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Archival description
University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services Clara Cynthia Benson fonds
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Clara Cynthia Benson fonds

  • UTA 1052
  • Fonds
  • [186-] - 1964

These personal records consist mainly of records documenting Clara Benson’s non-professional activities such as work with the Women’s Athletic Association of the University of Toronto, the YWCA and her relationship with family members and friends. The personal correspondence in Series 2 provides the most detailed information about her relationship with family, friends and activities. Letters from her parents and siblings provide an insight into her activities and progress at the University of Toronto during her undergraduate years. A few letters, however, will be found from colleagues at the university such as Prof. A.B. Macallum, Prof. Annie Laird and others.

Unfortunately documentation relating to her academic activities is limited to some correspondence and notes found in Series 5 relating to her efforts from 1920s onwards to have the Women’s Athletic Building built. Her early education in Port Hope is documented in the school books, essays and other records in Series 4. Series 4 also contains her framed diplomas for B.A. and Ph.D. No manuscripts of her publications, including her Ph D. thesis appear to have survived. The lecture notes in Series 7 do provide some indication of the content of her courses in food chemistry, and were probably used repeatedly, year after year.

Dr. Benson also recorded her travel and sightseeing activities both abroad and in Canada on film. Series 10 contains 50 rolls of 16mm film documenting her trips to Egypt (1926), England (1937 and late 1940’s and early 1950’s), South America (1939) and the United States (1939, 1948). Some of her leisure time, both while at the University of Toronto and after her retirement, was spent filming events and scenery in Toronto in general, and the University in particular, as well as her family at home in Port Hope.

Benson, Clara Cynthia

Film

Over several decades, Clara Benson took numerous rolls of 16 mm film documenting her family, her trips, as well as life in Toronto especially during World War II, the University of Toronto and various events. Her collection includes some unique footage of women’s sports at the University of Toronto, convocation ceremonies in the 1940s, and skating shows, one of which identified Barbara Ann Scott. From her trips, there is interesting footage of Egypt and Greece in the late 1920s, the New York World Fair and South America in 1939 as well as Atlantic City in the late 1940s. There are several small rolls of film documenting military parades on the streets of Toronto as well as the Royal Visit of 1939 and 1959.