Microfilm Lead-in Frame Interpretation

Dear Editor;

I recently made some scans of newspaper obituaries from the Saskatchewan Public Library (Frances Morrison Central Library). The librarian advises me that they buy the films from the, "Commonwealth Microfilm Library", and file each as something similar to, "Saskatoon Star Phoenix, 1985, September 16 to 30". However; I thought to take an image of the two lead-in frames on each film from which I took an obituary image. Upon examining them, I noted that the second lead-in frame (Frame 2.jpg) reflects the date on the associated film container. However, the first lead-in frame (Frame 1.jpg)shows the same information on every film and it makes no sense to me. It references a totally different company and has a date of 1902! I've attached scans of the two frames and would appreciate your help in understanding what they mean and what info to extract for use in a citation.

Submitted byHistory Hunteron Thu, 05/04/2017 - 16:42

Dear Editor;

I see that my uploaded files are not showing, despite them being under 1 MB.
I will try to attach Frame 1.jpg to this post and send Frame 2 in a second post.

Submitted byHistory Hunteron Thu, 05/04/2017 - 16:44

Dear Editor;

This has the second frame attached.

Submitted byHistory Hunteron Thu, 05/04/2017 - 19:34

Dear Editor;

As I know you often suggest having a go at the citation, I did my best to distill how it should look from some of the previous forum posts.

"Deaths," The Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) StarPhoenix, 23 August 1975, p. 26, Earle DISHAW obituary; Commonwealth Microfilm Library, reel 714 [locally catalogued as “Saskatoon StarPhoenix, 1985, September 16 to 30”]; Frances Morrison Central Library, Saskatoon Public Library, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

I've attached a scan of the obituary, so that you are able to see the article.


Submitted byEEon Thu, 05/04/2017 - 20:47

History Hunter, I'm assuming that you Googled for Armadale Publishers and for Commonwealth Microfilm Library, to get a basic understanding of what these entities are.

When we cite a newspaper, we do not have to cite the company that published the paper (i.e., Armadale Publishers). When we cite a microfilm publication we are expected to cite the company that published the film edition—just as we would cite the company that published a book.

Reading your citation, there are just a couple of issues that might be raised (aside from the discrepancy between 1975 and 1985):

  • Re your comment "[locally catalogued as 'Saskatoon StarPhoenix, 1985, September 16 to 30']": if by "locally catalogued" you are referring to the catalog ID given by the Frances Morrison Central Library, then that should be moved to the layer in which you identify the library. 
  • That said, it's not clear why an obit of 23 August 19[8?]5 would be cataloged under "1985, September 16 to 30."


Dear Editor;

My sincere apologies for the typographical error in the date. Your changes are correct. I've been cleaning up my files and embedding the source and footnote info within my local copies of PDFs and image files. I've been just a bit overwhelmed by the task and made an unfortunate error.

I googled for both names. There's very little on them, because the COMMONWEALTH MICROFILM LIBRARY is shown as having ceased operation and ARMADALE PUBLISHERS LTD only have references to a lawsuit. However; if I understand correctly, the former is essentially a "compiler/author" of a work that was published by AMADALE PUBLISHERS. I'll have to look at the EE book (and forum posts) again and see how the author and publisher should be added. Unfortunately; I don't see anything that resembles a valid publication date in the images uploaded. So, I'm not sure how to handle the need for a publication date.

You are correct about the "locally catalogued" statement. I put it in the wrong level. In the correct level, I will also word the "catalog ID" in a way that does not require the "[" and "]".

I should note that the dates on the microfilm, associated the COMMONWEALTH MICROFILM LIBRARY and ARMADALE PUBLISHERS LTD, are still confusing. Both predate the newspaper that is captured in the microfilm, so they can't be the date of compilation and the date of publication. Do you have any idea what those dates would be? (See uploaded images)

Submitted byEEon Fri, 05/05/2017 - 12:17

History Hunter, without access to the actual film series (and the time to analyze it all), I cannot say what else is going on here. But other uses of this film series would likely appreciate it if you have the time to make that analysis and determination and then post your findings.


Submitted byHistory Hunteron Fri, 05/05/2017 - 17:33

Dear Editor;

I called the Saskatoon Public Library and the Calgary Public Library to see if they could help interpret the noted frames. Unfortunately, neither could do much to help. I then contacted West Canadian Graphics. That is, as I understand it, the current name for West Canadian Graphic Industries Limited. As noted in one of the frames, Commonwealth Microfilm Library (who scanned the newspapers and printed the microfilm) was a division of West Canadian Graphic Industries Ltd.

A kind person in their Edmonton office offered to look at the frames and see what she could find out about the meaning of the dates in question. Apparently they haven't done microfilm for years, so this may not be a simple task.

When I receive a response, I'll be sure to post the relevant information.

Submitted bymitts6on Sat, 05/06/2017 - 09:11

In reply to by History Hunter

I have used films from Commonwealth Microfilm Library before, and noticed that the date on the second frame is the date the newspaper was established.

The fifth point with a flower gif at this link supports this:


Submitted byHistory Hunteron Sat, 05/06/2017 - 10:36

Dear "mitts6";

Well done! Thank you for noting this information.

To elaborate for those reading this post, the frame in question reads:


Without restating the previously provided link, the text from the "Saskatchewan Genweb" page reads:

Saskatoon Star Phoenix previously was two separate newspapers the "Star" and another paper called the "Phoenix"-- this info may help when ordering microfiche of newspapers through interlibrary loan.
Daily Star - March 13 1912 to Sep 11, 1928
Phenix, later Phoenix - Oct. 17-1902 to March 1926
Star Phoenix - Sep't 12, 1928 to present

It appears that the date in the first frame, "OCTOBER 17 1902", does indeed match that of the institution of the, "Phenix", as a newspaper. While the title of the frame, says, "THE STAR PHOENIX".  I should also note that the "VOLUMES:" and "NO" fields seem to be invarient amongst the set of films that I have viewed. I wonder if the publisher intended to indicate that the series of films started with the first edition of the first volume and simply chose to use the more recent (and well-known) name for the newspaper.


As an aside; I should note that the date associated with the remaining frame, regarding the "COMMONWEATH MICROFILM LIBRARY LTD", does not seem to be the date of its institution. On the StarPhoenix reels I consulted, it has always beens "1975". Based on searching the "WorldCat" and other sites, there seem to be versions of the commonwealth microfilm library for other papers that bear different dates. Per https://www.can1business.com/company/Dissolved/Commonwealth-Microfilm-Library-Ltd the company registration date was 15 June 1970. I suspect (but must wait for confirmation) that the date could be associated with the point in time at which the editions for a particular newspaper collection were microfilmed and published. If so, I believe that this would make it useful as the "publication year" for the microfilm of the newspaper that was consulted. We'll just need to wait and see...

Submitted byHistory Hunteron Sat, 05/06/2017 - 10:52

In reply to by History Hunter

Whoops! (a big one, for which I apologize)... The premise that "1975" is a publication date just can't be true, because it predates some contents. It could however be a date associated with the start of the digitizing process for that particular newspaper and the company kept it invariant. Has anyone else seen a different date than "1975" for the StarPhoenix? I guess this one will take some time to figure out.

Hi History Hunter,

Apologies, my original response should have referred to the first frame, not the second. Your subsequent post clarified nicely - thank you!

I've reviewed some images I have saved for the Edmonton Journal. I have a few for papers dated 1985-1986 that show 1975 on the analagous frame. There is one for a paper dated 1987 that shows 1987, and one more for papers dated 1960 that shows West Canadian Graphics instead of Commonwealth Imaging.

It seems like 1975 is an attribute of the microfilm publisher as opposed to the digitization of the newspaper, but the 1987 example complicates this theory a bit. I will attach examples in case they can assist in your search.

Submitted byHistory Hunteron Sat, 05/06/2017 - 17:49

Dear "mitts6";

Thank you so much for posting additional examples. This may help.

I can understand the reference to "Southam" (a known newspaper publishing group) in your frames and a date that is likely the start of the Edmonton Journal newspapers, in a similar fashion to those frames for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix paper.

I see the changing of the name between West Canadian and the Commonwealth Microfilm Library, but they are both part of the same business entity and so it may not be significant in itself. However; the reason for the change in the dates on some frames leaves me a bit puzzled too. I'll have to have another look, but I don't see enough evidence yet to infer a causual relationship between the name changes and the dates. In post #10, I provided a link to a site with the start date for the Commonwealth Microfilm Library. There are several other key dates present. I'll have to look at those to see if they line up given the additional examples.