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Ursula Martius Franklin fonds
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Ursula Martius Franklin fonds

  • UTA 1287
  • Fonds
  • 1934-2014 [predominant 1945-2014]

Fonds consists of records documenting the personal, professional, and public life of Dr. Ursula Franklin, physicist, engineer, materials scientists, pacifist and feminist. Records document Dr. Franklin’s early life and career, later employment by the University of Toronto, awards and honorary degrees, teaching, research process and output, publishing activities, travel, service on national scientific boards, work with the CBC, peace work with the Quakers and Voice of Women, as well as other advocacy and activism.

A series of chronological files documents Dr. Franklin’s speeches, talks and attendance at a variety of academic and community events. Fonds also includes a significant amount of correspondence with colleagues, family, friends, fellow activists and ordinary citizens, as well as electronic copies of more than 575 pages of surveillance of Dr. Franklin by the RCMP. One series also documents a wide range of matters at the University of Toronto relating to Massey College, Museum Studies, the SLOWPOKE Reactor, and other matters. Yet another series documents Dr. Franklin’s involvement with the Ursula Franklin Academy.

Records include day planners, notebooks, correspondence, publications, news clippings, reports, drafts, research data and notes, background material, photographs, sound and moving image recordings and some copies of government documents and records.

See series and subseries descriptions for more detail.

Franklin, Ursula Martius


Series consists of records relating to Dr. Franklin’s teaching duties. One course in particular is very well documented – JAM 2012: Ancient Materials. According to Dr. Franklin, this course was quite innovative. It was intended for incoming graduate students in Anthropology or Materials Engineering, taught through the School of Graduate Studies. The respective departments – Archeology and Anthropology and Materials Engineering MMS - carried the JAM courses in their calendars. The students worked together in pairs, one student from each discipline. In contrast to the usual joint courses taught by different staff members in a sequence of individually-taught sections, the JAM courses were truly co-taught, i.e. both instructors were present at all sessions, which consisted of annotated conversation between two professionals, linking theory and practice.

Records in the series include course and project descriptions, exam questions, lecture notes, and student projects. The series also includes an extensive collection of teaching aids, including teaching slides (depicting museum/archaeological artifacts), 4 boxes of micrographs, and several boxes of artifacts used in instruction, including various rocks, Chinese spade coins, Canadian coins and stamps, and metal samples.

This series also contains 2 files on students who were supervised by Dr. Franklin.


Subseries consists of records pertaining to particular colleagues with whom Dr. Franklin worked closely at different points in her career, including Debbie Garfinkel (from the Collegium Archaeometricum and University of Toronto), J.E. Rehder (Senior Research Associate in the Department of Metallurgy and Materials Science, University of Toronto), Moain Sadeq (a Palestinian expert in archaeology and Islamic art history), and Bruce Trigger (archaeologist/anthropologist at McGill). Records include correspondence, copies and drafts of papers, and research records.

The subseries also provides extensive documentation of work done with/by Vanda Vitali, who was one of Dr. Franklin’s PhD students and went on to be a colleague. Dr. Vitali worked with Dr. Franklin as a research assistant, and later on the Carthage project. Records include her CV, correspondence, thesis and research notes, and papers and drafts, articles.

Subseries also contains a number of files regarding Zdenka Volavka, Professor in Fine Arts at York University and specialist of African art and artifacts. Files contain correspondence, research material and data, notes, and academic work. Some files also include micrographs and samples.

Museum Studies

Subseries consists of records relating to various activities in the Museum Studies Program, especially during Dr. Franklin’s tenure as Director (1987-1989). Records include minutes of the Program Committee and Advisory Committee, correspondence, planning documents, event announcements, an annual activity report from the program (1988-1989), a five-year review (2000), and the press release from Dr. Franklin’s appointment. Subseries also includes a file of notes and announcements relating to various lectures and talks, including the Museum Studies Symposium, Towards an Ecology of Knowledge (1996).

RCMP files

In 2013, a researcher studying the Voice of Women requested the RCMP files of many of the women involved in the group, including Dr. Franklin. Redacted copies of the files were supplied by Library and Archives Canada and subsequently shared with Dr. Franklin. Subseries consists of 5 PDF files (577 pages) documenting the extensive file the RCMP kept on Dr. Franklin from 1949-1984. It is presumed that more recent records were withheld for privacy reasons.

German academic life

Subseries consists of records relating to Dr. Franklin’s early academic life (as Ursula Maria Martius) when she was studying experimental physics at the Technical University of Berlin. Records include academic correspondence, drafts of her PhD thesis, “Die Anregung von Leuchtstoffen mit Gammastrahlen und Röntgenstrahlen verschiedener Wellenlänge” (1948), as well as the academic work of some of her colleagues, including Immanuel Broser, Hartmut Kallmann and R. Warminsky.

Ursula Franklin Academy

Series consists of records relating to Ursula Franklin Academy, a secondary school operated by the Toronto District School Board and founded in 1995. The school originally operated out of the former Brockton High School and moved to Western Technical-Commercial School in 2002. The school was named after Dr. Franklin and is modeled on her vision of education.

Records in this series primarily document the founding and early days of the school, including correspondence, information packages, and materials from the school opening. Some files relate to the school’s ongoing activities, and conversations about education method, as documented in newsletters, event notices, and some correspondence. Series also includes matted photographs from the opening of the school, including photographs of Dr. Franklin with Jane Jacobs.

Sound recordings

Series consists of audio recordings documenting a wide range of Dr. Franklin’s activities, including speeches, talks, keynotes, and interviews. Some tapes also document CBC Ideas radio shows, including raw tapes and copies of broadcasts, including tapes of Dr. Franklin’s Massey Lectures, The Real World of Technology.

Moving images

Series consists of video and DVD recordings documenting Dr. Franklin’s speeches, talks, keynotes, interviews and honorary degrees. Series also includes films and television shows in which Dr. Franklin appears.

Book collection at UTM

This small series consists of records relating to the collection of books on feminism and women’s studies that Dr. Franklin donated to UTM (The University of Toronto Mississauga) for use by their Women’s Studies Program. Series consists of 1 file containing a list of the books and the transcript of a tape recording where Dr. Franklin details the significance of her books and the ways in which her collecting practices reflect her own particular feminist politics.


Series consists of records relating to Dr. Franklin’s publishing activities. See subseries descriptions for more information.

Publicity and public education

Series consist of records relating to Dr. Franklin’s appearances in the media, including news clippings on Dr. Franklin and her work and activism; records relating to print, TV and radio interviews and appearances; and work done with CBC Ideas, including her 1989 Massey Lectures, The Real World of Technology. See subseries descriptions for more information.


Series consists of records documenting Dr. Franklin’s research activities in physics, materials science, archaeometry, and museums. See subseries for more information.

Other advocacy and activism

Series consists of records relating to a wide range of advocacy and activism undertaken by Dr. Franklin throughout her life, including work against the amalgamation of Toronto, and testimony at the Toronto Board of Education public education hearings. Subseries also includes some background material and correspondence on aboriginal knowledge and rights. 3 files contain public literature distributed by Canada’s right wing and hate groups, some direct attacks on the kinds of groups with which Dr. Franklin worked.

Several files pertain to Aleksandra Vinogradov’s 1988 compliant of discrimination against the University of Calgary, in regards to her treatment as a candidate for an appointment in its Department of Civil Engineering. Records in these files include letters of support, news clippings, newsletters from The Aleksandra Vinogradov Defence Committee, and a report by the CAUT (Canadian Association of University Teachers’) Committee of Inquiry into the matter. Files also contain various legal documents, including judgments and appeals.

Another file relates to the court case of Donna Smythe, a well-known Canadian writer and professor English at Acadia University, who was charged with libel by Professor Leo Yaffe, professor of chemistry at McGill University, because of an op/ed signed editorial that Dr. Smythe wrote. According to Dr. Franklin, Smythe had commented on a talk given by Dr. Yaffe on “The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear”. The uranium mining industry in Nova Scotia used this case to try to destroy the citizen’s group in which Dr. Smythe and Dr. Gillian Thomas were very active. The group, many of them farmers, was struggling to have uranium mining prohibited in Nova Scotia because of the potential damage to water and soil. In spite of Dr. Franklin’s efforts to mediate between Dr. Yaffe and Smythe, the case came to trial before jury in Halifax. Yaffee claimed that Dr. Smythe’s article questioned his professional judgment. Dr. Franklin appeared as a witness on behalf of Dr. Smythe. Dr. Franklin relied on documents on academic promotion and tenure used in Canadian universities and could show that newspaper articles, be they positive or negative, were not considered evidence on which to base professional qualifications. The jury ruled that Dr. Yaffe’s reputation had not been damaged and that there were no grounds for libel. In spite of this positive verdict, the citizen’s group was destroyed for all practical purposes and during the two years prior to the trial had not been able to mount any political action. CBC’s Ideas covered some of the trial together with a libel suit against the CBC’s Max Allen regarding his program on lead pollution (Give Us This Day Our Daily Lead).

University of Toronto

Series consists of records relating to Dr. Franklin’s various activities and functions within the University of Toronto, especially as Director of Museum Studies (1987-1989) and Senior Fellow at Massey College (1989-). Records tend to reflect administrative activities, but also include some advocacy done within the university. See subseries descriptions for more information.

Scientific organizations and commissions

Series consists of records relating to Dr. Franklin’s membership and participation in several national scientific organizations, including the Science Council of Canada, the National Research Council, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. One subseries also documents research and work done for the Ontario Commission of Inquiry on Aluminum Wiring. See subseries descriptions for more detail.

Energy and nuclear issues

Series consists of records relating to Dr. Franklin’s various interests and activities around energy policies and practices, especially regarding the dangers of nuclear technologies. These files pertain to Dr. Franklin’s involvement with a number of groups, and pertain to a number of initiatives. See subseries descriptions for more information

Peace work

Series consists of records relating to Dr. Franklin’s pacifism and peace work, including her work as a Quaker, a key member of Voice of Women, and in other capacities. This series provides excellent documentation of segments of the Canadian peace movement, especially from the 1960s through to the 1980s. See subseries descriptions for more detail.


Series consists of records relating to 2 trips taken by Dr. Franklin: her return to Berlin in 1969 for the World Peace Congress, and her trip to China in 1981 for the International Conference of Early Metallurgy. See subseries descriptions for more information.


Series consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence between Dr. Franklin and friends, family, colleagues, government officials, and others. Correspondence pertains to the full scope of Dr. Franklin’s life and work, including her academic work, her political activism, and her personal life.

Day planners

Series consists of day planners and organizers kept by Dr. Franklin throughout much of her career. The planners typically contain a list of appointments and activities for each day. Some planners also include notes and recollections. Dr. Franklin often kept extra material tucked into in the planners, which reflect her activities during that given month. This material includes news clippings, letters, event programs, invitations, newsletters, address books, drawings by her children, business cards, and photographs.

Notes and notebooks

Series consists of various notes and notebooks kept by Dr. Franklin. These notebooks are typically unlabeled/titled, and often undated. The notes they contain pertain to a wide scope of matters, and are not particularly organized.

Chronology files (keynotes, lectures, talks)

Series consists of what Dr. Franklin referred to as her ‘chronology files’: files kept on various events she attended – most of which she spoke at. Events include academic conferences, guest lectures, government meetings and hearings, public talks to community and religious groups, memorials, press conferences and panels.

Topics covered include science policy, technology, materials science, archaeometry, museums, women in engineering and science, the state of higher learning, the commercialization of universities, education, peace and violence, military research, human rights, feminism, faith, the nature of research, energy policy and the environment, and opposition to nuclear technology.

Records include correspondence, paper abstracts, notes, programs, brochures, posters, proceedings news coverage, transparencies, and contracts. Dr. Franklin typically spoke from handwritten notes, rather than a typed script. Where a transcript exists, the file title includes the word ‘[transcript]’. Occasionally, ‘transcript’ denotes the original text/paper created before the talk (ex: for the presentation of academic papers), but for the most case, these are transcripts sent to her after-the-fact by event organizers. Where Dr. Franklin’s speaking notes are typed and more coherent/complete, the file title will include the term ‘[typed notes’].

Series also includes files kept on declined speaking events, conferences, symposia, seminars, councils and focus groups.

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