Laurenda Daniells, University Archivist Emerita (1923-2017)

Laurenda Daniells, first Archivist of the University of British Columbia[Update: A Memorial will be held at the University Hill Congregation, 6050 Chancellor Blvd. (Google Maps), Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. The service will be preceded by lunch at noon and followed by a reception. Parking is available at the UBC Rose Garden parkade.]

Laurenda Daniells, first Archivist of the University of British Columbia, died peacefully at her home on Wednesday evening, 4 January 2017, surrounded by the love of her children and grandchildren.

Laurenda was born in Winnipeg in 1923.  She attended the University of Manitoba and graduated with a degree in social work in 1945. Her first job was with the protection division of the Children’s Aid Society of Winnipeg.

In May 1948 she married Roy Daniells, recently appointed as head of the English Department at the University of British Columbia, and moved with him to Vancouver. She and Roy purchased an empty lot on Allison Road in the University Hill neighbourhood, where they built one of the first homes in the progressive “West Coast Modern” style.  Together they raised two daughters (Susan and Sara), and enjoyed European and African travel adventures.  In particular, she and her family spent a year in Europe in 1959-60, during Roy’s sabbatical supported by a Canada Council grant.  Laurenda also served three terms as a school board trustee, and did a considerable amount of volunteer work.

In 1969 Laurenda returned to school and entered the one-year Library Science degree programme at UBC.  After graduating, she followed that with a six-week archival management course at the Public Archives of Canada.  In 1970 she was appointed the first University Archivist at UBC Library’s Special Collections Division.  Alone in this position for many years, Laurenda worked to bring some order to the institution’s historical records.  She organized those materials which had already accumulated in Special Collections, and arranged for the acquisition of additional  inactive administrative records from the various University departments, as well as private papers from prominent faculty, staff, and alumni.  By the time she retired in 1988 with the honorary title “University Archivist Emerita”, Laurenda had established the University Archives on firm foundations.

During her career at UBC Laurenda served for several years on the Faculty Association executive, and on the University Senate.  She also served a one-year term as president of the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of B.C.

After her retirement Laurenda continued with her volunteer work, in particular her continuing involvement with University Hill United Church.  She enjoyed writing, and in her eighties began recording her life stories with the Brock Hall Life Writers Group.  In 2016 these stories were collected in her published memoir, Royal Blood.

Roy Daniells died in 1978.  Laurenda is survived by her two daughters, and four grandchildren. Funeral arrangements to be announced.

2 responses to “Laurenda Daniells, University Archivist Emerita (1923-2017)”

  1. Shelley Sweeney

    Laurenda Daniels was responsible for getting me into the Archival Studies program at UBC. I was supposed to see the Special Collections Librarian for career counselling but she was away the day I dropped in and by lucky circumstance Laurenda Daniells was in instead. Speaking with Laurenda was the encouragement I needed to change course and pursue a career in archives, and I’ve always thanked my lucky stars that I ended up in this field. I recently had the pleasure to read Laurenda’s autobiography. The first part, when she lived in Winnipeg, is especially moving and reminiscent of the naïve perspective of Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It’s a very powerful exposure of the casual racism that imbued Canadian society in the early years of the 20th century and I recommend reading it for that part alone (if you can get a copy of it!). I will remember Laurenda and while sorry I didn’t get to see her in person, am so thankful I did get to email with her in these last few months.

  2. Chris Hives

    As the person who gave me my first job in the archival world I, of course, have nothing but incredibly fond memories of Laurenda. I had the good fortune to work with her for three years following my MAS graduation on a contract to undertake an “automation” project designed to provide intellectual and physical access to archival holdings in UBC’s University Archives and Special Collections using the relatively new pc computer technology in the mid-1980s. Laurenda was the architect of this cutting-edge, grant-funded project and this was quite representative of someone who was very much a forward thinker and went to great lengths to keep up with the latest developments in the archival profession. I learned a great deal from Laurenda during the three years of the project. Not only did I benefit from Laurenda’s professional mentorship during this time but she also, through example, made me appreciate the importance of service to the profession and taking the time to give back to in some small way try to make things better. Laurenda throughout her career was very active in local, provincial and national archival organizations and in particular a strong advocate for formal and informal archival education. When she retired in 1988 I was fortunate to succeed her as UBC University Archivist and as such I inherited a program built on a very firm foundation and well-respected across the campus.