New Brunswick Museum,
Saint John, N.B., 1989.108.350
Louise Manny, New York, 1935
which is truly our own
Dr. Louise E. Manny
commemorative sketches and
biographies of this
dynamic woman exist, all chronicling a life filled with museum service,
heritage conservation, historical research and authorship. This
festival-founding, library-managing, folksong-collecting woman from the Miramichi had a single and comprehensive purpose: to preserve and promote New
Brunswick's rich history, with particular accent on her cherished childhood town
of Newcastle. To this end, she laid the foundation for the Miramichi Historical Society,
authored a weekly newspaper column recounting "Scenes from an Earlier Day,"
broadcast her research over CKMR radio in Newcastle, and built up a substantial
collection of rare books
and documents, among many other projects.
Along the way,
Louise Manny rubbed shoulders with major players on the heritage scene, as well
as with dignitaries and scholars from New England and the Maritime Provinces.
When she struck up a friendship with Newcastle's most famous son,
Lord Beaverbrook, Manny
found in him an enthusiastic patron and a kindred commemorative spirit. With
Beaverbrook's financial backing, Manny directed the restoration of the
Old Manse building in Newcastle
and oversaw its conversion into a lending library for the town. Manny, who
"our thousand-dollar kitchens and our ten-dollar libraries,"
worked incessantly to make books, films, magazines and musical recordings
available to Newcastle's public. Beaverbrook also entrusted Manny with the
oversight of several other heritage preservation projects. In 1946 he outfitted
her with a huge recording machine and asked her to collect
genuine Miramichi folksongs from
with preference for traditional
ballads sung by loggers in the surrounding lumber woods. His suggestion
connected with Manny's attraction to
New Brunswick folkways, launched her tour of tiny New Brunswick settlements in
search of authentic folksongs, forged her friendships with Nova Scotia's song collector Helen Creighton and Maine
folklorist Sandy Ives, produced a book: Songs of Miramichi, and spawned a
cultural revival with a unique annual event: the
Miramichi Folksong Festival.
Manny must be regarded as a pioneering force behind the mid-twentieth-century
revival of local heritage in New Brunswick. By encouraging people to preserve
the artefacts of the past whether by collecting, commemorating or simply
singing she, along with others, inspired a province-wide celebration of
history, and a passion among New Brunswick citizens to
learn more about their roots. Researchers regularly wrote to her for historical
information, and when they did, Louise shared from her trove of research notes,
pointing out promising resources but urging seekers to "do your own research, which makes a much more
interesting study than a rehash of someone else's findings." For her extensive
accomplishments she was awarded two
honourary doctorate degrees.
lifetime, Manny kept in close touch with administrators at the New Brunswick
Museum and collaborated with them on various heritage projects, including her
trilogy of books on New Brunswick's shipbuilding industry. A corresponding
(life) member of the Museum, she sat on its Supervisory Committee for the
Canadian History Department, and appears to have considered director
Webster a confidant. In her last will and testament, Louise gave the first pick
of all her papers, correspondence, books, and recordings an enormous and
priceless collection amassed over her lifetime to the New Brunswick Museum.
From these papers, as well as those housed in the Provincial Archives of
New Brunswick, we learn much about historical and contemporary New Brunswick,
and even more about Louise Manny
For more details of Louise Manny's
life and achievements, click here.
Louise Manny. Louise Manny Collection, Provincial Archives of
New Brunswick. MS3C4, MS1A5,
MS3A8, MS3E2, MS5D4, MS3C5, MS3C6 (Folksong
Lord Beaverbrook. Archives
Special Collections, Harriet Irving Library,
University of New
Brunswick. Beaverbrook Papers. Cases 20, 38, 39, 113, 137, 140.
Heroes of New
Fredericton, Brunswick Press, 1984.
Hamilton, W. D. Dictionary
of Miramichi Biography. Privately Published. Printed by Keystone
Printing & Lithographing Ltd. 1997.
Maine Folklife Center.
Brunswick Museum Archives and Research Library Online Database: Louise
New Brunswick Museum vertical
at the Public Archives of New Brunswick, F11086.
20 August 1970; 9
February 1963; 21 August 1970; 3 August 1960.
revival and the reformation of community at the Miramichi Folksong
Lore & Language, 12 (1994): 241-252.
From Her Collection