To do research on the strike and more generally, it is important to know how to locate, use, and cite your sources. Understanding how to search for relevant information, access it, and use it is important to this process. This guide will assist in facilitating and optimizing your strike related research by identifying some of the considerations that should be applied to certain records. It will further provide information on how to navigate the website and archival finding aids.
Using Archival Records About the Strike
Resources listed on this website are not always available online, but they can be accessed in person by contacting the institution that holds the records and arranging an appointment to view the records.
Some institutions may offer digitization services so that researchers who cannot access the records in-person can obtain digital reproductions for records of interest. Contact the institution that holds the records to find out if they provide digitization services and if so, what costs might be involved.
When reading about the strike, you will come across different narratives based on many voices – those of the strikers, the strike leaders, the Citizens’ Committee of One Thousand, as well as legal, political, and media perspectives. However, it is important to consider those voices you do not encounter. In some cases, information was difficult to find. As a result, some of the biographies in this exhibit are less detailed than those for whom narratives of the strike have generally favoured. Women, for example, participated in the strike in many ways, but strike narratives often limit their roles to Helen Armstrong and her connection to the Women’s Labor League.
Furthermore, the Strike unfolded in many spaces across Treaty 1 territory – the land of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and, Dene Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. These voices are absent from the historical narratives of the strike. The Winnipeg General Strike tells the stories of the oppression of labour rights and movements, and the desire of the working class to earn better wages, but it neglects to address that these battles happened on stolen land. By 1919, discriminatory government policies and legislation had forcefully removed the Anishinaabeg and Métis peoples from Winnipeg. For this reason, their stories are absent from the history of the strike, but this absence tells an entirely different story. When it comes to exploring the history of the strike, we must broaden our thinking to consider the stories untold. We encourage people to help tell these stories by thinking creatively when conducting research on the General Strike.
Just like today, media played an important role in 1919. It kept Winnipeggers informed about the events of the strike and the aftermath. Consequently, newspapers from the era provide a rich source of information about day-to-day occurrences from May 15 to June 26, 1919. However, newspapers are also problematic. During the strike, few newspapers stayed neutral. Most sources had a clear stance for or against the strike and each was directed and catered to a particular audience. Researchers using newspapers should be mindful of a given publication’s biases and should read sources carefully and critically to determine their reliability.
To learn more about newspaper biases during the strike, see the Media page.
Photographs of the strike were taken by various photographers and reporters, such as Winnipeg photographer L.B. Foote. Many of the photographs were sold commercially and distributed widely following the strike. Consequently, reproductions exist in many archives and museum throughout Manitoba and Canada and you might come across photographs online that look similar but are credited to different institutions. The originals of many of these photographs, including those of L.B. Foote, can be found at the Archives of Manitoba.
The accounts of people who lived through the strike can offer fascinating and rich details about the events through the memories of those who witnessed it firsthand. However, many records which offer a look back on the Winnipeg General Strike through recollections can be problematic. They rely on memory, which can be flawed and biased. Memories are shaped through perception and furthermore, some finer details are lost over time while some timelines of events conflict with others. When reading or listening to personal testimonies on the Winnipeg General Strike, it may be useful to consult other works to verify the source and the accuracy of the recollection.
The sources throughout this site come from various libraries and archives. Some of the content is in the public domain while other records may have varying permissions and copyright. Researchers are responsible for clarifying the copyright and restrictions with the relevant institution prior to reproducing or using images and records for purposes other than personal research. To ensure any images or records can be used, contact the institution that holds the records.
This site offers access to numerous keyword searchable databases, including
- The Manitoba Archival Information Network
- UM Digital Collections
- University of Calgary Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections
- Western Canada Pictorial Index
- Winnipeg in Focus
When performing a keyword search, it may be useful to consider variant spellings. For example:
Labor vs. Labour
In Winnipeg, in 1919, the term “labour” was spelled as “labor”. Consequently, this website applies both spellings, using labour more generally, but employing “Labor” when referring to organizations during the strike such as the Women’s Labor League or the James Street Labor Temple.
Commonly mispelled names
The spelling of certain names – particularly for those not of British descent – vary depending on the source. For example, the names of those who died during the Bloody Saturday riots are spelled differently in different records:
– Mike “Sokolowski” is sometimes spelled “Sokolowiski”
– Steve Szczerbanowicz’s name appears with many different spelling (he is also occasionally referred to as Mike).
– Michael Charitonoff is sometimes spelled Charitinoff, while his first name also appears as Matthew.
– Oscar Schoppelrei is sometimes spelled Choppelrei
Names are not always included in full in newspapers and other textual documents. Consequently, it may be useful to search by last name only, or search for variations. For example, George Armstrong could appear as G. Armstrong, or Geo. Armstrong, as “Geo.” was commonly used in newspapers as an abbreviation for George.
Variations in spelling for the names of women are common in newspapers and other textual documents. The information below may help locate relevant information about women during the strike:
Searching by surname: Search for maiden and/or married names (e.g., for Winona Dixon, a search for “Flett” (maiden name), “Dixon” (married name), or “Flett Dixon” (both names) may provide different results)
Searching by given name: Search for the first name of the person, as well as that of her spouse, or their initials (e.g., Helen Armstrong may be searched as “Helen Armstrong”, Mrs. George Armstrong”, “Mrs. H. Armstrong”, “Mrs. G. Armstrong”, or “Mrs. Geo. Armstrong”)
Navigating the Website
Information for this website was compiled through a number of different sources, including newspapers, government records, audio recordings, books, and articles. These sources are cited in short-form throughout the website and are further included in our Resources list.
The exhibit is divided into three main parts: Who (which is further divided into 8 sub-sections), When, and Where. However, the strike documents the interactions of people throughout various spaces in Winnipeg, across time, in 1919 and beyond. People played multiple roles and therefore do not always fit perfectly in one category. Consequently, content was organized based on where it best fit. For example, A.A. Heaps was a representative of government, while Helen Armstrong was a strong leader among women during the strike. However, they will not be found in the “Government and Politicians” and “Women” sections of “Who”. Both were strike leaders, who played a strong role in the development of the strike and its outcomes. As such, detailed information about their histories are included in the Strike Leaders section of the exhibit.
Abbreviations are commonly used across the site, both in the general content, and in source citations for digitized content.
Captions for photographs, newspapers, correspondence, etc., typically use abbreviations to cite the institution that holds the content, and may also use abbreviations to cite a collection name. For example:
- COWA = City of Winnipeg Archives
- UML = University of Manitoba Libraries
- UWA = University of Winnipeg Archives
- WCPI = Western Canada Pictorial Index (a collection held by the University of Winnipeg Archives)
For all institutional abbreviations, see the Resources page
Other Common Abbreviations
- OBU = One Big Union
- GWVA = Great War Veterans Association
- WTLC = Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council
Navigating Archival Finding Aids
Many resources listed in on the website are from archival institutions. These institutions hold primary sources, such as photographs, textual records, film, maps, and so on. Some of these records are made available online, others are available onsite. For many of these records, finding aids are available online to provide descriptions of various collections held by archives, and may help identify what records are of interest. Finding aids provide information such as what types of records are found in the collection, and biographical information on the record creator(s). Essentially, a finding aid is like a table of contents for records in a given collection – it helps you get a sense of the records to determine whether they are relevant to your research.
Finding aids, just like the records they describe, come in all shapes and sizes. A finding aid describes a single collection, but that collection could be found in a single folder, or spread out across dozens, if not hundreds, of boxes. Consequently, the level of detail provided varies from one finding aid to another. Some finding aids only give an overview of a collection as a whole, while others give a detailed listing of each individual file within the collection.
Furthermore, strike-related content may make up the entirety of a collection, or it may constitute only a small percentage of the overall collection. As a result, when searching for relevant information in finding aids, it may not always be evident how a collection relates to the strike based on the description. For this reason, the resource list provides a brief description of how the listed records relate to the strike when the finding aid itself does not establish a clear connection to the events of 1919.
Finding aids are structured to mirror the physical arrangement of a given collection. As a result, they use specific terms based on archival systems of arrangement and description. For those unfamiliar with archival language, the list below provides definitions for common terminology.
- Collection: Records from various sources brought together intentionally based on a unifying element. For example, the Winnipeg General Strike Collection at the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections includes newspaper clippings relating to a single subject – the Winnipeg General Strike – from various sources, such as the Winnipeg Tribune and the Manitoba Free Press.
- Fonds: Records created or accumulated by a single creator, such as a person, a family or an organization, through an organic process. For example, the records in the City of Winnipeg fonds at the City of Winnipeg Archives consists of records created and accumulated by the City of Winnipeg as a result of its municipal and administrative responsibilities.
- Series: Records within a fonds or collection that share a common subject, activity, format, function, or other type of relationship.