Key Acquisitions: Logbooks of the Larkins

The Libraries work with a network of almost 30 dealers in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe to acquire rare works that support York’s mission to pursue, preserve, and disseminate knowledge. E-mail notifications, websites, and virtual fairs have been adopted by booksellers in response to the growth of the Internet and the pandemic. Michael Moir, Head of the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, discovered three logbooks of the Larkins, a merchant ship, in December 2021 on the website of The Wayfarer’s Bookshop, an antiquarian bookseller located on Bowen Island, British Columbia. The logbooks were created during a round-trip voyage between London, England and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India in 1840-1841. These volumes served as the foundation for an assignment in the Fall 2022 semester of “A History of Reading,” a fourth-year seminar offered by the Departments of History and English. The course, which met weekly in ASC’s classroom, used class time so that students could examine the logbooks in small groups, focus on a particular aspect of the volumes, undertake background research to understand the context in which the records were created, and come up with ways to present their findings in the virtual environment using Scalar, a web-based publishing software. The students were also asked to write a brief grant proposal to fund a digital humanities project intended to make the logbooks accessible online.

Originally published in the York University Libraries Impact Report (2021-2023).


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