The Hilda Neatby Prize - English Article
The purpose of the Hilda Neatby Prize in Women's and Gender History, awarded since 1982 by the Canadian Committee in Women's History at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Historical Association, is to encourage the publication of scholarly articles on women's and gender history.
Meghan Longstaffe, « Indigenous Women as Newspaper Representations: Violence and Action in 1960s Vancouver », The Canadian Historical Review, 98, 2 (June 2017): 230-260.
Meghan Longstaffe demonstrates masterful skill in linking the trauma experienced by Indigenous women in Downtown Eastside Vancouver with the history of colonial violence through an analysis of major Vancouver-based newspaper articles from 1957 to 1970. She showcases how articles ostensibly written to reflect the hardships experienced by Indigenous women in the Downtown Eastside functioned to entrench sexist and racist language that shaped and maintained the deplorable conditions of their lives.
Carmela Patrias, “More Menial than Housemaids? Racialized and Gendered Labour in the Fruit and Vegetable Industry of Canada’s Niagara Region, 1880-1945,” Labour/Le Travail 78 (Fall 2016): 69-104.
With the First and Second World Wars and the Depression as a general backdrop, this article focuses attention on women seasonal labourers in Southern Ontario’s fruit and vegetable industry. Using a wide range of primary and secondary sources, Carmela Patrias contrasts expertly the treatment and portrayal of two groups of women: the “farmerettes,” meaning Canadian women of British origin, and “import workers,” meaning Indigenous women, Japanese Canadian women, and Eastern and Southern European women immigrants, some from just south of the border in Buffalo. The former group, often consisting of students and teachers, was treated far better than the latter due to their respectable educational, race and class status, and their labour was considered inspirational to the war effort. The latter group experienced poorer wage, working and housing conditions than the former; immigrant women were distrusted because of their foreignness and political activism, while the sexuality of Indigenous women was considered suspect. This article, so pertinent to women’s, wartime, labour and Indigenous histories, also signals the importance of using food studies as a conduit to discussions about ethnicity, class, race and racialization in Canada.
Carmen J. Nielson, “Caricaturing Colonial Space: Indigenized, Feminized Bodies and Anglo-Canadian Identity, 1873-94,” The Canadian Historical Review, vol. 96, no 4 (December 2015), p. 473-506.
Carmen J. Nielson’s “Caricaturing Colonial Space: Indigenized, Feminized Bodies and Anglo-Canadian Identity, 1873-94,” offers a superb illustration and provocative analysis of the visual trope of the indigenized and feminized body in Canada’s popular satirical magazine, Grip. In this fascinating account of nation, gender, and racial embodiment as featured in late nineteenth-century political cartoons and caricatures, Nielson provides her readers with insights on how to construct and deconstruct an intricate narrative using cultural theory and extensive primary sources. This study is a remarkable commentary on the social and political force of visual culture in creating gendered and racialized bodies as colonial projects that were synonymous with nation building, particularly in Western Canada and the Northwest Territories. In so doing, Neilson shows skillfully that the use of the indigenized and feminized body to represent Canada visually faded into whiteness once the nation's status under British rule was secured.
Katrina Ackerman, « In Defense of Reason : Religion, Science, and the Prince Edward Island Anti-Abortion Movement, 1969-1988 ».
Katarina Ackerman analyzes a wide range of primary sources, backed solidly by secondary sources, to describe the actions of the Prince Edward Island Right to Life Association (RTLA). With her meticulous, thorough and nuanced analysis of written and oral material, Ackerman shows the close ties uniting politicians, doctors, hospital management and activists from the "pro-life" movement in the process of blocking access to abortion services on PEI. Her detailed and precise account shows the relationship between transnational developments and the local history of Canada's smallest province and clearly demonstrates how the members of the RTLA infiltrated hospitals boards in the province to limit and prevent access to abortion services even after the legalization of abortion in 1969. Thus, this article provides the necessary facts to understand present-day issues in regard to access to abortion services. It is a fine example of the talent and skill of new researchers and their outstanding contributions to the history of women in Canada.
Adele Perry, “James Douglas, Amelia Connolly, and the Writing of Gender and Women's History” (In Catherine Carstairs and Nancy Janovicek, Feminist History in Canada. New Essays on Women, Gender, Work, and Nation. UBC Press, 2013)
Adele Perry’s article, “James Douglas, Amelia Connolly, and the Writing of Gender and Women’s History,” revisits familiar terrain. James Douglas, British Columbia’s first governor, is a stock character in Canadian survey histories. The familiarity of James Douglas' identity as fur trader and governor is partly why Perry’s article is so compelling. Through a careful exploration of the gendered dimensions of the relationship between Douglas and his wife, Amelia Connolly, and of the Connolly-Douglas family’s public identity, Perry firmly establishes the importance of understanding Canadian colonial politics in gendered terms. At the same time, Perry provides a sophisticated analysis of the way transnational intimate heterosexual relationships are informed by, and in turn inform, colonial hierarchies of gender, race and class. She pushes historians to consider how the individual lives of women and men are bound up in larger systems of oppression. This article demonstrates the great value of considering historical subjects as embedded within multi-layered private and public contexts and of developing insights provided by a broad reading of secondary sources, particularly when archival records of individuals do not survive or are unavailable, thereby reinforcing their marginal status in the historical record.
Honourable MentionAndrea Eidinger, "Gefilte Fish and Roast Duck with Orange
Slices: A Treasure for My Daughter and the Creation of a Jewish Cultural Orthodoxy in Postwar Montreal." In Franca Iacovetta, Marlene Epp, and Valerie Korinek, eds., Edible Histories, Cultural Politics: Towards a Canadian Food History, 189-208. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011. Andrea Eidinger’s “Gelfite Fish and Roast Duck with Orange Slices” is an exemplary work in Canadian feminist historiography. Asking the question, “What is a Jew?”, and exploring the the seminal Canadian Jewish cookbook, A Treasure for My Daughter (1950), “Gelfite Fish” examines orthodox Jewish identity in postwar Canada. Created over a half century ago, A Treasure for My Daughter still holds a starring place in Jewish kitchens, and is often handed down from mother and daughter. Containing not only recipes for such Eastern European peasant and working class staples as gelfite fish but also such North American dishes as roast turkey with all the trimmings, A Treasure for My Daughter draw from a range of influences, even while it privileges Biblical history and modern Israeli culture. Especially noteworthy is the book’s assumption that Jewish mothers are responsible for safeguarding Jewish cultural identity. Filled with rich analysis, “Gelfite Fish and Roast Duck with Orange Slices” is a model for future research on gender, class, ethnicity, identity, and food.
Heidi MacDonald has produced an impressive and insightful piece of work on the various ways in which women religious (nuns) have been excluded or significantly undercounted in the Canadian census. Drawing on historiography on the under-representation and misrepresentation of women and those holding multiple occupations in the census, but also going beyond this work MacDonald presents a careful, convincing and original piece of work on how and why female religious have been seen (and not seen) by census takers, and the implications this has had for the accurate counting both of nuns and of professional women more generally.
This article offers a nuanced and multi-layered study of how a discourse of mothering came to dominate understandings of women’s carework in the Canadian Red Cross Society during the First World War. Sarah Glassford explores women’s emotional and actual labours in servicing overseas soldiers as well as the possibilities and limitations for their own empowerment and political aspirations. As a national study informed by both the multidisciplinary literature on mothering and the historical scholarship on early twentieth-century maternal feminism, the article treats motherhood as a social and fluid category. It also highlights the roles of prominent women without ignoring the less glamourized work of volunteer “sock-knitters” in local communities across the country. Glassford has made an important contribution to the study of women’s history, medical history, and citizenship and to studies of the home front during the First World War.
Cynthia Toman. "Front Lines and Frontiers: War as Legitimate Work for Nurses, 1939-1945".
In this excellent article, Toman offers important new insights into women’s roles on the front lines, and nurses’ experience on the Homefront at war’s end. The author develops a fascinating argument concerning gender role reversal in the context of medical knowledge, technology and war, an argument that is firmly supported by an impressive array of sources, including 55 oral interviews and 1145 personnel records. The author makes an invaluable contribution to women’s and gender history, together with military history and labour history, while remaining carefully attentive to the international historiography. "Front Lines and Frontiers" is an engaging and vividly written piece.
Rusty Bittermann. “Lady Landlords and the Final Defence of Landlordism on Prince Edward Island: The Case of charlotte Sulivan”. Histoire sociale/Social History 38 : 76 (November 2005).
Rusty Bittermann has produced a fascinating case study of Charlotte Sulivan, a member of the London elite who challenged the colonial legislature of PEI, taking her case all the way to the newly established Supreme Court in an effort to retain control of her 66,000- acre PEI estate. This article is laden with rich and fascinating insight, drawing out the intersection of deeply gendered power networks taht defined business, familial and philanthropic networks linking colony and empire. Bittermann skillfully and meticulously mines available sources to shed new light on Sulivan’s proprietary motivations as she negotiated her way across the masculinist terrain of colonial economy and imperial justice. This original contribution illuminates our understanding of colonial economy, while disturbing received notions about the rootedness of separate spheres during this critical period in Canada history.
Cecilia Morgan. “Performing for ‘Imperial Eyes’: Bernice Loft and Ethel Brant Monture, Ontario, 1930s-1960s”, in/dans Katie Pickles and/et Myra Rutherdale, Contact Zones: Aboriginal and Settler Women in Canada’s Colonial Past, Vancouver: UBC Press, 2006
Cecilia Morgan has produced an innovative and insightful study giving voice and agency to two twentieth century Native women performers of Iroquois identity. She makes sense of their experience and what it can reveal about the ways in which Native women were perceived and perceived themselves by situating them in the wider context of White-Native relations and by analyzing cultural practices inside their own communities. She provides a rigorous treatment of the limited sources at her disposal revealing how aware she is of the complexity of the historian’s task. Truly impressive is the way in which she applies the most recent feminist theoretical scholarship on imperialism and colonialism to read Loft and Monture’s initiatives and attitudes. Through these case studies she also demonstrates the extent to which “performance is not unidirectional” taking into account audience reactions. Indeed, her sophisticated and enlightening use of the literature surrounding performance further deepens our understanding of this conceptual tool and also reveals the promise it holds for other historians who chose to apply it in their own fields of expertise.
Katherine McKenna. "Women's Agency in Upper Canada: Prescott's Board of Police Record, 1834-50," Histoire sociale/Social History
Katherine McKenna's perceptive use of a new documentary source, Police Records, has yielded novel and important insight into the lives of 'lower class' women in Upper Canada. This article offers us a compelling account of the differences between middle and lower class women, the public, transgressive behaviour of the latter group, and their determined efforts to use the law to secure redress and justice for themselves. Women of the common classes, she also shows, increasingly lost their ability to control community moral standards as the implementation of the law was concentrated in the hands of the town fathers. However patriarchal the letter of the law was, we cannot ignore the powerful force of lower class women's actions and "agency" as they attempted to use the local legal apparatus to carve out lives of dignity and security for themselves.
Pamela Sugiman. "Passing Time, Moving Memories: Interpreting Wartime Narratives of Japanese Canadian Women." Histoire sociale/Social History
Pamela Sugiman's account of the war time narratives of Japanese Canadian women weaves together oral histories, censored and stolen letters now in the hands of the state, as well as her own thoughts on memory making into a poignant and significant discussion of women's experiences during the period of wartime internment. Her discussion effectively probes the uses of oral history and also disrupts notions of Japanese women's silent accommodation to internment. On the contrary, she shows that women offered criticisms and resistance to internment policies which they knew were racist and discriminatory at their core.
Karen Duder. Public Acts and Private Languages: Bisexuality and the Multiple Discourses of Constance Grey Swartz in BC Studies, 136 (Winter 2002-3).
In a very strong competition, this article impressed committee members with its innovative theoretical discussion and use of one womans personal writings to make a major intervention in the history of sexuality. It explores the sexual and emotional relationships of Constance Grey Swartz between the 1920s and mid 1930s. Her sexuality, Duder argues, cannot be captured readily in the dominant approaches and questions posed within most writing in lesbian, gay and bisexual history. Duder draws on the rich writings she left to break down the polarities of hetero/homosexual and to offer readers tantalizing glimpses into the life of this middle-class British Columbian woman who, during her twenties and early thirties, relished relationships with male and female lovers.
Patricia Jasen, Malignant Histories: Psychosomatic Medicine and the Female Cancer Patient in Postwar America, Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, 20, 2 (November 2003).
Patricia Jasen's "Malignant Histories: Psychosomatic Medicine and the Female Cancer Patient in Postwar America" is a mature, compelling mix of theory and meticulous empirical work that concentrates primarily on medical discourses to provide a new understanding of the way in which postwar scientific "experts, created gendered explanations of the causes of cancer.
Renisa Mawani, "Regulating the 'Respectable' Classes: Venereal Disease, Gender, and Public Health Initiatives in Canada, 1914-35", in John McLaren, Robert Menzies and Dorothy E. Chunn (ed.), Regulating Lives: Historical Essays on the State, Society, the Individual and the Law (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2002): 170-95.
Among a number of strong candidates for the English-language Neatby prize, the committee concurred that Renisa Mawani's study was outstanding. Mawani reveals that anti-venereal disease campaigns represented much more than morally driven attack on loose women or a sanitary reformers' war on disease. In this lucid and persuasive article, the author shows that reformers used their state-funded campaign to pursue a much more ambitious aim. They wished to shape or reshape sexual desires so that the entire population would mirror a 'moral subject' who was white, middle class, heterosexual, married, and monogamous.
In this article, Mawani examines the anti-venereal campaign that was launched in Canada in the inter-war period. Taking her inspiration from Foucault's social regulation theories, her analysis of flyers, brochures and other documents disseminated by governmental, medical and religious authorities over the course of this period, shows very convincingly that this public health campaign was aimed not only at marginalized groups or those considered more "at risk," such as young single women or young working-class men, but also at the "respectable classes." Resting on solid argumentation, Mawani's article stresses that the ideas and the strategies deployed were aimed at regulating the sexual practices of all Canadians, men as well as women, a phenomenon that has generally been neglected by historians of the anti-venereal fight. While pointing out the persistence of the double sexual standard and the maintenance of a differentiated perception of venereal diseases and their control according to social class or membership group, Mawani clearly shows evidence of the highly moral character of the prevention campaigns and the manner in which they targeted the two sexes. This being the case, she puts the emphasis on doing away with gender boundaries and on the need to remain open to the alternative readings in our sources.
Susan Dalton, "Gender and the Shifting Ground of Revolutionary Politics: The Case of Madame Roland", Canadian Journal of History XXXVI (August 2001): 259-82.
Susan Dalton's use of gender to reinterpret women's political activity during the French Revolution is a polished, insightful and persuasive piece of historical scholarship. It casts new light on revolutionary politics, on gender norms and on the well-known literary and political figure Madame Marie-Jeanne Roland. Steeped in international feminist scholarship, Dalton offers a fresh view of Mme Roland's correspondence and her political involvement from 1788 to 1793. Mme Roland used the fluidity of French revolutionary society to adapt gender codes and thus combine her intense interest and participation in politics with her own sense of proper female behaviour. In three different guises of woman patriot, each corresponding to personal circumstances and stages of the revolution, Mme Roland successively incited revolution, formulated policy and reported on events. Dalton demonstrates that the changes in Mme Roland's ideas and actions, far from being expedient, represented an increasingly sophisticated understanding of society. None of this of course kept her from the guillotine, but her case, as interpreted by Susan Dalton, does provide us with a model of gender scholarship and perhaps even a model of political behaviour in troubled times.
Rianne Mahon, The Never-Ending Story: the Strugle for Universal Child Care Policy in the 1970s, Canadian Historical Review 81.4 (Dec. 2000): 582-615
The Mahon article is a major contribution to our understanding of the history of women's relation to federal policy making in Canada. Using the feminist demand and the economic necessity for universal child care as the angle of analysis, Mahon probes the intricacies of the federal bureaucracy. There, "state feminists" (federal civil servants with a feminist agenda) attempted to implement the child care recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Stautus of Women (1970) only to run afoul of tradition in the social policy arena. Upheld by both men and women bureaucrats, that tradition meant that ideas about the family, about welfare, about regional equity and about Quebec in Confederation took precedence over the feminist argument for women's equality with men.
Mahon's tight analysis, her lucid and convincing argument, make a triple contribution to women's history. The article reveals how day care became a federal policy issue in the 1970s. It displays the ideological and institutional barriers that feminists in the civil service encountered. And it throws an unusual light upon the relationship between the second wave egalitarian feminism of state feminists and the maternal/welfare concerns of the post-suffrage generations of women professionals.
Joan Sangster, Criminalizing the Colonized: Ontario Native Women Confront the Criminal Justice System, 1920-1960. Canadian Historical Review 80.1 (March 1999), 32-60.
In a richly descriptive account of her subject, Sangster argues that three crucial, interconnected factors contributed to the overincarceration of Native women: "The material and social dislocation precipitated by colonialism, the gender and race paternalism of court and penal personnel, and the related cultural gap between Native and Euro-Canadian value systems, articulating very different notions of crime and punishment." Her use of Mercer Reformatory case files allows her vividly to convey Native women's painful losses and the bitter injustices they suffered, while her extensive reading in anthropological, criminological, and psychological literature, old and new, allows her to explain the logic of both the Euro-Canadian justice system and Native Canadians' responses to it. Confirming the view that cultural difference underpinned the harms she describes, Sangster nonetheless avoids reductively dichotomizing "Native" and "Euro-Canadian" perspectives. With its scholarly and sensitive treatment of an important topic, this article makes a major contribution to Canadian women's history.
Elizabeth Smyth, Sandra Acker, Paula Bourne and Alison Prentice, eds., Challenging Professions: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Women's Professional Work. University of Toronto Press, 1999.
This collection is remarkable for the varied picture it offers of women in middle-class Canadian life in the twentieth century. Represented are many of the "women's" professions: nurses, nutritionists, social workers, nuns, and elementary school teachers. But also making an appearance are women in normatively masculine occupations, such as physicists, foresters, pharmacists, professors, accountants, preachers, and physicians. There is even an essay on a professional woman in the arts, composer Jean Coulthard. The lucid and scholarly introduction explains the important historical and political themes that arise when we study women professionals. With its rich array of stories and analysis, the anthology makes a convincing case that to study women in the professions is to learn about many of the ways in which gender and power were interconnected in the twentieth century.
Donald F. Davis and Barbara Lorenzkowski. A Platform for Gender Tensions: Women Working and Riding on Canadian Urban Public Transit in the 1940s. The Canadian Historical Review.
In this original article on women's occupation of public space in the public transit system during the Second World War, Davis and Lorenzkowski offer a fresh angle of view on women's wartime experience. They place gender at the centre of their analysis showing new ways in which, during wartime, some gender norms were broken, albeit temporarily. They are to be praised for their subtle and complex interpretation of how this very ordinary experience of riding buses offered a challenge to traditional values and ideas about women's nature.
Elsbeth Heaman, Taking the World by Show: Canadian Women as Exhibitors to 1900, Canadian Historical Review
Julie Guard, "Fair Play or Fair Pay? Gender Relations, Class Consciousness, and Union Solidarity in the Canadian UE"
Raelene Frances, Linda Kealey and Joan Sangster, Women and Wage Labour in Australia and Canada, 1880-1980
Joy Parr, Gender History and Historical Practice
Rusty Bittermann, Women and the Escheat Movement: The Politics of Everyday life on Prince Edward Island
Joan Sangster, The Softball Solution: Female Workers, Male Managers and the Operation of Paternalism at Westclox, 1923-1960
Suzanne Morton, Women on Their Own: Single Mothers in Working Class Halifax in the 1920s
Dyan Elliott, "Dress as Mediator Between Inner and Outer self: The Pious Matron of the high and Later Middle Ages", in Mediaeval Studies, 53 (1991)
Ruth Roach Pierson, Gender and the Unemployment Insurance Debates in Canada, 1934-1940
Judith Fingard, "College, Career, and Community: Dalhousie Coeds, 1881-1921", Youth, University, and Canadian Society, 1989.
E. Patricia Tsurumi, "Serving in Japan's Industrial Army: Female Textile Workers, 1868-1930", Canadian Journal of History, August 1988.
Joy Parr, "The Skilled Emigrant and her Kin: Gender, Culture and Labour Recruitment", Canadian Historical Review, December 1987.
Franca Iacovetta, "From Contadina to Worker in Toronto, 1947-62", Looking Into My Sisters' Eyes: An Exploration in Women's History, The M.H.S.O., 1986, pp. 195-223.
Diana Pedersen & Martha Phemister, "Women and Photography in Ontario, 1839- 1929", in special issue of Scientia Scientia Canadensis on "Women, Technology and Medicine in Canada", volume 9, number 1.
Susan Mann Trofimenkoff, "Feminist Biography", Atlantis, volume 10, number 2.