In Search of Velma Brown [Moore]’s Education: Back to the Colchester Historeum!

Now site of the Colchester Historeum.

Last week, I found a great deal of information in the provincial education reports about the common schools (Grades I-VIII) in Nova Scotia at the time my grandmother, Velma Jane Moore (1897-1975), would have attended. Although there are a few mentions of Lower Economy and Central Economy in the provincial and county reports, including lists of teachers in the various divisions, without knowing the name of the school Velma attended, I don’t know what local information would have been relevant to her common school education in Economy.

I’m particularly interested in piecing together this information because, in his annual reports for South Colchester County, the division inspector consistently raised the following concerns about the rural common schools: quality of instruction, adherence to the provincial curriculum, credentialing of teachers, and condition of the school buildings.

I’m not even sure which schools were actually in existence in Economy Township at the time Velma would have attended, from 1902-1910 (working backwards from her high school graduation in 19151). This is all I have been able to find:

In 1814 there were two schools in the township of Economy, John Campbell and Walter Nichol were the teachers. A combined school-hall was built in 1855-56. A school was erected at “Western Economy” in 1866. A new school was built at Central Economy in 1874, burned down in August 1898. It was rebuilt the next year. The schools at Upper and Lower Economy were completely removed in 1876. A new school was erected at Upper Economy in 1913-14. At Central Economy section a new school was built in 1944.2

I tried looking for municipal records for Economy Point, which is where I thought I would find information about the public schools, given that school funding and the hiring of teachers had to be approved by the local government. After I kept coming up dry, I remembered that Economy was (and still is) unincorporated so it had no municipal government. The records must be held elsewhere.

A Google search for “Economy Township” brought me to the Colchester Historeum in Truro, which holds Colchester County school registration records (160 boxes’ worth). Unfortunately, the records aren’t digitized. As irony would have it, I was in the Colchester Historeum archives room–that very room!–when I visited Nova Scotia this past July. Alas, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Being unfamiliar with the protocol for requesting information long-distance from archival records (if it’s even possible), I looked online for a standard process and to my surprise found it in the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab), which I use on a regular basis for teaching writing. (After the librarian at the college where I work once told me that a reference librarian will run and hide beneath the nearest desk upon sighting the approach of a genealogist, I’m fearful of committing a genealogical research faux pas. I took the librarian’s remark with a grain of salt, but still . . . )

I’ve written a polite and unassuming e-mail to the archivist at the Colchester Historeum, and I unassumingly await her reply.  


Image: Nova Scotia, Annual report of the Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia, for the year ended July 31st, 1900, 1899-1900 ed. (Halifax, Nova Scotia: McAlpine Publishing Co., 1901), frontispiece.

1Journal of Education: Being the Semi-annual Supplement to the Report of the Superintendent of Education, Nova Scotia, april, 1915 ed. (Halifax, Nova Scotia: Wm MacNab and Son, 1915), VIII: 93.

2“Schools,” Municipality of Colchester: The Heart of Nova Scotia, accessed September 17, 2017, https://www.colchester.ca/schools-wc.

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