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, 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, 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 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,

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

  1. What a fabulous find! Educational information can be notoriously difficult to find because of (1) many districts destroy records after “X” number of years and (2) modern privacy.

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    • For some of the information I found, I had to come at it from an angle. For example, I made two more finds today by searching for the Toronto Public Library, where Velma had worked briefly. I found annual reports and searched for her name inside the report. Good luck with your searches!


  2. Very cool! I’ve used HathiTrust in the past for other research, but not for genealogical records. It’s fascinating that you were able to find information on your grandmother’s education through their collections. It makes me want to poke around their website and in their collection to see what they might have for my ancestors!

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  3. Just ‘attended’ a webinar including reference to the HathiTrust Digital library. It added to what was included to read about your ‘real’ experience. I also loved your opening graphic. It was a real eye-grabber. Isn’t it fun when you find the perfect graphic. Look forward to following Velma’s adventures.

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