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Helen Creighton fonds
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Helen Creighton fonds

  • MG 1 Volumes 2790-2845
  • Fonds
  • 1850-1990, predominant 1928-1987

Fonds consists of textual records, graphic material, sound recordings, and moving images created and accumulated by Helen Creighton documenting her private life and professional career as folklorist and author. The fonds includes an extensive collection of folk songs and folk tales which Creighton actively acquired over a sixty year period, and which document the diverse ethnic groups and cultural traditions of Nova Scotia and also New Brunswick. Fonds consists of three series: Photographs depicting Creighton's life and career; Sound recordings and moving images made and accumulated by Creighton; and Correspondence and other material.

Creighton, Helen

Photographs depicting Creighton's life and career

Series forms part of Helen Creighton fonds and consists of photographs (albums, prints, negatives, glass slides, postcards) created and accumulated by Creighton in the course of her personal and professional life. From ca. 1910-1920 the Creighton family operated a private darkroom in their home, and the early period of Helen's life is subsequently well-documented. Images include portraits of several generations of Creighton family members and friends taken mostly between ca. 1850-1930 (some unidentified); Creighton's childhood activities and family travels; college and early work experiences including the Royal Flying Corps and Nova Scotia Red Cross Caravan; scenes of Nova Scotia, including Halifax and Dartmouth after the Halifax Explosion; her informants at Devils Island, Cape Breton and other communities; Mi'kmaq singers; musicians, friends, and associates; folk festivals and conferences attended; Canadian Authors' Association tours; honourary degree and awards ceremonies; productions based on her publications and life such as "The Collector"; and her family home "Evergreen". Several family photographs and publicity photographs were taken by professional photographers. Series also includes drawings of Helen Creighton and Mrs. Dennis Smith, and ink drawings of birds by Ed McCurdy; one includes the sailing vessel SS Helen, Dartmouth.

Correspondence and other material

Series forms part of Helen Creighton fonds and consists of correspondence received by Creighton primarily from the 1930s to the late 1980s, including letters from colleagues and collaborators, folk singers and musicians, informants, employers, publishers, some letters from friends, family and admirers, and a small portion of copies of outgoing correspondence. Series also contains scrapbooks assembled by Creighton and others, which include newspaper clippings, articles, programs and other ephemera concerning her career, ca. 1918-1986; her field journals and notebooks which contain daily descriptions of collecting trips, [193-?]-1960; transcripts of folk music and folk tale recordings; sheet music, 1885-1924; lyrics; personal diaries, ca. 1937-1962; draft manuscripts of books including Songs and Ballads of Nova Scotia, Traditional Songs from Nova Scotia, Bluenose Ghosts, and her autobiography A Life in Folklore ; published and unpublished articles, short stories, songs, and poems by Creighton and other writers; research notes; newspaper clippings; contracts and royalty statements; lectures; broadcast scripts; reports; file cards; biographies of informants; index to songs and singers; certificates; and ephemera such as programs, brochures, and posters. Under the general subject of Maritime folklore and history, aspects of Creighton's work include folk songs, supernatural beliefs and superstitions, dances, games, cures, proverbs, and children's folklore. Series also contains records relating to Creighton's personal activities and her involvement with the Canadian Authors' Association, CBC, and other organizations.

Sound recordings and moving images made and accumulated by Creighton

Series forms part of Helen Creighton fonds and consists of audio reels, audio discs, audio cassettes, audio cartridges, and cylinder recordings compiled in the course of Creighton's field work. Creighton first began recording her informants on wax cylinder ca. 1930-1932. Previous to 1930, transcriptions were done by hand. The majority of field recordings comprising the series were compiled in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick during her association with the Library of Congress (1943-1944), joint Library of Congress-National Museum sponsorship (1947-1948), and sole National Museum sponsorship (1949-1967). Recordings consist of folk tales and over 4000 songs and ancient ballads sung or narrated by Creighton's informants of Gaelic ancestry in Cape Breton, Acadians, Mi'kmaq, African-Nova Scotians, and other ethnic groups such as English, German, Latvian, and Maori. Recordings include: Mi'kmaq songs sung by Chief William Paul at Shubenacadie, Acadian songs from West Pubnico, German songs and stories from Halifax and Lunenburg counties, and stories of ghosts, superstitions, witchcraft, and buried treasure. Other recordings accumulated by Creighton include military bands from World War Two, Meet the Navy show, nature sounds, general history, published sound recordings including Maritime, Canadian and international folk music, compilations of her previous recordings, her radio and television broadcasts for CBC and CHNS, recordings by others (some commercial) using Helen Creighton material, and some unidentified field recordings. Series also includes videocassettes and films produced for CBC, NFB, ATV, and the province of Nova Scotia.