The Nova Scotia Archives is asking people to check their old stacks of newspapers to help them piece together a part of the province's history.

The Clarion, based in New Glasgow, N.S., was one of the first newspapers published in the province specifically for the black community.  

Archivist John MacLeod and archival assistant Anjali Vohra hope people might have forgotten copies they'd be willing to share. 

"Sometimes people find them stored in their attic," Vohra said. "People sometimes find newspaper issues used as insulation in their houses, like they're renovating their house and they find newspapers in between the walls.

"Scrapbooking and all different kinds of ways that people come across these newspapers."

Early issue featured Viola Desmond

Carrie Best started the paper as a single sheet in 1946, covering her local community and life around the Second Baptist Church in New Glasgow. 

In December 1946, it was relaunched as a multi-page tabloid-sized paper. That issue featured the story of a black woman, Viola Desmond, who was arrested for sitting in the white's only section of the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow.

Three years before, Best had bought two tickets for the downstairs seating of the theatre and had attempted to watch a film with her son.

Both were arrested and fought the charges, challenging the legal justification of the theatre's segregation. Her case was unsuccessful and they had to pay damages to Roseland's owners.

But that pushed Best speak out about civil rights using her platform as a publisher. She then went on to write a weekly column in the Pictou Advocate entitled "Human Rights."

The Clarion

In December 1946, the paper was relaunched as a multi-page tabloid-sized paper. That issue featured the story of a woman arrested at New Glasgow's Roseland Theatre, Viola Desmond. (Nova Scotia Archives)

Archives has only 33 issues

The Clarion ran from 1946 to 1956, when it was renamed. The archives, however, has only 33 issues dating between 1946 and 1949. Those are thanks to Mrs. W.P. Oliver, who brought in her collection to be put on microfilm in 1987. 

"She thought this would be a valuable resource to offer to the archives and so she brought them in for filming," said Vohra.  

The digitized versions of Oliver's copies are available on the archives' website.

"We have not seen an issue of The Clarion since Mrs. Oliver brought those issues in," said Vohra. "So we're hoping that by putting these digitized copies on our website somebody might say, 'Hey, wait a second I've got some issues. I think I might have that in my collection or in my scrapbook.'"

Carrie Best

Carrie Best started the paper as a single sheet in 1946, covering her local community and life around the Second Baptist Church in New Glasgow. (CBC)

Best received numerous awards, honours

In 1974, Best was made a member of the Order of Canada. She was elevated five years later to officer of the order in recognition of her devotion to the "underprivileged, regardless of race, colour, creed or sex, and particularly her own people of the black community."

In 1975, she was awarded an honorary doctor of laws from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish and received an honorary doctor of civil law from the University of King's College in 1992.

Best died in 2001 at the age of 98. 

She was posthumously awarded the Order of Nova Scotia in 2002 and is commemorated on a postage stamp issued by Canada Post on Feb. 1, 2011.