This Week in History: The personal records of Lawrence James Wallace

This Week in History: The personal records of Lawrence James Wallace

Claire Gilbert, archivist and librarian at the Royal BC Museum, looks over a large table brimming with documents and photographs.

“So, we have his letters home, we have some snapshots in here of his young children” she explains.

Gilbert is referring to a remarkable donation of personal records, from the family of Lawrence James Wallace, who was born in 1913 in Metchosin.

“He was a longtime public servant, and really served as BC’s senior protocol officer for a period of about 30 years. He organized all of our Centennial celebrations, so 1958, ’67 and ’71, and before his retirement from public service, he served as our agent-general in London, representing BC in the United Kingdom,” Gilbert said.

The archives already had Wallace’s government records, created during his time as deputy provincial secretary and deputy premier.  Now, the family has donated his personal records.

“Personal papers, recollections, a lot of photographs of the protocol events” explains Gilbert.  “We’ve got correspondence about when Princess Grace of Monaco was coming to visit…so these really are a different insight into his role as a public servant, in his private life.”

The BC Archives is grateful that the family contacted them.

“We want to acquire records that represent the human and natural history of B.C.,” says Gilbert.  “We really are looking for records of significant people, organizations, events, that form part of our long and amazing history here in the province.”

Gilbert explains that those donations come in all forms of media.

“We get film, we get photographs, we get old journals in really old handwriting. We look at it all, and what does it say about that story, that person, that place,” Gilbert said.

“The more that a donor, or a donor family, can tell us about how the records were created – who may have had them beforehand, as it’s researchers who will come in and use those records – it tells a story.”

The Wallace family’s donation is a valued addition to the B.C. Archives and supports the archives’ role of documenting BC’s fascinating history.

“He was an amazing man. He made some incredible contributions, he was highly honoured in his career.  He really is the epitome of the private records acquisition that we look for.”

Veronica CooperVeronica Cooper

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