Series GR-0470 - Correspondence School administrative records

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Correspondence School administrative records

General material designation

  • textual record

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the series.

Level of description


Reference code


Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1919-1969 (Creation)
    British Columbia. Dept. of Education. Elementary Correspondence School

Physical description area

Physical description

3.5 m of textual records

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Elementary courses by correspondence were first offered by the Education Department in 1919 when John Kyle, organizer of the Technical Education Branch, provided notes and textbooks to eighty-six children living in isolated parts of the province. Thirteen of the children were living in lighthouses and Kyle afterwards noted that "this unique educational step has been the means of bringing a note of pleasure and profit into their otherwise lonely lives" [48th Annual Report of the Public Schools, p.81]. British Columbia was the first province in Canada to offer such courses.

The popularity of the courses prompted the Education Department to establish an "Elementary Correspondence School." During its first decade, the school was the responsibility of the Technical Education Branch. After 1929, following an amendment to the Public Schools Act, it became a separate branch of the department. By that time, the Elementary Correspondence School Branch was providing courses to over six hundred pupils throughout the province.

James Hargreaves was director of the branch from 1919 to 1933. (Hargreaves had previously been instructor of the Coal Mining Correspondence courses established by the department, in conjunction with the Department of Mines in 1917.) He was succeeded by Miss Isabel Bescoby (1934-1937), Miss Anna B. Miller (1937-1950) [Mrs. Anna B. Walsh, 1951], and Major A.H. Plows (1952-1968). In 1969, the Elementary School Correspondence Branch and the High School Correspondence Branch (est'd. 1929) were amalgamated as the Correspondence Education Branch, with J.R. Hind as director.

Initially, the Elementary Correspondence School catered only to children in isolated areas - i.e. those living more than three miles beyond an established school district. Later, its programs broadened to include handicapped children (who, because of their infirmities were unable to attend regular schools), under-educated adults, and new immigrants who wished to learn English. During the depression, the branch provided courses to unemployed men in the government relief camps, and during the Second World War it provided education to Japanese children who had been interned by the British Columbia Security Commission.

The branch also regulated courses under Section 13(g) of the Public Schools Act [RSBC, 1936, c.253]. Under this section of the act, qualified persons were permitted to "give instruction in the prescribed courses of study for public schools to children between the ages of six and eighteen years in any part of the province where there [was] not a sufficient number of children available for the establishment of a public school, and where instruction by means of correspondence courses [was] considered in expedient." The branch carried out similar work under Section 20 of the Public Schools Act of 1959. As well, the branch provided courses to pupils in hospitals and government correctional institutions.

Custodial history

Scope and content

GR-0470 contains records pertaining to the operations of the Elementary Correspondence School Branch from 1919 to 1969. The records document virtually all aspects of the branch's work. In addition to copies of the directors' correspondence and reports, GR-0470 includes copies of semi-annual correspondence school magazines (containing profiles of pupils and instructors), brochures, applications and sample lesson plans. Also includes records of courses offered in government Relief Camps during the Depression, along with records of courses provided to Japanese pupils interned during the second World War, and pupils enrolled under Sections 13(g) and 20 of the Public Schools Act.

GR-0470 also includes individual student files for the years 1919-1930. This series consists of a complete sequence of files [Nos. 19-296] from 1919 to 1921, and a representative sample of files [Nos. 299-2655], selected because of their historic value and because they contained illuminating letters from parents and pupils. Note that Files 1-3 (1919) will be found in GR-0396. Files 4-18 have not survived.

Before these records were transferred to the archives in 1979, application forms and report cards were removed from the students' files and were microfilmed. Regrettably, the application forms - which contain key biographical data and valuable genealogical information and the report cards were not returned to the original files; in fact, original copies of the application forms and report cards, along with related correspondence, were destroyed after the records had been filmed. Microform copies of the application forms and report cards have, however, been preserved by the Correspondence and Distance Learning Branch, Ministry of Education.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Transferred by Dept. of Education, Correspondence Branch, 1978.


Language of material

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

These records are restricted. Please contact the BC Archives for information about access. To protect the privacy of certain individuals (in accordance with section 22 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) some names have been severed from this finding aid. Where information has been removed, this is indicated by the following annotation [severed].

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Associated materials

GR-1314 and GR-1316 consist of course calendars, curriculum guides, instruction books, and examination papers, 1939-1983.

Student files 1-3 (1919) are located in GR-0396

Related materials


General note

Accession number(s): GR-0470

Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Control area

Description record identifier

Accession area