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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Biography: B. Mabel Dunham (1881–1957)

B. Mabel Dunham
 Along with Mary Black, Mabel Dunham, the chief librarian at Kitchener (previously Berlin) from 1908–44, is notable for assuming a leadership role in Ontario's public libraries shortly after the First World War. After graduating with a BA in 1908 from Victoria College in Toronto, she trained at the recently formed summer library school at McGill University under the direction of Charles Gould, who was also serving as the president of the American Library Association in 1908–09. Mabel Dunham was the second female president of the Ontario Library Association in 1920–21. My earlier blog post this year covered her presidential address. Throughout her career she expanded services in Kitchener, notably for children's programming.

I originally posted this biographical synopsis of Mabel Dunham for the Ex Libris Association several years ago in 2016. The post also continues on the current ELA website. The image is taken from the The Ontario Library Association: An Historical Sketch 1900–1925 (p. 106).

Bertha Mabel Dunham

Born May 29, 1881, Minto Twp. (near Harriston), ON. Died June 21, 1957, Kitchener, ON

1908 BA (Victoria College, University of Toronto)
1908 McGill University summer school for librarians

1898–1904 Elementary teacher, Berlin Model School (now Suddaby Public School)
1908–1944 Chief Librarian, Kitchener Public Library
1911–1912 and 1914 Chief instructor at Ontario Department of Education training course for librarianship

Dunham, B. Mabel (1910). “Leaves from the diary of a librarian.” Acta Victoriana 33: 270–276.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1910). “Methods of reaching the people.” Proceedings of the Ontario Library Association Annual Meeting: 68–76.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1912). “The Ontario Library Summer School, 1911.” Proceedings of the Ontario Library Association Annual Meeting: 63–66.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1915). “The library and the school.” The School: a Magazine Devoted to Elementary and Secondary Education 4, no. 2: 118–120.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1917). “What is the place and use of newspapers and periodicals in our public libraries in towns.” Proceedings of the Ontario Library Association Annual Meeting: 68–76.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1918). “William Wilfred Campbell, 1861–1918: An appreciation.” Waterloo Historical Society Annual Report 6: 44–47.
Dunham, B. Mabel (Jan. 1924). “Some ‘plain’ people of Canada.” Canadian Magazine 62: 188–195.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1927). “The public school and the public library.” Proceedings of the Ontario Educational Association Annual Meeting held at Toronto, 18th–21st April, 1927: 66–76.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1934). “Kitchener (Berlin) Public Library [history].” Typescript.
Dunham B. Mabel (1937). “Co-operation in the libraries of Waterloo County.” Ontario Library Review 21, no. 3: 120–122.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1938). “Waterloo County’s library scheme.” Ontario Library Review 22, no. 3: 197–199.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1945). “The Mid-European backgrounds of Waterloo County.” Ontario Historical Society Papers and Records 37: 59–70.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1945). “The story of Conestoga.” Waterloo Historical Society Annual Report 33: 16–23.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1948). “The Pequegnat family.” Waterloo Historical Society Annual Report 36: 50–55.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1950). “Beginnings in Ontario.” Mennonite Life 5, no. 4: 14–16.

Literary works:
Dunham, B. Mabel (1924). The trail of the Conestoga. Toronto: Macmillan.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1927). Toward Sodom. Toronto: Macmillan.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1931). The trail of the king’s men. Toronto: Ryerson Press.
Dunham, B. Mabel, ed. (1941). So great a heritage: historical narrative of Trinity United Church, 1841–1941. Kitchener: Trinity United Church.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1945). Grand River. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.
Dunham, B. Mabel (1948). Kristli’s trees. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.

1920–1921 President, Ontario Library Association
1922–1924 President, K-W University Women’s Club (also 1932–1934)
1947–50 President, Waterloo Historical Society

1947 DLitt, University of Western Ontario
1948 Book of the Year Medal for “Kristil’s Trees” awarded by Canadian Association of Children’s Librarians
1953, the City of Kitchener declared her birthday to be ‘B. Mabel Dunham Day’ in tribute to all her contributions to the city.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Federation of University Women administers the Dr. B. Mabel Dunham Award for female high school graduates.
Dunham is inducted as a member of the Waterloo Region Hall of Fame.

Mabel Dunham was the first trained chief librarian appointed to lead an Ontario public library. She was the third woman to be president of a provincial library association in Canada. She was the first woman to serve on a public board in Kitchener, being twice elected to the public school board. She was one of the early leaders in efforts to train and educate librarians in Ontario before World War I. She helped organize systematic cooperation to distribute books throughout Waterloo County in the late 1930s prior to the formation of a county library service. She was one of the founders of Kitchener’s Women’s Canadian Club (later president); president (and founder) of the Waterloo Historical Society; and a founder of the K-W Business and Professional Women’s Club.
Dunham wrote five books depicting the history and heritage of her region. Her first novels, “Trail of the Conestoga” and “Toward Sodom,” described the migration of the Mennonites to the K-W area centered in Berlin (now Kitchener). The “Trail of the King’s Men” recounted the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists from the United States. The “Grand River” was an exploration of a river and its surrounding countryside. “Kristli’s Trees” was an enjoyable story of a Mennonite boy and his family on a small farm illustrated by Selwyn Dewdney.
Although Dunham made no major contribution to librarianship on a national scale, she greatly influenced its development on a local scale through the force of her personality as well as making a noteworthy literary contribution to regional historical fiction.

Kitchener Public Library holds information on Dunham and there are library board minutes for her tenure. The Ontario Archives has some speeches and correspondence as part of the Ontario Library Association records.
Banting, Constance (1928). “Mabel Dunham.” Ontario Library Review 12, no. 2: 66.
“Honour to Whom Honour is Due” (1953). Waterloo Historical Society Annual Report 41: 7–8.
Snider, Lillian (Aug. 1954). “Miss Mabel Dunham.” Ontario Library Review 38, no. 3: 221–24.
Shoemaker, Dorothy and Grace Schmidt (1989). “Dr. B. Mabel Dunham (1881–1957).” Ex Libris News no. 5: 5–7.
Taylor, Ryan (1981). “Mabel Dunham’s Centenary.” Waterloo Historical Society Annual Report 69: 13–25 [extensive bibliography].

Also, my earlier post on Mabel Dunham's address about women to the Ontario Library Association in 1921.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Biography: Mary J.L. Black (1879—1939)

Mary J.L. Black

Earlier this year I posted comments and excerpts from Mary Black’s presidential address at the Ontario Library Association in 1918. Mary Black was the first female president of a library association in Canada. As background for her career, I am adding a biographical piece that provides basic facts about her library career. I composed this biography for the Ex Libris Association in 2016 and it also appears on this association's website. The image above is taken from the 1908 Papers of the Thunder Bay Historical Society (p. 6) of which she was a long-standing member of the executive.

Mary Black was an inspirational force for improved library service to everyone in the old city of Fort William and its environs (today Thunder Bay). Service for people was her mantra. She was active in community and library and organizations, including the American Library Association extension services. In a time before national and provincial library associations formed across Canada, she was a progressive, regional force for librarianship, even in the gloomy years of the Great Depression.

Mary Johanna Louisa Black

Born Apr. 1, 1879, Uxbridge, ON. Died Jan. 4, 1939, Vancouver, BC

Received informal `homeschooling` in her youth
Attended (but did not complete) the first Ontario Department of Education one-month summer training course for librarianship at Toronto in June 1911

1909–1937 Chief Librarian, Fort William Public Library
1917 Lecturer, Department of Education two-month training course in librarianship

Black, Mary (1911/1912). “Our public library.” Papers and Annual Reports of the Thunder Bay Historical Society 3: 6–7.
Black, Mary (1913). “Books for girls.” Proceedings of the Ontario Library Association Annual Meeting: 74–79.
Black, Mary (1915). “Town survey in theory and practice.” Proceedings of the OLA Annual Meeting: 72–80.
Black, Mary (1916). “The library and the girl.” Ontario Library Review 1: 8–9.
Black, Mary (1917). “What seems to me an important aspect of the work of public libraries at the present time.” Proceedings of the OLA Annual Meeting: 30–34.
Black, Mary (1918). “Concerning some popular fallacies.” Proceedings of the OLA Annual Meeting: 52–58 (OLA Presidential Address.)
Black, Mary (1918). “Walks and talks with Wilfred Campbell.” Ontario Library Review 3: 30–31.
Black, Mary (1919). “Twentieth century librarianship.” Canadian Bookman n.s.1: 58–59.
Black, Mary (1920). “New library legislation in Ontario.” Canadian Bookman n. s. 2:18–19.
Black, Mary (1921). “Tales through the ages from the banks of the Kaministiquia.” Papers and Annual Reports of the Thunder Bay Historical Society 16–12: 8–10.
Black, Mary (1924). “Early history of the Fort William Public Library.” Papers and Annual Reports of the Thunder Bay Historical Society 16–17: 12–21.
Black, Mary (1924). “Place names in the vicinity of Fort William.” Papers and Annual Reports of the Thunder Historical Society 16–17: 12–21.
Black, Mary (1927). “Canadian library extension meeting”. Proceedings and transactions of the American Library Association, 49th Meeting: 338–340.
Black, Mary. (1928). “Adult education.” Proceedings of the OLA Annual Meeting: 61–64.
Black, Mary (1931). “Ontario libraries.” Ontario Library Review 15:132–138.
Black, Mary (1933). “Publicity for the older books.” Ontario Library Review 17: 5–6.
Black, Mary (1934). “Fort William, Ontario, Public Library.” Library Journal 59: 510–511.
Black, Mary (1935). “Ideal librarian.” Ontario Library Review 19: 125–126.
Ridington, John, Mary J. L. Black and George H. Locke (1933). Libraries in Canada: a study of library conditions and needs. Toronto: Ryerson Press and Chicago ALA.

1917–1918 President, Ontario Library Association
1926–1934 American Library Association, member of Extension Board
1933–1934 American Library Association, chair, Small Libraries Round Table
1934–1937 Canadian Library Council, executive member (ex-officio)
1913–1928 Secretary-Treasurer, Thunder Bay Historical Society
1929–1932 President, Thunder Bay Historical Society
1916–1918 President, Fort William Women's Canadian Club

The Mary J.L, Black Branch library, opened in 1938, was named in her honour. It was recently renovated for the second time in 2010 by the Thunder Bay Public Library at a cost of $4 million. It is one of the handful of Canadian libraries constructed during the Great Depression to continue in operation.

Mary J.L. Black believed the mission of the public library was essentially utilitarian – to provide the right book to the right reader at the least cost. Her “ideal librarian” was one who held the spirit of public service and knowledge of people alongside the love of books. Libraries should reach out to every citizen and in this regard her work with the non-English speaking immigrant population was particularly noteworthy. Her personal town survey in 1915 to identify library needs exemplified her approach to library service. On a national scale, her work as a member of the Commission of Enquiry, funded by the Carnegie Corporation and conducted in 1930, remains a lasting contribution to Canadian librarianship. In her home city, she was active in local service groups, promotion of history and local political and educational life. The poet, William Wilfred Campbell, was her cousin. She was the first woman to be president of a library association in Canada.

Thunder Bay Public Library holds annual reports by Black and there are library board minutes for her tenure. The ALA Archives holds records of her activities and the Carnegie Corporation New York has information on her work on the 1930 Commission.

[Carson, William O.] (1917). “The librarian and library of Fort William.” Ontario Library Review 1: 92–95.
MacBeth, Madge (1918). “A bookish person.” Canadian Magazine 51: 518–520.
“Miss Mary J.L. Black is interviewed by Globe.” Toronto Globe June 18, 1927: 15.
Kirker, Ena. (1927). “The woman who put charm into a public library.” Canadian Magazine 68: 32, 41.
Abbott, Brook (1931). “An accidental librarian: Mary Black of Fort William, Ont.” Canadian Magazine 76: 18, 29.
“Mary J.L. Black dies in Vancouver.” Ontario Library Review 23 (Feb. 1939): 5–7.
Morrison, Ken (1994). “Mary J.L. Black of Fort William library.” Epilogue; Canadian Bulletin for the History of Books, Libraries and Archives 9, no 1: 13–22.
Scollie, Frederick Brent. “Black, Mary Johanna Louisa.” In: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16.
Giles, Suzette (2015). “Libraries named after librarians.” ELAN no. 57 (Spring): 6–7.

My earlier blog on Mary Black's presidential speech is also available.