Fonds RBSC-ARC-1121 - Nan Cheney fonds

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Nan Cheney fonds

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Physical description

91 cm of textual records;279 photographs;107 slides

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Biographical history

Born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Nan Cheney spent part of her childhood in Havana, Cuba, then studied art at Tulane University. She completed the “Art as Applied to Medicine” program at Johns Hopkins University (1921-23) where she worked under medical artist Max Brodel. She was a well-known B.C. portrait painter as well as a medical artist for the University of British Columbia, and McGill University. In 1924 she married Dr. Hill H. Cheney and in 1937 they moved to Vancouver. Cheney met and corresponded with many Canadian artists and she enjoyed a close friendship with Emily Carr in the period before Carr's work had gained general acceptance. Cheney collected material about Emily Carr until December 1979.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of 71 holograph letters from Ethel Wilson to Cheney, as well as correspondence from Wallace Wilson, Mary [Dodds] and Dorothy McNair. There is also correspondence between Nan Cheney and various artists, including Emily Carr, between the years 1938 and 1984. Cheney's subject files on Canadian artists are included in the fonds, along with newspaper and periodical clippings, memorabilia, photographs and manuscripts.

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Immediate source of acquisition

Three immediate sources of acquisition for the records have been determined: material noted in the inventory housed in boxes 1 to 4 were deposited by Nan Cheney at the University of British Columbia Library; a second group of records identified as Addendum 1, housed in boxes 5 to 7-13, were donated from her home after her death in 1985; and a third group of records identified as Addendum 2, housed in box 7-15 through box 9 (oversize), were acquired in 1991.


The material has been arranged in two parts – letters and items by or about Emily Carr and general material about other Canadian artists that Cheney divided into subject files. Arrangement of the records has generally followed the series order devised at UBC Library Special Collections by George Brandak in 1980, Deborah Gill in 1986, and Norman Amor in 1991.

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Inventory available. PDF document attached.

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Associated materials

Related material can be found in the Ethel Wilson fonds.

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No further accruals expected.

General note

Photographs, negatives, and slides were separated for preservation reasons. These items are located in the Nan Cheney Photographs series and are stored in photograph storage according to format - slides, negatives, prints.

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Photograph Identifier: BC-1849

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