David Bly: Sleuthing Students Unravel Historical Mysteries

Roundup: Talking About History

Two Mount Royal College history instructors are putting together a website that will allow students to investigate a 19th-century mystery.

Jennifer Pettit and Kori Street have been researching the murders of the Black Donnellys, an Irish-Canadian family that lived in Biddulph Township, Ont., in the 1800s.

Their research will become part of Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History, a series of instructional websites designed to encourage students to increase their knowledge of history and promote archival research in the hope of shedding light on unsolved historical crimes.

The series, accessed through www.canadianmysteries.ca, now features websites about three violent crimes from the past, but will eventually have 13, said Ms. Street, including Heaven and Hell on Earth: The Murder of the Black Donnellys, which Ms. Pettit and Ms. Street say will be posted next spring.

Backed by a grant from Canadian Heritage, and with the help of research students, the teachers spent the summer looking into the 1880 massacre in which several members of the Donnellys, an Irish immigrant family were killed by vigilantes after 30 years of feuding.

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