Ida Halpern recordings


The Ida Halpern fonds is a remarkable collection of audiovisual, textual and photographic records documenting the songs, ceremonies and culture of the Northwest Coast of Canada. Between the 1940s and 1980s Ida Halpern, an ethnomusicologist, captured an unprecedented quantity of sound recordings of cultural creations from leading Elders in Kwakwa̱ka̱̕wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, Haida and Coast Salish communities. Her textual records include musical analyses of the songs and a wealth of information about the ceremonies derived from interviews with the Elders involved in the recordings.

Many Elders recorded by Halpern were willing to offer songs, naming ceremonies and other musical creations because they recognized the devastating impact racist government policies such as the potlatch ban and enforced assimilation via residential school education were having on the younger generations. These recordings are invaluable to the families and communities who hold the intellectual rights to the songs and ceremonies. They are also vital as potential tools in language revitalization efforts and as evidence of the unique, enduring coastal cultures.

This object selected by Ann Ten Cate. Text by Genevieve Weber.