A Bibliography of Manitoba Local History, Second Edition (1989)
edited by Christopher Hackett
In 1976, the Manitoba Historical Society published Local History in Manitoba: A Key to Places, Districts, Schools and Transportation Routes. Since that time there has continued to be an effort to document the history of localities, school districts and churches. Continuing on from the work of the previous History Committee, Gertrude Perrin indexed many of the local histories produced up to 1983. Kay Gillespie has been indexing Manitoba publications for a bibliography which has appeared periodically in the Society’s journal, Manitoba History.
We resolved to update the original publication, and to that end purchased indexing software and began the task of coding entries for the new publication. The Legislative Library had, at the same time, begun the task of attempting to list local history publications held in the regional libraries. We are grateful to Sue Bishop and the staff at the library for the cooperation which they gave to make this listing as complete as possible. Jack Bumsted offered the services of a student from the Department of History, University of Manitoba to search the listings in that library for their holdings and we would like to thank him and Sam Garcea for their contribution.
The coding was begun by John Welfly and the computer listing and preparation for printing was completed by Christopher Hackett. We thank John and Chris for their conscientious work on the project. We would also like to thank Gertrude Perrin for proof reading the final list of citations. The cooperation of the staff, Betty Somers, Jane Staunton and Carol Barbee, have been much appreciated during the rather complicated process of publishing the completed bibliography. Finally, it is important to note that this project was made possible by a grant from the Manitoba Heritage Foundation, Inc.
Rosemary Malaher, President
The first problem to be solved before developing a list or bibliography on any subject is that one must have a clear definition of what is to be collected before sorting through the great mass of published and unpublished material available. Local history presents special problems in setting such limits. Most people have definitions they use which they assume are generally agreed upon but which contain subtle but important distinctions. Questions abound for the bibliographer. Is local history a strictly amateur affair with anything written by professionals excluded as being “real” or “academic” history? Does a work need to be written by someone who is geographically or genetically linked to be true local history or can anyone produce such a work? Does the term local history apply only to geographical boundaries or can it also refer to geographically dispersed communities such as ethnic groups?
Happily, there are published definitions to turn to in sorting out the problem. Carol Kammen, an American local historian and historiographer, aggressively defends the role of the local historian. Rejecting artificial distinctions between amateur and professional local historians, she argues that such arbitrary distinctions are generally used to the detriment of the amateur historian. (Kammen, pp. 1-4. For a complete citation see “Works of Assistance in Writing Local Histories in Manitoba” at the end of the introduction to this book.) A little later in her work she presents a sweeping definition of the topic, saying that “local history is despite its limited geographical focus, a broad field of inquiry: it is the political, social, and economic history of a community, and religious and intellectual history too.” (Kammen, p. 5) Inherent in Kammen’s discussion is a belief that local history requires a sense of place, a link between subject and writer not necessarily found in other forms of history. Dr. Gerald Friesen and Barry Potyondi, in a sister publication to the present work, suggest that this is a defining characteristic of local history:
For the present work we have used a definition which relied upon that sense of community. For our purposes, local history is any work produced by any writer seeking to explore and discuss any local community of which they feel themselves to be a part. Because of this we have included academic works in with amateur and popular histories where it was felt that link existed. Geographically, the outside limits were set as the boundaries of the Province of Manitoba as well as specific points within it. This definition allowed the inclusion not only of traditional works covering towns, rural municipalities, churches, schools etc. but also those dealing with ethnic and religious groups and province wide associations. Thus, Manitoba communities in the fullest sense of the word are represented in this book.
Having solved the problem of selection, another reared its head. The aim of this book is to provide not only a list of works on local history but also a guide to works which could provide information to future local historians. This necessitated expanding the bibliography to include works which fell outside of the agreed upon definition of local history. Added were works contemporary with events they describe, theses and other research papers, a wider range of academic works which address localities or groups and municipal, provincial and federal books and pamphlets which have some relevance to the topic. These works were treated with some care and only where they were deemed to have significant relevance to a place, group or institution were they included. Some thought was given to the availability of such citations in existing bibliographies and commonly cited works were kept to a minimum. This is especially true of the City of Winnipeg and other subjects which have extensive bodies of literature concerning them. In several cases only representative samples of this supporting literature, arbitrarily selected by the editor, were included. Much more leniency was shown with theses and research papers than with other academic works as the former more often meet the definition of local history, are a ready source of bibliographic information and are less often listed in other bibliographies. A consideration was also given to collecting sources appropriate to a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, from school children through to professionals.
The resulting book is one that should prove useful to all persons interested in history in Manitoba. It is, however, not perfect. It was produced through the efforts of a number of people working independently over several years, producing lists for reasons often other than this bibliography. There has been little time to do research beyond those lists. Because of this there are no doubt many omissions and errors. When reading or using this book try to think of yourself as contributing to an ongoing project and instead of abusing the stupidity of a faceless (or worse, not faceless) editor, phone the Historical Society offices and bring the problem to our attention so that it can be rectified in future editions. The same is true if you write a local history. If you let us know we can contribute to bringing it to the attention of the interested public.
Writing Local History
The writing of local histories is a rich and rewarding hobby which confers great benefits on the local community and the Province. Although many are one shot affairs produced in commemoration of an anniversary or special event, many others are part of a life-long interest. The results of local history research are many and varied, from the books, articles and papers listed in this bibliography through to plays, museums, public presentations, plaques and anything else of which the imagination can conceive. As Kammen points out, topics are virtually unlimited and need not be concerned with trying to relate the entire history of a community in every work. Researchers are free to concentrate on sports, business, agriculture, politics, religion, the military, crime or anything else they can find information on. The more skills the researcher acquires in research, analysis and presentation of the material, the more horizons that will open and the more enjoyable will be the experience.
In order to facilitate the entry of Manitobans into the community of local historians, the Society has produced a series of publications which would be of use to a local history enthusiast. Aside from this book and the already discussed Friesen and Potyondi book, two new works are planned. The first of these is an index of the Transactions of the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba, Manitoba Pageant and Manitoba History. The second is a workshop which will provide a quick and painless introduction to researching and writing local history. In addition to these works, there are an extraordinary number of others produced by such groups as the American Association for State and Local History and the Ontario Historical Society. Budding local historians should try to read through them as widely as possible to learn skills and to acquire different perspectives on a variety of important procedural topics. At the same time, they should read books from this bibliography and other Manitoba bibliographies to find out what topics interest them and what areas need exploration. It should be remembered that simply because a topic has been studied in the past doesn’t mean that it can’t be studied again from a different perspective or in light of new information. Local historians are limited only by their imagination.
How to Use This Guide
Users of the first edition will notice that this book is substantially different in format. The main body of the work is composed of two lists of numbered citations, one for communities around Manitoba and the other for the city of Winnipeg. Both lists are numbered and listed alphabetically by author or, if no author’s name was available, by title. Following the Manitoba list are two indexes, one by geography and the other by subject. The Winnipeg list, being much shorter, is followed by a single index incorporating both geography and subject. Each of the index terms is followed by the appropriate citation numbers from its particular list. Geographical communities are obviously listed under the geographical index. More dispersed communities, such as ethnic groups, are listed under the subject index. It is important to note that an artificial distinction has been made with those ethnic groups where religion is a vital distinguishing factor. They have been labelled as religious groups in order to reduce the number of double references to ethnicity and religion in the index. At the time of writing this included only references to Jews, Mennonites and Hutterites. Therefore, to locate a particular ethnic group in the indexes, look under Ethnic Groups—[the appropriate group]; to locate one of the three religious groups, look under Religious Groups—[the appropriate group].
Some works will be listed under several different headings in the indexes as they contain significant references to several different subjects or communities. For example, in Harry and Mildred Gutkin’s The Worst of Times, The Best of Times: Growing Up in Winnipeg’s North End, two communities overlap, Winnipeg’s north end and Jews in Manitoba. Both topics in the index will direct the reader to that book.
Indexes should not be treated as exhaustive. This book has been prepared primarily from lists taken from a variety of sources, some of which provided more detail than others. Rather than take a lowest common denominator approach it was decided to give the reader as much information as we possessed and to let them use their imagination, intuition and research skills to explore the less stringently indexed works. In other words, just because a locality or subject does not appear in the index as being covered in a particular work doesn’t mean that that work doesn’t have any information on the topic. The subject index, for example, generally required a substantial part of the work to be on a topic before it was indexed using that term. Topics such as business, agriculture, churches etc. are staples of most local histories and are covered far more often than the indexes would suggest. It is hoped that subsequent editions of this book will contain more exhaustive indexes, but in the meantime the present index is a more than adequate starting point.
Due to the peculiarities of the computer program used to organize the bibliography, there are some anomalies in the way that the lists and the indexes are alphabetized. For the lists of citations the computer ignores definite articles in sorting. Thus, for The Pas the The is ignored and the citation appears under P. For the indexes, definite articles are treated as part of the term or name. Thus, The Pas is listed under T. As well, the program has trouble distinguishing between similar long corporate authors’ names such as Rural Municipalities and government departments. While this problem could have been rectified, the solution would have caused confusion in the indexing and it was felt that a few examples of alphabetic confusion were preferable to the chaos sorting them out would bring. Therefore, when looking for works which have authors’ names which begin, for example, Rural Municipality of XXX, be prepared to look through the entire list of Rural Municipality of’s to find the work your interested in. This affects only a small number of citations and should not prove to be any great detraction from the use of the bibliography.
One final point should be noted. Because of the sheer volume of material that they contain which is relevant to this bibliography, works published in the journals of the Manitoba Historical Society are not listed as it was feared that they would overwhelm the other sources, reducing the value of the indexes. They will, however, be available in a separate list shortly after the publication of this book.
Locating a Work in Libraries around the Province
Thanks to the kind assistance of Susan Bishop, Provincial Librarian; Paul Neilson, Head of Technical Services for the Legislative Library; Leslie Castling, librarian, Legislative Library; and several other librarians in the Province, we have been able to vastly increase the usefulness of the bibliography by including a list of known repositories for each work. For this edition we have only been able to do complete surveys on the holdings of the Legislative Library, City of Winnipeg Library, the University of Manitoba Library, the University of Winnipeg Library and the library in the offices of the Manitoba Historical Society. In addition to this, partial surveys have been done of some regional libraries. It is hoped that for subsequent editions we will be able to expand this to include more repositories around the Province. The University of Brandon Library has already indicated an interest in taking part in the next edition.
If a book you want is not in a library near you, you may be able to obtain it through inter-library loan. (This is not true of the Manitoba Historical Society library. It is open to members who wish to come to the offices to use the books.) Journal articles and newspapers are not coded. Your librarian should be able to help you locate a journal or newspaper. Theses are available by inter-library loan from the issuing University, often on microfilm or microfiche, and are only coded when they are available from an additional source.
Works of Assistance in Writing Local Histories in Manitoba
This is only a partial list designed to give interested parties a place to begin their background reading. There are a great many further titles which could be of use and the Historical Society can suggest works on particular topic.
Page revised: 14 February 2010Back to top of page