Helen Creighton was a Canadian folklorist who collected songs, stories, and myths, mostly from her home province of Nova Scotia. And Creighton Barrett (name is purely a coincidence) is the Digital Archivist for the Dalhousie University Archives who has been researching Helen Creighton’s work since he was a music student at Acadia University in 2004.
This year, Creighton received three grants to support his current research project, entitled: Investigation of Sponsorship, Copyright, and Intellectual Property Issues Surrounding Helen Creighton’s Folk Song Recordings. In early 2014, he received a $1,000 Collaborative Research and Innovation Grant from the Council of Atlantic University Libraries (CAUL) and a $2,000 travel grant from the Rockefeller Archive Center Grant-in-Aid program. Creighton spent the travel grant on a trip to Sleepy Hollow, New York, to visit the Rockefeller Archive Center. In October 2014, he was awarded a $3,500 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Research Development Fund grant through Dalhousie University. Most of this grant will be combined with the CAUL grant to hire a research assistant.
Creighton’s project is attempting to answer several research questions about the copyright and intellectual property status of folk song recordings made by Helen Creighton, but it is rooted in his broader interests in the archiving of folklore and cultural heritage. “My research interests involve the documentation and preservation of intangible cultural heritage. Academic researchers are typically leading these efforts, which often lead to the creation of vast multimedia archives with complex ethical, legal, financial, and technological obligations for the academic libraries and archives that end up taking custodianship of these materials. Intangible cultural heritage has also emerged as a key component of education, tourism, and cultural initiatives, yet many of the most pertinent resources are distributed across multiple institutions, poorly described, and mired in questions about copyright, intellectual property, evolving organizational priorities, financial challenges, etc.,” says Creighton.
“I want to pull together all the information about Helen Creighton’s collection and find a way for the archives that hold her recordings to work together,” says Creighton. “There are copies of the same songs held in various archives, and it’s difficult to tell where the original recording is located,” says Creighton. Pieces of Helen Creighton’s collection can be found in the Nova Scotia Archives, Mount Allison University, Université Laval, the Canadian Museum of History, and in the Library of Congress in the United States.
On March 18, 2015, Creighton will give a free public lecture to the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, entitled: American sponsorship of Helen Creighton’s folk song collecting in Nova Scotia during the Second World War.
More information about this public lecture will be available in the coming months.