, economic and demographic history. During the 1970s, he began to change his academic focus towards the history of medicine. Over the next few decades, he specialized in studying the history of various diseases, including plague, cholera, and scurvy.
In 1980, John Norris was appointed Professor and Director of the Division of the History of Medicine and Science at UBC. He continued to serve in this role until his retirement early in 1990, when he was extended the title of Professor Emeritus in the History of Medicine. He continued to teach on a part-time basis until at least 2004.
Norris served on many boards and committees, including acting as the Chair of the Osler Medal Committee of the American Association for the History of Medicine (1978-1979); as Chair of the Programme Committee of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine (1983); and as the Chair of the Grants Committee of the Hannah Institute for the History of Medicine (1980). At UBC, he served in such capacities as Chairman, University Curriculum Committee, UBC (1968-1974); as a Member of the University Senate (1964-1974); and as Chairman of the University Grievance Committee (1968-1969). In addition, he held an American Council of Learned Societies Graduate Fellowship, 1951-3; a Nuffield Commonwealth Fellowship, 1961-1962. A Canada Council Senior Fellowship, 1967-1968; and a Killam Senior Research Scholarship, from 1975-1976.
John Norris was an active member in politics, first in the CCF and subsequently of the NDP. In 1963, he unsuccessfully ran to be NDP representative for Vancouver Centre during the British Columbia Provincial election. John Norris died on May 2, 2010. At the time of his death, he was working on a history of cholera.
Scope and content
Fonds consists of the personal papers of John Norris, including family papers, correspondence of both a personal and professional nature, notes of academic articles, lecture and class notes, as well as several photographs of Norris and his family. Fonds has been organized into seven series: Correspondence series; Family series; Political Career series; Hannah Institute series, Research Materials and Publications series; Teaching series; and Photographs series. Materials are arranged in alphabetical order unless otherwise indicated.
Immediate source of acquisition
Thomas Norris, son of John Norris, transferred the bulk of these documents to the UBC Archives in 2014.
File 2-7a was found in Woodward Biomedical Library and transferred to the Archives in 2018.
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Online finding aid
Please see the finding aid for an inventory of files.
Uploaded finding aid
Note that UBC Library Rare Books and Special Collections holds the papers of Thomas G. Norris, the father of John Norris.