Fonds RBSC-ARC-1129 - Norman Colbeck fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Norman Colbeck fonds

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Colbeck Manuscript Collection

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Physical description

5.55 m of textual records and other material

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Norman Colbeck was born in London, England. On leaving school he worked for three years as a clerk with the Orient Steam Navigation Company in London. In 1923, after a brief period of self-education, chiefly at the British Museum, he was hired to manage the Rare Book Room of Foyles bookshop in Charring Cross Road. In 1927 he launched his own bookshop, later relocating his home and business to Bournemouth. Colbeck moved to Vancouver in 1967 when the University of British Columbia Library acquired his collection of books and manuscripts. He catalogued that collection, an activity which culminated in the publication of A bookmans catalogue: the Norman Colbeck collection of nineteenth-century and Edwardian poetry and belles-lettres in the Special Collections of the University of British Columbia in 1987. Colbeck became a Canadian citizen in 1976 and in 1987 UBC awarded him the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causae) in recognition of his contribution to education and scholarship.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds contains correspondence, notebooks, and other literary manuscripts of many of the authors represented in the Colbeck Book Collection. The fonds also contains records generated by Colbeck, through his activities as a book dealer and collector, and in the process of cataloguing his collection for UBC. Finally, the fonds contains records created by the Librarian in charge of the Colbeck collection, generated in the process of cataloguing and maintaining that collection. The fonds is arranged in three series based on units that have been amalgamated into the current collection: Manuscript collection ([18--]-1914); Book and manuscript collecting records ([19--]-1988); and Colbeck Book Collection and Colbeck Librarian records (1968-1988).

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Finding aids

The original finding aid to the fonds was created as a PDF in 2005. This was appended with an accrual to the fonds in 2019 to reflect the addition of one file (33-28). In 2020, the PDF finding aid was converted to AtoM.

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Finding aid created by Rebecca Russell in March 2005, updated by Claire Williams in January 2019, and converted from PDF by Ashlynn Prasad in April 2020.

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