Prince of Wales Coming to Town? Call the Library!

By Rembrandt Studios – This file has been provided by the British Library from its digital collections. It is also made available on a British Library website.Catalogue entry: HS85/10/36284, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2675006

As I’ve been reviewing the annual report of the Toronto Public Library for 1919, the year my grandmother Velma Jane Moore began working there as a cataloguer, much was made of the Reference Department’s role in preparing the City of Toronto for a state visit by the Prince of Wales:

 . . . no day passed that we should have to wrestle with problems such as: The correct way to address the Prince of Wales; the meaning and the origin of the motto “Ich Dien”; the standard of the Prince of Wales; when flown; his crest and coat of arms; the flag of the Prince of Wales in color; a portrait of the Prince of Wales in his trench coat; the words of the song “God Bless the Prince of Wales”; a description of aiguelettes worn by a Naval A.D.C., to send to a Naval tailor for the Prince of Wales’ reception; material on Rear Admiral Halsey (Chief of Staff), account of the Prince of Wales’ (King Edward) visit to Canada in 1861, etc., etc.1

Let’s see how well I can do with Google:

An account of the Prince of Wales’ visit to Canada in 1861 can be found in Chapter II of H.R.H, the Prince of Wales: an Account of His Career, including His Birth, Education, Travels, Marriage and Home Life; and Philanthropic, Political, and Social Life by Marie Lowndes, published in 1898 by Grant Richards of London. (Retrieved from Hathitrust 1/10/2019. )

Biographical material on Rear Admiral Lionel Halsey can be found in Chapter IX of Admirals of the British Navy: Portraits in Colour by Francis Dodd, published by the Offices of “Country Life,” LTD in 1917. (Retrieved from Internet Archive 1/20/2019.)

The lyrics to “God Bless the Prince of Wales” can be found in the program for the 1882 Christmas Music Festival held at Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal. (Retrieved from Internet Archive 1/20/2019.)

I found answers to the other questions as well, but the sources were dated after 1919 or located in online archives with no original source listed, so I didn’t include them. I wouldn’t want to have an unfair advantage over our doughty band of reference librarians!

And now, for a historical oddity found along the way:

Photograph appears in The Prince of Wales’ book: a pictorial record of the voyages of H.M.S. “Renown” 1919-1920, published by Hodder & Stoughton, LTD, 1921. (Retrieved from Internet Archive 1/20/2019.)

And a mystery to be solved!

I found this invitation to meet the Prince of Wales in The Family Archives. Ronald Dalrymple Brown was my maternal grandfather. (He and Velma married in 1926.) At the time of the invitation to meet the Prince of Wales, Ronald was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The only connection I can see between him and the reception to meet the Prince is that it was held in New Brunswick, and Ronald’s mother was originally from New Brunswick. However, that seems like an extremely tenuous connection. Figuring this one out is going to take some doing!


1Frances M. Staton, “Reports from the Departments: Reference Department,” Toronto Public Library Thirty-Sixth Annual Report, 1919, 13.

Sepia Sunday: Librarians Just Want to Have Fun

Toronto Public Library staff in front of Central Library, College Street, northwest corner of St. George Street, Toronto, Ont., 1920

This photograph of my grandmother Velma Jane Moore’s time as a librarian in Toronto was not among her personal memorabilia. I found it in the Toronto Public Library’s digital archives. It’s such a wonderful picture of her that I hope she at least saw a copy of it at the time it was taken.


Image: “Toronto High Park 1921-1922”, photograph album in Toronto Public Library (1883-1998) fonds. Unaccessioned records. Photographs. Box 39. Branches High Park

 

“Assembled Piecemeal by Pack Rats and Vandalized Nightly”

As I continue to research my grandmother Velma Jane Moore’s time as a cataloguer at the Toronto Public Library from 1919–1922, I’m using the Toronto Public Library’s annual reports as primary sources for the historical context of library services at that time. Prominent in these reports is the increased demand for children’s services identified by children’s librarian Lillian Smith. While Smith’s reports were interesting, I didn’t intended to write about them because Velma worked in a different department.

However, I kept coming back to the historical context for children’s library services. Of Velma’s direct descendants, only two are children now, my grandnephews James (10) and Liam (7). As Digital Natives who could swipe an iPhone before they could walk, they have instant access to information, their only challenge being to find it. As movie critic Roger Ebert so aptly put it:

Doing research on the Web is like using a library assembled piecemeal by pack rats and vandalized nightly.1

It then occurred to me that for the two generations following Velma’s, my mother’s and my own, our experiences with libraries were the same as hers. If we needed information that wasn’t in the family’s World Book Encyclopaedia, we had to go to the neighborhood library to look it up. If the information was in a book that wasn’t in the library’s holdings, we asked the librarian to order it through interlibrary loan.  Then we went home and waited.

James and Liam, on the other hand, go straight to Google. In order for them to understand and appreciate this young woman four generations removed from them who would become their great-great grandmother, they need the historical context for library services. They need to know that for much of the twentieth century, information was contained primarily in books and periodicals, which in turn were classified and catalogued according to a system, most commonly the Dewey Decimal System or the Library of Congress System. This was a logical and orderly world that appealed to Velma, and she felt very much at home there. She would never, ever have entertained the notion of “a library assembled piecemeal by pack rats and vandalized nightly.”

I therefore decided to write about children’s library services from the perspective of the historical context that would be most relevant for Digital Natives such as James and Liam to compare with their own experiences at the library. They will find similarities as well as differences!

Lillian Smith: A Champion for Children’s Literacy

I first encountered the name Lillian Smith on the back of one of Velma’s snapshots in The Family Archives. She was in charge of the Children’s Department at the time Velma was there. I went on to learn that Smith was the first professionally trained children’s librarian in the British Empire.2 In 1912, when she was twenty-five years old, the Toronto Public Library recruited her from the New York City Public Library.3  Her career with the Toronto Public Library would span a period of forty years and include many innovations in children’s librarianship.4 Her work extended beyond library walls to community outreach and leadership to provide children’s library services in the city’s schools and two settlement houses.5 From what I’ve read, she was a real dynamo, and the children of Toronto were fortunate to have her as their champion. A branch of the Toronto Public Library was later named for her.6

A Decrease in Book Circulation Due to Fear of Contagion

Smith noted in her annual report for 1919 that the Children’s Department had experienced an interruption of service when the library was forced to close for three weeks due to a smallpox epidemic.7 Curious, I went back a year, and sure enough, the library had closed for a time in response to the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918.8 Smith went on to note:

The decrease [in book circulation] is not only due to the closing of the Library, but also because so many parents have  prohibited their children from taking books after the epidemic through fear of contagion.9

The fear of contracting infectious disease through library books was widely enough held at the time to prompt the Ontario Library Review to publish the article “Library Books Rarely, If Ever, Carry Disease” by the Director of the Institute of Public Health, H. W. Hill. According to Dr. Hill, the belief that diseases such as tuberculosis and scarlet fever could be spread though surface contact even after time had passed since the initial contact by the infected person was based on a faulty analogy with anthrax.10

Google Search Note: Apparently that fear is still around today, if blog posts and message boards are any indication. However, Dear Children, before you demand that Mother microwave, freeze, or spray your library books with Febreeze, just remember to wash your hands before you eat, and you’ll be fine.

Story Hour

One of Lillian Smith’s major initiatives was the establishment of regularly-scheduled story hours at all of the city’s branch libraries to encourage reading. From 1919 – 1922, the number of story hours held increased 118%, from 34511 to 73512. The number of children participating rose 151%, from 15,35913 to 38,55014. The average number of children at each story hour was 45 in 1919 and 52 in 1922. The following photograph from the 1922 annual report is testament to the Story Hour’s popularity.

What Children Were Reading

In the Library’s 1919 report, Smith wrote that “stories of pioneer life and Canadian history, Greek heroes, King Arthur and Robin Hood have been told with great success.”15 For the older children, reading clubs were established to encourage a shift away from reading the popular fiction of the day to reading “standard and classic literature.”16

In 1917, Smith developed a list of approved books to encourage children’s reading, although in her introduction, she does note that the list contains some books of mediocre literary value:

These are included through having justified their place on our shelves as stepping-stones to the better kind of books, which are not always immediately appreciated by children who come from bookless homes, or who have been saturated with the vapid serial reading matter contained in the Alger and Elsie books.17

Vapid Serial Reading Matter

Approved for Children Under Ten

Approved for Children Over Ten

I will close by asking readers to comment on the photograph at the top of this post. The children are wearing winter coats and hats. Do you think their clothing indicates that the building was cold or that the photograph was staged? I can’t decide.


1quotegeek, accessed December 16, 2018, http://quotegeek.com/personalities/roger-ebert/10697/, originally appeared in “Critical Eye” column, Yahoo! Internet Life, September 1998.

2“Lillian H. Smith (1887-1983),” Toronto Public Library, accessed December 16, 2018, https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/about-the-library/library-history/lillian-h-smith.jsp.

3“Lillian H. Smith,” Toronto Public Library.

4“Lillian H. Smith,” Toronto Public Library.

5“Lillian H. Smith,” Toronto Public Library.

6“Lillian H. Smith,” Toronto Public Library.

7Lillian H. Smith, “Reports from the Departments: Children’s Department,” Toronto Public Library Thirty-Sixth Annual Report, 1919, 17.

8Lillian H. Smith, “Reports from Departments: The Children’s Department,” Toronto Public Library Thirty-Fifth Annual Report, 1918, 14.

9Smith, “Children’s Department, 1918” 14.

10H. W. Hill, M.B, D.P.H., “Library Books Rarely, If Ever, Carry Disease,” Ontario Library Review and Book Selection Guide I, no. 1 (June 1916): 7.

11Smith, “Children’s Department, 1919,” 18.

12Lillian H. Smith, “Reports from Departments: Boys’ and Girls’ Library,” Toronto Public Library Thirty-Ninth Annual Report, 1922, 22.

13Smith, “Children’s Department, 1919,” 18.

14Smith, “Boys’ and Girls’ Library,” 22.

15Smith, “Children’s Department, 1919,” 18.

16Smith, “Children’s Department, 1919,” 18.

17Lillian H. Smith, “A List of Approved Books for Boys and Girls,” excerpted from Ontario Library Review, August 1917, 2.

Image: “After School in the Children’s Room, Earlscourt Library,” Toronto Public Library Thirty-Seventh Annual Report, 1920, 16.

Image: “Waiting for the Story Hour, College Street Library,” Toronto Public Library Thirty-Eighth Annual Report, 1921, 10.

Book Cover Images: All book cover images are in the public domain, retrieved from Project Gutenberg.

In Search of Velma Brown [Moore]’s Toronto Days

Velma Jane Moore, Winifred Barnstead, Winnifred Reynolds in Toronto, 1921

Our Starting Point

I’m going to start the search for my grandmother’s Toronto days with my mother’s account:

I never knew that Velma lived in Toronto until I saw pictures of her Toronto days. I assume she went there after graduating from Dalhousie. An article in a New Brunswick local paper about Ronald [Brown] and Velma’s visit to Ronald’s Aunt Ann Worden during their honeymoon says that Velma was a graduate of Ontario University Library School. She then worked at the Toronto Public Library. A picture of her and the head of the department she worked in said 1919-1922 on the back. . . . I don’t know if those are the years she worked under the woman or the years she worked at the library. Velma attended a Bible class from 1920-1921. Velma had a very good friend, Winnifred Reid (married name) and fellow worker at the Library. Winnifred and her husband, Jim, ended up in Hamden, Connecticut, where Winnifred worked in the reference department of the Yale Library. They and Ronald and Velma visited back and forth through the years. I used to take Liz to visit them when we lived in New Haven. I don’t know when Velma left Toronto or if she spent time in Economy before going to the States.1

As you can see, there were significant periods of Velma’s life that her descendants knew nothing about until we had the opportunity to go through The Family Archives when my mother’s sister Margaret died in 2009.

Jim Reid, Baby Liz, Winnifred Reynolds Reid, Hamden, Connecticut, 1956

Leaving Economy

After Velma’s brief career as a teacher in Colchester County, Nova Scotia from September 1918 – June 19192, she was hired as an assistant in the Cataloguing Division of the Toronto Public Library in Ontario, the only assistant hired in 1919.3 At a distance of over 1,000 miles, the move from Economy to Toronto would have been no small undertaking for a young woman of twenty-two in 1919. Finishing the school year at Colchester West on June 30, 1919, she would have moved to Toronto sometime between July and December of that year.

The immediate question, of course is, why? Weren’t there libraries in Nova Scotia? With a little digging, I soon learned that Ontario was at the forefront of public library development in Canada at that time; Ontario was also at the forefront of library training, along with McGill University in Montreal.4

The Dalhousie Connection

Also in the frame are two Dalhousie University connections, which I suspect may have prompted the move to Toronto. The Winnifred Reid my mother mentions in her account of Velma’s Toronto days was Winnifred Reynolds before her marriage, one of Velma’s Dalhousie friends. Winnifred graduated from Dalhousie with the Class of 1919.5  She worked as a cataloguer at the Toronto Public Library from 1920-1922.6

Velma’s boss at the library, Winifred Barnstead, was also a Dalhousie University graduate, Class of 1906.7 In reading about the history of Canadian librarianship in the first part of the twentieth century, I discovered that Ms. Barnstead was a very influential figure.8 Velma learned from the best!

Winifred Barnstead, Velma’s Boss in the Cataloguing Department of the Toronto Public Library from 1919-1922

Winnifred Reynolds Reid

Winnifred’s critique in the Dalhousie Gazette shows her to have much in common with Velma; it’s easy to see how they would have been friends:

Stately and dignified, in cap and gown with a scroll in her hand, Winifred [sic] Reynolds will not be recognized by many. Quiet, but nevertheless possessing a deep sense of humor, Winnie was exceedingly well liked by those who knew her, but she was hard to get acquainted with. She took her studies seriously with good results.9

As my mother’s account indicates, Winnifred continued her career as a librarian. I found her listed in the 1955 edition of Who’s Who in Library Service10:

Winnifred retired in 1964 as the Head cataloger and Research Associate at the Yale Law School Library.11

More to come about Velma’s Toronto days! I’m also sorting through information about the public library system in Toronto that might be interest to other family historians looking for social context for ancestors who lived in Toronto in the early part of the twentieth century.


For additional information:

Oral history of Winifred Barnstead, recorded at the University of Toronto in 1974, the year she died: https://play.library.utoronto.ca/aUBKrGlYlUZY

Article describing Winifred’s Barnstead’s role in the establishment of librarianship education at the University of Toronto: https://www.exlibris.ca/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=wiki:newsletters:elan_special_summer_2004.pdf


1Kay Brown Gauffreau, “The Ancestry & Life of Velma Jane Moore Brown” (unpublished manuscript, December 2013), 25-26.

2E-mail from Harold Stewart, Little White Schoolhouse Museum, Truro, NS 11/19/17.

3Annual Report – Toronto Public Library, 33rd ed. (Toronto: Armac Press, 1920), 74.

4Mary Ellen Quinn, Historical Dictionary of Librarianship (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), 72.

5“Convocation,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 11, 12, 13 (July 11, 1919): 11.

6Dorothy Ethlyn Cole, ed., Who’s Who in Library Service: A Biographical Directory of Professional Librarians of the United States and Canada, 3rd ed. (New York: Grolier Society, 1955), 404.

7“History: Biographies,” Ex Libris Association, last modified February 10, 2016, accessed October 14, 2018, https://www.exlibris.ca/doku.php?id=history:biographies:barnstead_k.

8 Diane Henderson, “University of Toronto: Faculty of Information Studies,” ELAN: Ex Libris Association Newsletter, Summer 2004, 8-9.

9“Critique,” Dalhousie Gazette L, no. 11, 12, 13 (July 11, 1919): 7.

10Cole, Who’s Who in Library, 430.

11American Association of Law Libraries, Biographical Directory of Law Librarians in the United States and Canada (St. Paul, MN: West Pub., 1964), [snippet view accessed in Google Books].

Velma Was a Teacher After All!

Provincial Normal College, Truro, Nova Scotia, June 2018 – Velma Jane Moore is the third from the left.

After my grandmother Velma Jane Moore graduated from Dalhousie University in 1918, she trained as a librarian and worked in that capacity until her marriage to Ronald Dalrymple Brown in 1926. This was Velma’s early history as our family knew it.

When I inherited The Family Archives, I found a June 1918 photograph of Velma posing with a group of other young women outside of the Provincial Normal College in Truro, which led me to think she might have attended the Normal College prior to matriculating at Dalhousie.

In the summer of 2017, as my husband and I were preparing to make a trip to Economy, Nova Scotia to see where Velma had grown up, I learned that the Little White Schoolhouse Museum in Truro held the archival records of the Provincial Normal College. With photo in hand, I went to the museum, but the volunteers were unable to find any record of Velma’s having attended the Provincial Normal College. Here is a link to the blog post I wrote about my false assumption at that time: In Search of Velma Brown [MOORE]: Another Assumption, Another Rethink.

Upon our return home from Nova Scotia, I wanted to learn more about Velma’s education. What I found in the Nova Scotia provincial reports published in the Journal of Education challenged what our family thought we knew about her early life:1

As I came to learn, this listing indicates that Velma was paid $75. from the Provincial Treasury for working 102 days as a teacher in Colchester West.

I told my mother about what I’d found, and she insisted that Velma had never been a teacher. Perhaps she’d just trained as a teacher? I decided to e-mail the Little White Schoolhouse Museum:

I’m looking for information on my grandmother Velma Jane Moore’s training as a teacher.

I’ve discovered in the Nova Scotia Journal of Education 1918-1919 that she was awarded a Superior First Rank Diploma from Provincial Normal College in 1917-1918 (p.91) and a Teacher’s License, A Superior First in 1918 (p. 95). She graduated from Dalhousie University in 1918 with a BA in Biology with a minor in English.

The two questions I have is what the relationship was between Dalhousie University and the Provincial Normal College at that time and how I might be able to find out whether she actually worked as a teacher. (Her teaching credentials come as a complete surprise to her family!) We’d greatly appreciate any help you can give us.

Sincerely,
Liz Gauffreau

I received the following response with a week:

Hello, Elizabeth Gauffreau:

I am a volunteer at the Little White Schoolhouse Museum in Truro, Nova Scotia, and your e-mail requesting information on Velma Jane Moore was passed on to me.  I will try to answer your two questions.

(1)  I do not think that there was any special relationship directly between Dalhousie University and the Provincial Normal College in 1918.  In the 1917-1918 Register of the Provincial Normal College,  the first 24 transcripts are for students who had university degrees or had attended some university for at least three years.  These twenty-four had attended a variety of different universities.  It appears as if those who had a university degree needed to attend the Provincial Normal College only from May 5, 1918 to June 20, 1918 in order to earn a Diploma,  while those who did not have a degree but had attended a university for at least three years needed to attend Provincial Normal College from September to the Christmas break  in order to get a diploma. It seems as though this was a general rule no matter which university was attended.

(2)  Apparently she did teach for at least one year.  The Nova Scotia Journal of Education October 1919 (page 139), and the Nova Scotia Journal of Education April 1918 (page 13) both show that Velma J. Moore taught in Colchester West.  Between them they show that she taught 102 days from September, 1918 to January 31, 1919, and another 103 days from February to June 30, 1919.  The Journals do not tell which school she taught in, only that it was in Colchester West.  Her home community of Economy was in that area of Colchester County known as Colchester West.  We do not have the Nova Scotia Journal of Education for Sept. 1919 – June, 1920, but I could find no other reference to her in later Journals.

The Transcript for Velma Jane Moore is #18 in the 1917-1918 Register of the Provincial Normal College.  It shows a number of things, such as that she was a Presbyterian,  was 21 years old when she attended PNC,  she had a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Dalhousie University, and it was noted that she had a pleasant disposition and was conscientious and industrious.  Elsewhere in the Register it mentions that she lived at the house of Mrs. Robinson Cox in Bible Hill while attending PNC;  this may have been quite a daily walk for her in order to attend classes.  If you would like to have a photocopy of her transcript, please e-mail me  your complete name and mailing address exactly as it should appear on the envelope, and I will send you the Transcript by Canada Post.  Please send your name and address to me at . . . if you want a copy, as I do most of this work from home on my home computer.  Thanks!

I hope that this information is useful and interesting to you.

Harold Stewart,  Volunteer
Little White Schoolhouse Museum
P.O. Box 25005
Truro    NS    B2N 7B8

A huge thanks goes to Mr. Stewart for filling in this year of Velma’s life. The Family Archives now include a copy of her Provincial Normal College diploma.


1Province of Nova Scotia, “Being the Semi-Annual Supplement to the Report of the Superintendent of Education for Nova Scotia,” supplement, Journal of Education, 3rd ser., IX, nos. 1918-19 (April 1918): 91, 99, 139, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112106949099;view=1up;seq=239.