Accession A1987-024 (TC 74 & 74A) - Sheila Rabinovitch Tape Collection

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Sheila Rabinovitch Tape Collection

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Reference code

CA UMASC MSS 416, TC 74, TC 74A (A87-24, A13-109)-A1987-024 (TC 74 & 74A)

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1970-1981 (Creation)
    Rabinovitch, Sheila

Physical description area

Physical description

118 audio cassettes. -- 184 audio reels.

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Archival description area

Name of creator

(1914 - 2012)

Biographical history

Sheila Rabinovitch was born Sheila Cohen on July 10, 1914 in Canora, Saskatchewan. Her father, Samuel Cohen, was a successful manager of hotels including the Brooklands Hotel (now Brooklands Inn) on Keewatin St., established in 1926 when the Cohen family relocated to Winnipeg. Rabinovitch's paternal grandfather also built the Nugget Hotel in downtown Winnipeg and her ancestors were among the founders of the Congregation Shaarey Zedek. Rabinovitch graduated from Daniel McIntyre Collegiate in 1932 and then attended the University of Manitoba. With the outbreak of World War Two, she moved to Toronto to work as a journalist and was quickly promoted to department editor for Industrial Canada magazine. She also attended the University of Toronto.

In 1946 she married Milton Rabinovitch and moved to his hometown of Morden, MB where they raised a son (David) and twin daughters (Celia and Sandra). She and her husband later relocated to Winnipeg, where she got actively involved with the art scene. She taught painting and other art forms in Winnipeg public schools and was art consultant to the Toronto Dominion Bank for a period of time. In the early 1970s, she simultaneously embarked on a new career as a writer and broadcaster, working for a period of time with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Her interviews received many accolades including first prize from the Media Club of Canada for "Cora Hind - Woman of the West" and an Actra Award nomination for documentary excellence for "Ralph Connor - The Man from Glengarry." During her career she produced many documentary profiles of Manitoba personalities of local and national interest, which constitute the bulk of the fonds. Rabinovitch passed away on October 2, 2012 at the age of 98.

Custodial history

Archives & Special Collections first became interested in the works of Sheila Rabinovitch in the spring of 1987. Thereupon, after several on-site visits and consultations conducted by the Head Archivist, Dr. Richard E. Bennett, her extensive collection of some 70 reel-to-reel tape recordings (approximately 90 hours) of her free-lance interviews (and some completed programs) was transferred to the University of Manitoba in three instalments. The first and by far the largest portion of the collection arrived May 6th of that same year followed by two other, much smaller transfers on May 19th and the 4th of July. The formal deed of gift, which legally transferred ownership of the tapes from the donor to the University, was signed December 21st, 1987.

The collection was then appraised by members of the National Archival Appraisal Board for possible income tax deduction purposes by the donor on 12 January 1988. Two months later, on 30 March 1988, it was certified as Cultural Property ("Gift to Canada") by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board.

Scope and content

The Sheila Rabinovitch Tape Collection is the work of one of Winnipeg's better known free lance writer, interviewer and broadcaster. It consists of some 70 interviews and 90 hours of recordings, mostly with Winnipeg residents, conducted between 1970 and 1981. Mrs. Rabinovitch conducted most of these interviews either on her own initiative or by request with the intention of using part or all of them for broadcast on various CBC radio programs of cultural and artistic interest to Canadians. Most of her works were aired on radio. Only three or four of approximately fifteen full-length, completed programs are to be found, however, in their entirety in the collection. The rest are preparatory in nature, offcuts and excerpts of various personalities on a wide range of topics.

As one might expect, there is an uneven quality to the collection. Some of the interviews are the finished product, i.e. comprehensive, insightful, and informative--ready for broadcast. This is particularly so of those on John W. Dafoe, Ralph Connor, John MacAulay, and Judge Lewis St. George Stubbs. Some of these have won awards for their excellence.

Many of the rest tend to be short excerpts, disjointed and relatively undeveloped. The very range of Mrs. Rabinovitch's interests makes for a somewhat eclectic collection, broader than it is deep. All of her own recordings are exceptionally clear and easy to listen to. A few of the early voice recordings of various personalities, however, are hard to hear. Thanks to recently-announced funding from the John W. Dafoe Foundation, many of the tapes of pertaining to John W. Dafoe will soon be transcribed. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the interviews will not be transcribed for the foreseeable future. (At the time of preparing this register, a grant application was being made for funds to transcribe the John W. Dafoe tapes.)

The interviews were originally recorded onto 5" or 7" reel-to-reel tapes. A few were produced on 10" broadcast tapes. The entire collection of these original recordings has been preserved and is listed and described herein under the call # 74A. Most, but not all, of these tapes were duplicated onto cassette tape recordings for ease of use and preservation purposes. Stored separately from the reel-to-reel parent collection, the cassettes are under the call # 74. Each individual interview is described later in this register whether reel-to-reel or cassette. Missing from her original collections are #s 11, 29, 34, 38, 46, 48, 49, 50 and 52.

The collection is a rare and unique oral presentation, if not oral history, of many of the personalities and events that figured prominently in the history of Winnipeg. Since radio stations and broadcast corporations seldom keep such programs for archival purposes, this collection takes on more than passing interest. To a Department that already houses the papers of John W. Dafoe, Ralph Connor (Rev. William Gordon), and Judge Stubbs, the work of Mrs. Rabinovitch takes on special value.

Those interviewed or discussed are, on the whole, prominent western Canadians in the fields of agriculture, literature, journalism, education, the law and, above all, the arts. The development of art, education, journalism, and literature are all well detailed. There is also much of interest here to the student of women's literature and art and of the expanding role of women, generally, in modern Canadian society.

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This collection is organized into 2 series

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  • English

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Location of originals

Availability of other formats

For preservation utilization purposes, most of the reel-to-reel tapes were re-recorded onto audio cassette tapes sometime after the donation.

Restrictions on access

There are no restrictions on access to this collection.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

The stipulations laid out in the deed of gift and agreed to between the donor, Sheila Rabinovitch, and the University of Manitoba, are as follows:

  1. Access to the collection is to be granted to all who exercise proper care of the material and who abide by departmental restrictions on use. Access may be denied anyone who disregards departmental policies protecting and safeguarding its collections.

  2. To the extent possible under law, copyright to the entire collection belongs to the donor or her heirs and assigns. As with all collections, it is the responsibility of the user to abide by all copyright laws and regulations as passed by Parliament from time-to-time.

  3. Any excerpts or quotations from the completed programs, unedited tapes, offcuts, scripts and transcripts of the recorded material must not be used without acknowledgement and attribution to the source.

  4. The material is not to be used for broadcast without the written consent of the copyright holder and the donor.

  5. Unless permission is otherwise granted, for ease of use and to preserve the originals, patrons will have access to the audio cassette recordings rather than to the original reel-to-reel tapes.

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