Manuscript Collection MS COLL 00171 - Alan Jarvis Papers

Identity area

Reference code



Alan Jarvis Papers


  • 1933-1972 (Creation)

Level of description

Manuscript Collection

Extent and medium

68 boxes and items

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Alan Hepburn Jarvis was born in Brantford, Ont., on July 26, 1915. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1938 with a combined degree in Philosophy and Psychology. After his graduation, he went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, specializing in aesthetics. During and after the war, he largely worked in England in a variety of jobs. He returned to Canada in 1955 to become the Director of the National Gallery in Ottawa. He resigned in 1959 and shortly thereafter became editor of Canadian Arts Magazine (later ArtsCanada). In 1961, he became National Director of the Canadian Conference of the Arts. For the last 10 years of his life, he freelanced as a writer, sculptor and arts consultant. He died in 1972.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gift of the Alan Jarvis estate, 1973.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The collection covers the personal and professional life of Jarvis. It contains general and business correspondence, typescripts, magazine articles, minutes of meetings, newspaper clippings and photographs. Much of the early correspondence consists of letters Jarvis wrote home to his family while he was at Oxford (1938-39) and while he was working in Britain (1942-55).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Material may be requested in person at the Fisher Library Reference Desk, or in advance using our online stack retrieval request form:

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Uploaded finding aid

Allied materials area

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Description control area

Description identifier


Institution identifier

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

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