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History General

Nothing to Write Home About

British Family Correspondence and the Settler Colonial Everyday in British Columbia

by (author) Laura Ishiguro

UBC Press
Initial publish date
May 2019
General, Indigenous Studies, Great Britain
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2019
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  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2019
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2019
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Nothing to Write Home About uncovers the significance of British family correspondence sent between the United Kingdom and British Columbia between 1858 and 1914. Drawing on thousands of letters, Laura Ishiguro offers insights into epistolary topics including familial intimacy and conflict, everyday concerns such as boredom and food, and what correspondents chose not to write. She shows that Britons used the post to navigate family separations and understand British Columbia as an uncontested settler home. These letters and their writers played a critical role in laying the foundations of a powerful settler order that continues to structure the province today.

About the author


  • Commended, The Wilson Book Prize, McMaster University

Contributor Notes

Laura Ishiguro is an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of British Columbia, where she is a historian of settler colonialism, mobility, family, and the everyday in Canada and the British Empire. Her research has been published in a number of edited collections and journals, including a 2016 article in BC Studies – “Growing Up and Grown Up […] in Our Future City: Discourses of Childhood and Settler Futurity in Colonial British Columbia” – which won the 2017 Canadian Committee on Migration, Ethnicity, and Transnationalism article prize. She has also coedited (with Esmé Cleall and Emily J. Manktelow) a 2013 special issue of the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History on histories of family in the British Empire, and edited a 2016 special issue of BC Studies on histories of settler colonialism in British Columbia. She is an associate of the Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University (2017–20) and a recipient of the Killam Teaching Prize at UBC (2018).

Editorial Reviews

"[...]seemingly disparate topics are interwoven with the central threads of settler colonialism and trans-imperial family relations to produce a cohesive and sophisticated analysis."

Left History

Laura Ishiguro has written a fine book. Her meticulous examination of colonial correspondence is engaging and illuminating. She displays a considerable sensitivity for the language used by white settlers to discursively claim British Columbia and normalise their presence there. Ishiguro is especially skilful in summarising her conclusions at the end of each chapter, fluently articulating the tangled voices of British settlers.

The Ormsby Review