In Search of Velma Brown [Moore]’s Education: Thank You, HathiTrust!

Picture of exhibit at Little White School House Museum, Truro, Nova Scotia

I hit the mother lode of sources this weekend in my search for my grandmother Velma’s  education in Nova Scotia in the first quarter of the twentieth century. After a circuitous route through Google Books, WorldCat, EBSCOhost, and Canadiana.org, I finally found what I was looking for in HathiTrust: full-text versions of the Journal of Education put out by the Nova Scotia Department of Education.

Oddly enough Canadiana.org, has full-text digital editions of the same journal (which were digitized by the University of Illinois1); however, you have to purchase a subscription to Canadiana.org to be able to access them. I’ll leave any further pondering about the complexities of mass book digitization projects to archivists and cultural historians. (I got sidetracked by an interesting article about the demise of the Google Books digitization project in The Atlantic.) Moving on . . .

Each edition of the Journal of Education includes listings of the students in the various school districts who passed provincial examinations and the credentials they were awarded.  Velma’s name was listed in the editions for the inclusive years of her secondary and university education (1912-1918), with the exact specificity I’d been looking for. Moreover, I found the contextual information I wanted to know about curriculum, instructional methods, teacher training, and even educational philosophy (surprisingly progressive). Having this contextual information about the education system Velma went through is critical to understanding how her education could have shaped the woman she became.

However, given how far removed I am in place and time, I don’t understand most of what I’ve found! It’s going to take me some time to read and synthesize the journal mother lode before I can understand and articulate the significance of the information pertaining to Velma. That being the case, I’m going to take a brief hiatus from this blog to get that work done.

See you in a couple of weeks with the first installment of Velma’s education!


1HathiTrust, “Catalog Record: Journal of Education,” HathiTrust Digital Library, accessed August 20, 2017, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011482589 HathiTrust, “Catalog Record: Journal of Education,” HathiTrust Digital Library, accessed August 20, 2017, https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011482589.

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