Historical Resources for Researching Teachers and School Administrators


This page was created originally to assist students at Malaspina University-College and the University of Victoria, but the information here may also be helpful for researchers at other universities and colleges, and for teachers and students in provincial secondary schools.

Most of the government publications and reference works cited below are available in university and college libraries and in major public libraries. Researchers in smaller communities may be able to request some of these works through inter-library loan services.

Secondary Sources

1. Who's Who

Begin by checking a reference work entitled Who's Who in Who's Who (1991). This work was compiled by R. Dale McIntosh and published by the Public History Group at the University of Victoria. It indexes individuals who have been included in various biographical compendiums, such as Who's Who in British Columbia.

Biographical compendiums, such as Who's Who in British Columbia, Who's Who in Canada, and Who Was Who, are available in the Reference sections of most major libraries in British Columbia.

2. Biographical Dictionaries

Standard reference works, such as The Macmillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography, the multi-volume Dictionary of Canadian Biography, the Canadian Encyclopedia, and the Oxford Companion to Canadian History and Literature are useful and are readily available.

3. Electoral Histories and Parliamentary Guides

If your subject was elected to the Provincial Legislature, be sure to indicate when he/she held office and to identify the electoral constituency that he/she represented. This information is available in Canadian Parliamentary Guides and in the Electoral History of British Columbia, 1871 - 1986, published by the British Columbia Legislative Assembly.

For information on the dates of office of cabinet ministers, see Judith Antonik Bennett, British Columbia Executive Council Appointments, 1871 -1986 (Victoria: British Columbia Legislative Library, 1989).

Details on provincial elections, members of the Legislative Assembly, and cabinet appointments for the period 1871 - 1975, are also available in the Annual Reports of the Provincial Secretary (1972 - 1975).

4. Newspapers, Newspaper Indexes & Vertical Files

Contemporary newspapers are a valuable source of information for biographers. Newspapers often carried notices about births, marriages, deaths and career milestones of teachers and school administrators. Microfilm copies of newspapers from around the province are available in the Microforms Room of the McPherson Library.

Microfilm copies of the principal Victoria and Vancouver newspapers are also available in many public libraries and in most university and university-college libraries.

A card file index - covering the Victoria Daily Colonist and other major provincial newspapers for the period c. 1858-1895 is available on microfiche at the British Columbia Archives. A copy of this microfiche index is also available in the Malaspina University-College Library [AI 21 B78].

The card file index also incorporates an index to the Archives' defunct Vertical Files. The Vertical Files contain obituaries, newspaper cuttings and miscellaneous research notes. The Vertical Files have been microfilmed and are available in the Reference Room of the British Columbia Archives in Victoria and in the Malaspina University-College Library.

Although the Vertical Files are veritable "gold mines" in terms of information, they are somewhat idiosyncratic and indexes to them may be confusing. Researchers should consult the Guide to Using the Vertical Files for hints on searching and accessing these valuable records.

The British Columbia Legislative Library newspaper index will also be useful. This index is available on 16 mm. microfilm for the period 1900-1980 [36 reels], and 1981-1990 [16 reels]. Most major libraries have a copy of this index.

5. Annual Reports of the Public Schools

The Annual Reports of the Public Schools for the years 1872 to 1945 contain information on teachers' salaries, qualifications, and teaching appointments. These government publications also include reports from school inspectors and senior administrators and, on occasion, notices of retirements and obituaries of departmental officials.

The Annual Reports of the Public Schools are available in hard copy and on microfilm in most universities and university-colleges and in many public libraries in British Columbia.

6. The BC Teacher

The BC Teacher is the official organ of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation (1919). The magazine often included notices of honours and appointments, biographical sketches of school officials, retirement notices, and obituaries of BCTF members.

Copies of the BC Teacher from the mid-1920s onwards are located at L13 B15 in the McPherson Library.

7. Other Published Sources & Background Information

For a survey of the development of the public school system in British Columbia up to the 1960s, consult F. Henry Johnson, A History of Public Education in British Columbia (1964).

For information on the organization and administrative structure of the Department of Education, and an overview of specialized educational programs up to the 1950s, consult Patrick A. Dunae, The School Record. A Guide to Government Archives relating to education in British Columbia, 1852-1946 (1992).

For references to other scholarly works, consult the Bibliography on The Homeroom.

Primary Sources

British Columbia Archives

The largest collection of material relating to the history of British Columbia is held by the British Columbia Archives (formerly known as the Provincial Archives) in Victoria. The Archives is located at 655 Belleville Street, across from the Parliament Buildings and close to the Royal British Columbia Museum.

Archival records -- private manuscripts, government records, photographs., films, sound recordings, paintings, architectural drawings, prints, etc. -- are accessible through the Archives' Reference Room (tel. 387-1952).

Researchers must register in person (between 9:30 a.m. & 4: 30 p.m., Monday to Friday) at the Archives before they can consult archival holdings.

Once registered, researchers may consult the collections during opening hours -- 9:30 to 4:00 -- and may reserve material for use on evenings and weekends. However, students should be aware that there are no retrieval services between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., so if you want to utilize material over the lunch hour, be sure to submit your call slip before 11:30 in the morning. Also note that there are no reference services on the third Wednesday of every month!

City of Victoria Archives

The City of Victoria Archives is located at #8 Centennial Square [tel. 361-0375]. The City Archives holds a number of schools-related records, including reports of the Victoria School Board and photographs and plans for some district schools. The City of Victoria Archives also holds an extensive and well-indexed collection of obituary notices from the Victoria Daily Colonist and the Victoria Daily Times.  The Archives is open from 9:30 a.m. to noon, and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

School District 61 (Greater Victoria) Educational Heritage Archives & Museum

A collection of archives and artifacts has been preserved in SD 61 [Greater Victoria] Educational Heritage Archives & Museum, located in the annex adjacent to South Park School. The collection is maintained by volunteers and is open by appointment to researchers.

Vital Statistics

Basic information concerning provincial births, deaths and marriages is available on-line via the British Columbia Archives' Internet site at the Vital Events web page.

The Vital Events web page provides information on deaths registered between 1872 and 1981, marriages (1972-1926) and births (1872-1901). Microfilm copies of the records themselves are available in the British Columbia Archives Reference Room on Belleville Street.

Prepared by Dr. Patrick A. Dunae