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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian: Newspaper Records by Ryan Taylor. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Bibliographies of Historical Newspapers
All provinces have listings of historical newspapers. These are vital for genealogical researchers because they provide us with a list of the possible newspapers we can consult, with listings of locations (libraries/archives) which own copies of the papers, and often with other information about them. Some of the bibliographies (such as that for Alberta) include biographical information about publishers and editors, and there may also be histories detailing the development of newspapers in a particular area, which we can use to determine which newspaper is the most appropriate for our research.
There are these listings of French-language publications outside Québec:
- Répertoire des journaux, bulletins et revues de l’Amérique française hors Québec. Québec: Sécretariat permanent des peuples francophones, 1983-1985. Annual.
- Répertoire des journaux et périodiques courants de langue française ou bilingues publiés au Canada à l’exception du Québec: supplément, mise à jour, 1994, sous la direction d’Albert Lévesque. Association des responsables des bibliothèques et centres de documentation universitaires et de recherche d’expression française au Canada, 1994.
These are the provincial lists:
Gloria M. Strathern. Alberta newspapers, 1880-1982: an historical directory. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1988.
George Allan Affleck.Paper trails: a history of British Columbia and Yukon community newspapers. Vancouver: Arch Communications, 1999.
Hana Komorous. Union Catalogue of British Columbia Newspapers. Microfiche edition. Vancouver: British Columbia Library Association, 1987. An online version is available at http://toby.library.ubc.ca/resources/infopage.cfm?id=199. The original version was in three volumes: v.1. title listing; v.2. place listing; v.3. type of newspaper. It lists ethnic and Native newspapers in languages other than English. Includes a list of indexed newspapers, locales, names of editors and publishers.
British Columbia newspapers: register of microform masters. Vancouver: British Columbia Library Association, 1987. Also available in a microfiche edition; compiled as part of the British Columbia Newspapers Project.
Ruell Smith. Canadian newspapers in the University of British Columbia Library. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Library, 1974. There is no newer version.
Guide to British Columbia newspaper collections. 1988. [Somewhat rare, but a copy is available in the Special Collections area of the Vancouver Public Library.]
Manitoba D. M. Loveridge. A historical directory of Manitoba newspapers, 1859-1978. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1981.
A. M. Pratt. The story of Manitoba’s weekly newspapers. Winnipeg: Manitoba Weekly Newspapers Association, 1968?
New Brunswick Helen Craig and Muriel Daniel. New Brunswick newspapers directory, 1783-1996 = Répertoire des journaux du Nouveau-Brunswick. 2nd edition. Council of Head Librarians of New Brunswick, 1996.
J. Russell Harper. Historical directory of New Brunswick newspapers and periodicals. University of New Brunswick, 1961.
Newfoundland & Labrador Suzanne Ellison. Bibliography of Newfoundland newspapers. St. John’s: Memorial University of Newfoundland Library, 1985.
Suzanne Ellison. Historical directory of Newfoundland and Labrador newspapers, 1806-1996. St. John’s: Queen Elizabeth II Library (MUN), 1997.
Nova Scotia Gertrude E. N. Tratt. A survey and listing of Nova Scotia newspapers, 1752-1957, with particular reference to the period before 1867. Halifax: Dalhousie University, 1979.
Lynn Murphy. Nova Scotia newspapers: a directory and union list, 1752-1988. Halifax: School of Library and Information Studies, Dalhousie University, 1990.
A union list of Nova Scotia newspapers compiled by the Blue Pond Collaborative. 1987. This is difficult to find, but the National Library has a copy.
Thomas Brewer Vincent. An historical directory of Nova Scotia newspapers and journals before Confederation. Kingston, Ontario: Royal Military College of Canada, 1977.
Ontario J. Brian Gilchrist. Inventory of Ontario newspapers, 1793-1986. Toronto: Micromedia, 1987.
Prince Edward Island Heather Boylan. Checklist and historical directory of Prince Edward Island newspapers, 1787-1986. Charlottetown: Public Archives and Record Office, 1987.
Québec André Beaulieu and Jean Hamelin. La presse québécoise: des origines à nos jours. Québec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 1973-1990. (10 v.; earlier version published under the title: Les journaux du Québec de 1764 à 1964, 1965).
Saskatchewan Christine MacDonald. Historical directory of Saskatchewan newspapers, 1878-1983. Regina: Saskatchewan Archives Board, 1984.
Albert-O. Dubé. La voix du peuple: l’histoire populaire de la presse écrite fransaskoise. Regina: Société historique de la Saskatchewan, 1993.
Yukon See Affleck listing above under British Columbia.
A checklist of Yukon newspapers is available in the Yukon Archives reading room. It includes newspapers from cities elsewhere concerned with the gold rush as well as local publications.
Online listings are proliferating, and in the future may be an even better place to look. One word of warning: they are only as good as their compilers, and when consulting them, consider where the information you are using came from. The fact that you did not find the reference you want on the internet does not mean it doesn’t exist. At present, the book-form listings have more authority.
Since the provincial archives or legislature libraries all have large newspaper collections (and often can refer researchers to other connected institutions who have other materials), it can be useful to examine their websites to see if there is a newspaper catalogue there.
For example, the British Columbia Archives has a catalogue on their website. They collect newspapers for all of BC except for modern Vancouver and Victoria, whose papers are deemed to be sufficiently available elsewhere. They also have vertical files of clippings. A list of these institutions’ websites will be found in a later module.
Another use of the website is to determine if the provincial archives has a collection policy which restricts what researchers can find there. For example, the Archives of Ontario newspaper collection largely stops at 1930; researchers looking for more modern newspapers will need to look elsewhere.
Summaries of the history of a newspaper or newspapers in a given town, can often be found in local sources. These may be more detailed than any province-wide volume and are very valuable. A good example is “A chronological summary of newspapers in Fort William,” published in Past Tents , the local Ontario Genealogical Society journal. It lists papers by name (with variant mastheads given), dates of first and last issue, frequency and format. This last is a most unusual inclusion. Ask a local librarian if such a list exists for your area of interest.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Canadian: Newspaper Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.