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From Aalborg to Zip: A Look at the Library’s Biography Clippings Files

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 841

Newspaper Office, Daysland Alberta

Postcards from the Past, PC 841

Newspaper articles are a great resource when conducting genealogical and historical research. Not only can newspaper articles be a source of biographical information for a specific person - such as his or her date of birth or death, marital status, or profession - but they can also provide a snapshot of the public opinion of that person at a specific point in time.

It is very easy to search for newspaper articles from The Calgary Herald in Canadian Newsstand (an electronic database available through Calgary Public Library’s E-Library). Simply enter the name of the person you are researching into the search box and the database will retrieve relevant full-text articles. Unfortunately newspaper articles published prior to 1988 are not indexed in this database, which means that researchers looking for older articles need to manually scroll through the library’s collection microfilmed copies of The Calgary Herald (August 31, 1883 - current) to find relevant articles. However, if you are looking for newspaper articles on a notable person (for example, a sports figure, an artist, a businessperson, etc.) from Calgary or Southern Alberta, I would recommend checking the library’s biography clippings files collection.

We are in the process of adding records for the biography clippings files to the library catalogue, so I have had the chance to look through the files to see the wealth of information that can be gleaned about a person from newspaper articles. For instance, did you know that former Prime Minister Richard Bedford Bennett had a sweet-tooth? According to “The Death of A Great Canadian,” an article which appeared in the June 28, 1947 edition of The Calgary Herald, Bennett was so fond of candy that “when doctors advised cutting down his consumption of candy, he took to hiding chocolates in drawers, filing cabinets, and behind books on the bookshelves, where conscientious secretaries wouldn’t find and confiscate the forbidden sweets.” The biography files are also extremely useful when a formal biography has not been written on a person. For example, I wanted to know more about Nelson Skalbania, the man who brought the Flames hockey team to Calgary, but no formal biography has been written about him; I was able to learn more about his business dealings through the articles in his biography file though.

You can search for biography files in the library catalogue by entering the name of the person you are looking for and the phrase PAM FILE i.e. Hansen AND PAM FILE. We have not yet gotten the chance to enter in all of the biography clippings files, so do not worry if you cannot find a file for a well-known person from Calgary or Southern Alberta in the catalogue: we most likely have one! Please come visit us at the Reference Desk on the 4th Floor (Humanities) at the Central Library, we have a master list of biography clippings files that we can check for you. We would love to help you with your questions!

I hope that you take advantage of this great resource; you never know what you could discover about a notable person from the newspaper articles in his/her biography clippings file!


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