Thursday, November 26, 2020
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100 Years of Women’s Education at St. Michael’s College: Library and Online Exhibit

On Sept. 27, 2011, three institutional archives, the University of St. Michael's College, the Sisters of Loretto and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto, partnered to mark the 100th anniversary of women's education at St. Michael's. Originally, women were not admitted to St. Michael's College. The Sisters of St. Joseph and the Loretto Sisters, however, were committed to offering young women an education, and in 1911, they opened two women's colleges: St. Joseph's College and Loretto College. They were the first to offer women a university education under Catholic auspices through St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto.

A century later, their history and achievements are featured at the John M. Kelly Library and on the St. Michael's College website. In five display cases at the Kelly Library, the history of St. Joseph's College and Loretto College is represented through biographies, photographs, yearbooks and maps, but also original letters, minutebooks, literary magazines, dance tickets and additional artifacts.

The online exhibit contains a detailed history as well as electronic versions of the colleges' literary magazines, St. Joseph Lilies and the Loretto Rainbow. The exhibit is supplemented by three lectures on the history of women's education at St. Michael's. The first lecture was delivered at the Kelly Library on the launch date by Dr. Elizabeth M. Smyth, a historian who has studied and written extensively on the impact of women religious in Canada.

“It’s a very important exhibit,” said Dr. Smyth. “Women religious made a lot of contributions, and the exhibit makes this part of their history accessible through a wonderful collection of publications and photographs.”

Sister Mechtilde O’Mara, a classics professor at St. Michael’s for more than 30 years, was pleased with the website showing the literary magazines. “It’s wonderful to see those pages. I think you get a sense of how much it meant for women to have the opportunity to gain an education.”

"Women religious did a wonderful service for women's education," says Linda Wicks, Archivist for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto, "and I think the exhibit marks that time in history."

Upcoming Lectures (lecture times to be announced on the exhibit website)

January 23, 2012: Sr. Evanne Hunter, IBVM Provincial, will present the history of Loretto College in the Blue Room, Loretto College.

March 7, 2012: Sister Mechtilde O’Mara CSJ will give a talk on the history of St. Joseph’s College in the Christie House of Regis College at 100 Wellesley Street West.

Exhibit Website link:

By Ibrahim Ng


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