Fonds F24 - Donald Theall fonds

Identity area

Reference code

CA ON00389 F24


Donald Theall fonds


  • 1942-2008 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

12m of mixed media, primarily textual records

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born in Mount Vernon, New York, Theall received his Bachelor of Arts from Yale University in 1950, and then his Master of Arts and Doctorate from the University of Toronto in 1951 and 1954. Theall married Joan Ada Benedict in 1950, with whom he had six children: Thomas, Margaret Rose, John, Harold, Lawrence, and Michael. He was the grandfather of Stephen, William, and Katie. Theall passed away on May 15, 2008, from cancer.

Theall worked at the University of Toronto from 1953 to 1965, starting as a lecturer and ending as a professor. He became chair of the combined Departments of English during his last year at UofT. Following that he worked at McGill University from 1966 to 1973 as the chairman and Molson professor, and then from 1974 to 1987 as the founding director and Molson professor with the graduate program in communications. In addition, he became the president and vice-chancellor of Trent University from 1980 to 1987. After he became a professor until 1994 when he retired with emeritus status.

From 1967-1971, Theall was co-director of the National Film Board of Canada/McGill University Summer School on Media. In 1974, he was the first cultural exchange professor between Canada and China. Afterwards, he was on the Board of Directors for the International Communication Association from 1979-81 and was the founding president of the Canadian Communication Association from 1978-80.

Theall is well-known for his work on James Joyce’s Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. He is described as the “pioneer in computing in the humanities.” He also worked on communication theory, Marshall McLuhan, poetic theory, T.S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, science fiction, film theory, Alexander Pope, satire, Harold Innis, virtual reality (VR), and Cyberspace.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Originally acquired by USMC Archives but transferred to Special Collections because of heterogeneous contents.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consist of archival materials received by Joan Theall, belonging to Donald Theall. The archival material is dated from the 1940s-2008. They include correspondences, articles, recordings, conference papers, and presentations.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Materials are being processed but may be made available upon researcher request.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

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Description control area

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Created by T Wong, 12 February 2024
Revised by C Le Fèvre, 12 February 2024




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