Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada

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Helen Creighton

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Archival Description

Helen Creighton fonds

[ca. 1850 - ca. 1990] , predominant [ca. 1928 - ca. 1987].

12.6 m of textual records and other material.

Helen Creighton was an author and pioneer in the field of folklore, both nationally and internationally. Born Mary Helen Creighton on 5 September 1899 in Dartmouth, N.S., she was the daughter of Charles and Alice (nee Terry) Creighton. She graduated from Halifax Ladies College in 1916, was a driver with the Royal Flying Corps in Toronto, 1918 and an ambulance driver for the Red Cross Caravan in Nova Scotia, 1920. She trained in social work at the University of Toronto until 1923, when she travelled to Mexico and taught school in Guadalajara. Her broadcasting career began in 1926 as ‘Aunt Helen' on CHNS Radio. She began collecting folklore in 1928. Her first publication based on her findings was Songs and Ballads from Nova Scotia (1932). In all, she authored 13 books of folk songs, ballads, and stories. She served as Dean of Women at King's College, 1939 to 1941, and attended the Institute of Folklore at the University of Indiana, 1942. She compiled Maritime folklore and folk music for the National Museum of Canada, 1947-1965. Her final publication was Fleur de Rosier (1989). Her works have been the source for symphonies, operas, musical theatre productions, films, a ballet, and many recordings by professional artists. She received numerous awards for her achievements, including Distinguished Folklorist of 1981, six honorary doctorates, Fellow of the American Folklore Society, Honorary Life President of the Canadian Authors' Association, Order of Canada, and the Queen's Medal. She died in Dartmouth in 1989.

Helen Creighton deposited portions of her material over a fifty year period beginning in the 1930s before it was formally donated in 1987. Subsequent accruals occurred in 1990 following the settlement of her estate, and in 1995 from the estate of her nephew, Jake Creighton, who had acquired the last of her records and stored them at his residence in Dartmouth.

Fonds consists of textual records, graphic material, sound recordings, and moving images created and accumulated by Helen Creighton documenting her private life and professional career as folklorist and author. The fonds includes an extensive collection of folk songs and folk tales which Creighton actively acquired over a sixty year period, and which document the diverse ethnic groups and cultural traditions of Nova Scotia and also New Brunswick. Fonds consists of three series:
1 Photographs depicting Creighton's life and career;
2 Sound recordings and moving images made and accumulated by Creighton; and
3 Correspondence and other material.

Previously known as the Helen Creighton collection.

Includes 2788 b&w and col. prints, 1045 negatives, 20 glass slides, 7 drawings, 1 print, 552 audio tape reels, 307 audio discs, 15 audio cassettes, 4 audio cartridges, 4 cylinder recordings, 4 video cassettes, and 3 film reels.

Material in English, French, Gaelic, Mi'kmaq, German.

Series descriptions available.

The Library of Congress and Canadian Museum of Civilization have related material resulting from projects they have sponsored.

Material relating to Creighton's career and projects to which she contributed are found in the CBC, Atlantic Region fonds and Nova Scotia Information Service fonds.

The Helen Creighton fonds consists of three series and multiple files and items. Below are a search template and a navigation tool that links to the fonds, series and lists. Search the database to view file lists or click on one of the navigation levels.



photographs sound recordings textual records