Collection Information

The Freeman Collection, purchased by the Cape Breton Regional Library from a second hand bookseller in Halifax, Nova Scotia, consists of various papers, letters, photos and other ephemera produced by Charles Freeman and his family. The bulk of the collection is three binders of reports sent by Charles Freeman to the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C. The reports date from the period that Freeman served as the U.S. Consul in Sydney, Nova Scotia (1911-1924). From the appearance of the reports, he took his work very seriously, reporting in detail on the economic progress of Cape Breton Island and also the labour situation of the time. Since four of these years were war years, his reports are of great interest due to his nation’s status of neutrality until April 1917, and then as an Allied power with naval vessels as a well as a Naval Air Station in the Sydney Harbour area.

The Freeman Collection includes personal snapshots of his family, and a fine collection of photos of American sailors and airmen in this area, including what is possibly the first photograph of Sydney Harbour taken from the air. The collection also contains interesting items such as an autograph book of Mr. Freeman’s graduating class from Portland High in Maine, where his classmates included the future Arctic explorer Admiral Robert Peary.

This collection will be of interest to researchers of American consular activities in the early twentieth century, to those with an interest in Cape Breton during that tumultuous period of rapid population and industrial growth, and to those studying the First World War at a mirco-level on the Homefront.

To find out more information about this collection please contact the Cape Breton Regional Library: