Prof. Matthew Hayday, Department of History, spoke to the Ottawa Citizen on its 175th anniversary about the importance of newspapers in documenting the history of Canada.
Hayday said historians rely on newspapers to get a sense of the the zeitgeist of the time and learn about the social norms of the day — from gender roles to cooking and parenting trends.
Even the letters to the editor offer a cross-section of public opinion not often recorded in other historical documents, he said.
“We know what the people with power did … (but) we don’t always know what the common person thought of those events,” he said.
Hayday studies the political and cultural history of post-war Canada and has published about the history and evolution of Canada Day as well as other national and provincial holidays.