________________ CM . . . . Volume III Number 14 . . . . March 14, 1997
CM Feature

"Brother Can You Spare a Dime?":
Getting the Inside Story on the Depression in Manitoba.

An Archival Edukit. Includes VHS videotape, facsimile documents, photographs, 2 audio cassettes and teacher's guide.
John Einarson and the Association for Manitoba Archives.
ISBN: 0-9693431-3-2.

Feature by Martha McLeod and Ian Stewart.

The Association for Manitoba Archives (AMA), John Einarson, and countless volunteers have completed a unique hands-on resource for Manitoba's Senior 3 (grade eleven) Canadian history students. After a nine year effort, their archival education kit, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?": Getting the Inside Story on the Depression in Manitoba, is now ready for distribution and will be sent free of charge to every secondary school in the province of Manitoba during March and April, 1997.

      Archival education kits have been used extensively in Britain for many years and more recently in Australia, but the AMA has taken the leading role in producing a valuable resource for Canadian students. The AMA's "Edukit" introduces students to archives and primary archival materials by using facsimiles of depression era records that reach back into the real-life experiences of Manitoba's urban and rural populations. These records include a variety of photographs, official government documents, private papers, newspaper clippings, a map, and two audio tapes.

      John Einarson, who teaches at St. John's Ravenscourt in Winnipeg, has written a comprehensive teacher's guide. The guide estimates that two weeks would be needed to complete the six units in the package. In addition, introductory activities areincluded so that students are prepared to approach the historical documents analytically. Also, an AMA video, Archives: the Inside Story (1988), introduces students to basic archival concepts, describes how the various departments of a large modern archives function, demonstrates how to use archival resources, and touches on the wide range of archives and archival resources found in Manitoba.

      Five of the six units in the package relate to specific Depression Era topics:

The units have been created with an ascending degree of difficulty and complexity; the students move from individual concerns into the dynamic tensions inherent in a society in crisis. A sixth unit is designed to stimulate a group investigative project and utilizes the skills and knowledge the students have acquired through using the kit. As well, the guide includes an appendix, "How to Tackle a Document," a document source listing, and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

      Mr. Einarson deserves a great deal of credit for his well-rounded selection of rural and urban documents. Certainly this must have been a very difficult task considering the hundreds from which he had to choose. There will be debates over some choices and oversights. This is to be expected and desired; after all, history is created through point-of-view, choice and personality, not through the discovery of objective reality.

      This "Edukit" is a starting point for further projects. Mr. Einarson and the AMA have provided a working model that can be modified and expanded by students and teachers exploring their own interests in any area of the Great Depression or any topic in Manitoba history. Social studies teachers who tested the format in classrooms say that the kit made the Depression come alive for their students, and, at province wide conferences, the kit has been extremely well received.

      Now that students know the wealth of primary materials available on Manitoba history and how to use them, hopefully, they will become active participants in the doing of history and "boldly go to where no one has gone before."

Martha McLeod is a graduate student in the Masters of Archival Studies Program at the University of Manitoba and is company archivist at Great West Life. Ian Stewart has a M.A. in history from the University of Manitoba, is a frequent contributor to CM, and works at Lord Nelson School in Winnipeg.

NOTE: Libraries outside of Manitoba which are interested in this product should fax the AMA office at (204) 942-3492.

Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364