Nova Scotia Archives

Helen Creighton: Folklife

Helen Creighton was devoted to gathering stories, songs and traditions from communities throughout Nova Scotia and beyond. These were stories often overlooked by ‘serious’ studies - the small stories, the folk songs, the images and memories of everyday life and everyday people – the folklife.

We invite you to immerse yourself in Creighton’s exceptional body of work. In listening, reading and exploring this resource, you can experience Nova Scotia folk in a uniquely full way.

How to Use

Users can choose to search Helen Creighton: Folklife in its entirety, or narrow their search by selecting sound recordings, photographs and albums, and/or textual records. Try searching keywords, topics, or communities and see what you can discover.

Language Note

While exploring Folklife, users should remain aware that the resource preserves titles and categories supplied by Helen Creighton, as creator of the records, as is common in archival practice. The recordings Creighton made are very much ‘of their time’ and have not been edited. Contemporary users may find some language outdated or problematic.

Photographs and Albums

In this section of the resource, you can look through photographs depicting life from the mid 1800s into the late 1900s. They are images of people from whom Helen collected audio recordings, as well as friends and family.

Textual Records

The textual records of Helen Creighton reflect both her professional work and personal life. In this section of the resource you can read lyrics, sheet music, research and field notes that Helen used in her collection work, as well as diaries where she kept track of day-to-day activities.

We have done extensive digitization of the textual records in the Helen Creighton collection, but this is not everything. Some records remain only available on site at Nova Scotia Archives. Further digitization is possible, but for now interested users should check the full file list available with the archival description.

Sound Recordings

At the center of Helen Creighton’s work was her process of collecting audio recordings. In this section of the resource you can experience everything from local anecdotes to music hall jam sessions. Supporting these recordings are collector’s notes from Helen and her researchers, as well as added information from the processing archivist have been provided.

Interested in a particular style of folk song or type of story? Helen often assigned a genre term to her recordings. Choose a genre below to listen.

Interested in recordings in a particular language? Helen recorded people singing and speaking in multiple languages. Language terms were assigned by Creighton herself. Choose a language below to listen:

Interested in recordings with a particular instrument? Helen recorded people playing and signing with multiple instruments. Instrument solos and/or accompaniment were assigned by Creighton herself. Choose an instrument below to listen:

Helen Creighton: Folklife - launch event 15 August 2023

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