Blog Archives

New Findings on Thomas Chatterton

This past Summer Chris Jones travelled from Scotland to spend one month in the Reading Room to investigate several rare editions from the Rare Books stacks attributed to the young poet, Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770).  Professor Jones was the recipient of …

New Findings on Thomas Chatterton Read More »

Fashionable Northern Tours

Summer is the perfect time for a holiday get-away. Maybe you are in the midst of looking into various guides and maps to get to your perfect destination and make the most of it. Travellers of the nineteenth century did …

Fashionable Northern Tours Read More »

“I fear our cypher is detected”: When agony ads go awry

The “FLO. Ciphers,” sent between September 1853 and January 1854, were a lovers’ correspondence that appeared in the Agony Column of “The Times”. Identifiable only by their addressee, the correspondence was the subject of much intrigue due to the unique numeric cipher in which it was written. The cipher was broken and later intercepted by Charles Babbage, a Victorian mathematician with a knack for code breaking. The ever-witty Babbage let the correspondents onto his discovery by correcting the grammar and spelling of one of their messages. Finding themselves exposed, the lovers ended their secret correspondence in haste.

By: Ronny Litvack-Katzman, Research Assistant, ROAAr At first glance, the Agony Column appears a perfect outlet for clandestine correspondences. Throughout the 19th-century, thousands of writers across the British Empire successfully sent and received cryptic messages through popular Victorian newspapers such …

“I fear our cypher is detected”: When agony ads go awry Read More »

A Victorian-era funeral notice and the story behind it

Funeral notice featuring an illustration of a landscape with angels.

By Eden Autmezguine, 2nd year student, Faculty of Arts and Science and Student Project Assistant in Rare Books and Special Collections. Eden’s position is made possible thanks to funding from the SSMU Library Improvement Fund. Pictured above from the holdings …

A Victorian-era funeral notice and the story behind it Read More »

Funny, Isn’t It?

Cartoon entitled "At Work with a Stylus". he McGill Daily Vol. 29 No. 097: March 18, 1940.

By Alisa Nosova, Marketing Assistant, McGill Library When I was in high school I romanticized about what my life would look like in university. I pictured myself walking on campus with books in my hands. I imagined walking through stacks …

Funny, Isn’t It? Read More »

Baking from Historical Recipes with a Grain of Salt

Mock Cherry Pie filling

By Kristen Howard This Pi(e) Day I had the great pleasure of participating in the Great Library Pie Bake-Off (GLPBO) using materials from McGill’s extensive Cookbook Collection. The GLPBO is an annual event coordinated by the Folger Shakespeare that invites …

Baking from Historical Recipes with a Grain of Salt Read More »

Then in Now: McLennan-Redpath Over Time

Colour photograph of McLennan-Redpath Terrace with overlay of black and white archival photo of same location.

Throughout the day-to-day of classes, studying, exams, and papers, it’s easy to forget that countless McGill students have walked these halls and gathered on this terrace over the course of the Library’s long history. This new series of digital collages …

Then in Now: McLennan-Redpath Over Time Read More »

Ephemeral expressions in the Madeleine Parent fonds

The finding aid for the Madeleine Parent fonds is now available on McGill’s Archival Collections Catalogue. The fonds of the labour and social activist holds countless narratives, from Parent’s union work and writings to the history of Canadian unionism. Moreover, …

Ephemeral expressions in the Madeleine Parent fonds Read More »

A whole romance contained in four little lines: Introducing the Agony Column

Princess Henry of Battenberg reads the newspaper aloud to Queen Victoria in “A Glimpse of the Queen’s Home Life.” From the Illustrated London News (26 January 1901): 130. Illustrated London News / Gale Digital Scholar Lab

by Ronny Litvack-Katzman, Research Assistant, ROAAr “A whole romance contained in four little lines”, “seven words [that] gave a three volume novel in a nutshell” — such are the descriptions that 19th-century commentators gave to the collection of personal advertisements …

A whole romance contained in four little lines: Introducing the Agony Column Read More »

Archival Collections Catalogue interface tweaked for increase ease of use

Zoomed in detail on wide tree view of new Archival Collections Catalogue interface.

by Anna Dysert, Associate Librarian, Archives and Manuscripts/Special Collections, Collection Services The McGill Library Archival Collections Catalogue has switched over to a more user-friendly interface to help users navigate archival descriptions. The fresh look will allow researchers to better visualize the relationships between records in a fonds or collection and move between record descriptions. …

Archival Collections Catalogue interface tweaked for increase ease of use Read More »

Library Matters seeks to exchange and encourage ideas, innovations and information from McGill Library staff for our on-campus readers and beyond.

Contact Us!

If you have any questions, comments, or even an idea for a story, let us know!