Fonds 00079 - Wesleyan Ladies' College fonds

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Wesleyan Ladies' College fonds

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Reference code

CA ON00131 00079

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  • 1861-1965 (Creation)

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Physical description

46 cm of textual records and other material (4 boxes)
1 photograph : b&w ; 11.5cm x 7.5cm
1 photograph : sepia tone ; 10cm x 6cm
1 object (medal) ; 8.5cm x 8.5cm

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Freda Farrell Waldon was born August 29, 1898 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her family moved to Hamilton, Ontario about a year later, and she remained there for the majority of her life. Waldon attended Central Public School and Hamilton Collegiate Institute. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto (1919), then went on to complete her M.A. in English at Columbia University (1931). Waldon attended the School of Librarianship at the University of London before becoming Chief Librarian of the Hamilton Public Library, a position which she held from 1940 to 1963. Waldon developed an interest in the Wesleyan Ladies' College, located on King Street East in Hamilton, Ontario, due in part to the fact that her mother, Lillie Hardy, was a graduate (1887). In 1952, Waldon sent a letter to the Toronto periodical Saturday Night, with a request to its readers for all available information on the College, including recollections, reminiscences and information from former students and teachers. Waldon also searched among her own papers and brought together a great deal of material on the College, its staff and students.

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Administrative history

The Wesleyan Ladies' College was located at the corner of King Street East and John Street South in Hamilton, Ontario, in the building erected as the Anglo-American Hotel (1854), which declared bankruptcy in 1861. This location became the future site of the Waldorf Hotel (ca. 1901-1914) and then The Royal Connaught Hotel (1914-). The Wesleyan Ladies’ College officially opened in September of 1861, drawing students from across Canada and the United States, and housing both boarding and day students. Mary Electa Adams was the first principal (from 1861-1868), succeeded by Rev. S.D. Rice, who was principal until 1878. More than two thousand women were educated at Wesleyan, and the college produced more than two hundred graduates. The first degrees conferred by the college were MLA, Mistress of Liberal Arts, and MEL, Mistress of English Literature. Members of the graduating class of 1888 obtained honours in the first Bachelor of Arts Degrees ever obtained by women in Ontario. The Wesleyan Ladies’ College closed in 1897.

Custodial history

The material in the Wesleyan Ladies' College fonds was collected by Freda F. Waldon from former students and teachers, and has been in the possession of the Local History & Archives Department since the 1950s.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of textual records including written correspondence, graduation and commencement programs, examination questions and essays, diplomas, course catalogues, periodicals, as well as Alumnae Association records, such as annual reports and Literary Club programs. The fonds also contains two photographs and one medal.

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Some fragile items and brittle paper in the collection.

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Gloves to be worn when viewing the photographs.

Finding aids

WESLEYAN LADIES' COLLEGE, HAMILTON, 1861-1897, Calendar prepared by Mary H. Farmer, Hamilton Public Library, 1966.

Associated materials

Hamilton Public Library, Local History and Archives's holdings include: Twenty-Ninth Annual Catalogue of the Wesleyan Ladies' College, Session 1890 [376.8 W516 CESH] ; Land transfer to Lot 6 and part of Lot 7 in the George Hamilton Survey, 1863 [971.3521 W516 CESH] ; The Wesleyan Ladies' College Hamilton by Mrs. J.B. Griffith, nee Louise Wright [376.8 W518 CESH] ; a Wesleyan Ladies' College Scrapbook [microfilm # 111]; and the following original photographs: Wesleyan Ladies’ College (377) (638) (s-849) (s-950), Wesleyan Ladies’ College pre-1888 (drawing) (33), Wesleyan Ladies’ College Class of 1881 (352), Wesleyan Ladies’ College Class of 1887 (s-37), Wesleyan Ladies College Class of 1893 (978), Wesleyan Ladies’ College Graduating class (s-38), Wesleyan Ladies’ College Student ca. 1889 (s-36). The University of Toronto, Media Commons' holdings include: Annual catalogue of the Wesleyan Ladies' College, Hamilton, Ontario, for the collegiate year, 1882-1891. Microtexts CIHM no. A02004 [Microform].

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General note

Dates of accumulation: ca. 1952.

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Prepared by Jennifer Dell 07/06/2016.

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Farmer, Mary H. (1966). Wesleyan Ladies' College, Hamilton, 1861-1897. Hamilton Public Library, Reference Department.

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