Alison Prentice

Title: Alison Prentice fonds

Date(s) of creation:  1951-2008

Physical description: 2.36 metres of textual, graphic and sound recording records.

Admin. history/Biographical Sketch:

Dr. Alison Prentice is a well known and distinguished Canadian historian specializing in the study of the history of education and women’s history. She was born in Deleware in 1934 and twenty years after her family immigrated to Canada, she became a Canadian citizen in 1959.  Her undergraduate years were spent attending   Smith College in Massachusetts where she obtained a B.A. in 1955.  She graduated from the University of Toronto with her M.A. in 1958 and after years of periodic study, research and teaching, she graduated with a Ph.D. from the same institution in 1974.  From 1972-1975, she held a teaching position at Atkinson College, York University, where she taught the first course in Canada on women’s history. In 1975, Prof. Prentice joined the faculty at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education,  Department of History and Philosophy, as the first female tenure-stream member.  In 1983, she was appointed Professor.  Upon her retirement from the University of Toronto in 1998, she was made Professor Emeritus. 

Throughout her lengthy career, she established herself as a pioneer in both the study of the history of education and women’s history often combining the two areas of research. She was instrumental in establishing the women’s history program at OISE and in 1983 founded the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education.  Through the Canadian Women’s History Project, she initiated the collective endeavour that produced the first university-level textbook in Canadian women’s history, Canadian Women: A History (1st edition 1988 ; 2nd edition 1996).  She has authored, co-authored, contributed  and/or edited  over 30 books and has published over 30 articles and reviews in addition to giving countless lectures, seminars and talks.  

Prof. Prentice has received many honours and she has been awarded for her scholarly work. Throughout the years, specific works have received awards including the Founder’s Prize for best women’s studies article (1986) and again for best anthology on the history of education in Canada (1992), as well as the Hilda Neatby Prize for best article in Canadian women’s history (1987). In 1992 her book Schooling and Scholars in Nineteenth-Century Ontario co-authored with Susan Houston won the Book Prize from the Canadian Association for Foundations in Education.  She has received two honorary doctorates, one each from the University of Guelph in 1993 and the University of Western Ontario in 1998. Also in 1998, the year of her retirement from the University of Toronto, the Ontario Historical Society honoured her by creating the Alison Prentice prize for best book in women’s history.  In that same year, she was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.. 

Alison Prentice lives with her husband, retired Physicist James Prentice in Victoria, B.C..  She continues to do research and lecture at the University of Victoria where she is Adjunct Professor.

Scope and content:

This fonds consists of two accessions which together give a fairly complete documentation of Prof. Prentice’s career  as a scholar, mentor and teacher.  Extensive correspondence, memos, e-mails, research notes and manuscripts found in various series document her scholarly contributions.  Correspondence with students, letters of recommendation and her leadership on associations and projects document her wide influence among historians.  Since she was a pioneer in the teaching of women’s history, her teaching files found in Series 9 are important resources in studying women’s history as an emerging discipline in higher education. 

Perhaps most importantly however, this fonds documents the network of Canadian academics, most of which were women, in the area of women’s history, the history of education and women’s studies in general.  Many of Prof. Prentice projects and publications were collaborative and therefore the fonds documents her relationship with this network of women historians.  It is also evident that through these collaborations, Prof. Prentice was not only at the centre of women’s studies within her own generation but also influenced the next generation of scholars who have gone on to make their own contributions in history departments and women’s studies programs throughout Canadian universities.  

Prof Prentice is a pioneer in both teaching and researching women’s history.  As a result, these records will be of interest to anyone researching the evolution of women’s history as a discipline, the teaching of the history of education and women’s history as well the role of women in higher education.

Access/Use: Open; Series 2 Correspondence and Series 4 Letters of Recommendation are Restricted. Permission from the Donor must be sought for extensive publication.

Finding aids:Alison Prentice fonds

Related records in a different fonds:

Accruals: Further accruals are expected.

Corresponding accessions: B1998-0017, B2009-0010.