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Clara Cynthia Benson fonds
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Benson Family

This series contains assorted files relating to the Benson family in general and Dr. Benson’s parents in particular. Included are records relating to the family property in Port Hope, estate papers for her father Judge Thomas Benson, correspondence between Judge Benson and his second wife, Laura Fuller Benson (Clara Benson’s mother), account records for the management of the house and property in Port Hope.

B2010-0008 contains mainly family papers. Included are records relating to Clara Benson’s sister Emily C. Morris, including estate correspondence. Other members of the Morris family for which there are records: William Morris and Alexander Morris. Correspondence, wills, clippings and memorabilia also document Benson family members, particularly Thomas Bengley Benson, son of Thomas Moore Benson and Laura Fuller. Many of the records relate to his work as a naval architect and yacht broker as well as his estate of which Clara Benson was executor. Finally there are drawings and some financial records relating to the family home in Port Hope – Terralta.

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

Other activities

In 1921, Dr. Benson was elected the first president of the Women’s Athletic Association of University of Toronto and was involved from the beginning in the campaign to build an athletic building for women. Among the records relating to this activity are correspondence, notes, financial statements and blueprints of proposed buildings. Also included in this series are correspondence, minutes and reports relating to her work as Chair of the Foreign Committee of the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) focusing primarily on an international survey on leadership (1930-1932). Other documents include two undated and unsigned manuscripts of stories, a collection of cards acquired during a trip to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, and a scrapbook of pressed flowers with identification collected by Clara Benson ca 1890’s.