Fonds 1954 - Joseph Stanley Will fonds

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UTA 1954


Joseph Stanley Will fonds


  • 1900-1959 (Creation)

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2.0 m of textual and graphic records (16 boxes)

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Biographical history

Joseph Stanley Will was born in 1874 in Newmarket, Ontario, the son of Rev. P.D. Will and Caroline Anne Collins, who married in 1866. He attended University College at the University of Toronto from 1894 to 1897 where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree. He studied for his doctorate at Columbia University in New York where his thesis was on Protestantism in France and received his degree in 1921. Before joining the University of Toronto, he taught at Manitoba College, Winnipeg and Dartmouth College, Hanover N.H. In August, 1938 at the age of 64 he married Esther Margaret Berry, another U of T alumnus (BA 1932, MA 1935), and they had two children, Richard Drake, and Joseph Jr. He retired as professor emeritus in 1945. He died in Toronto on June 1, 1964.

He was appointed Lecturer in the Department of French at the University of Toronto in 1910. Two years later he was promoted to Associate Professor and by 1916 he had attained the position of Professor. In 1921 he took a 15 month leave of absence to study in Paris and returned to Toronto in 1922. As a result of this sabbatical Prof. Will gave interviews and lectures on his research as well as his impressions of France. In 1933 he gave a series of ten lectures on 19th Century French Literature at University College. The Varsity reported on October 12, 1933 that Prof. Will did not chose the topic of the lectures. Instead it “has been a request of the college as part of the regular lecture programme – and a permanent air is given to the whole series of lectures”.

Prof. Will was best known for his book Protestantism in France Volume 2 (1598-1629) published by the University of Toronto Press in 1921. It was based on his doctoral thesis and was intended as a multi-volume series. As he states in the Preface to Protestantism in France, “Volume I of this study…deals with the sixteenth century, volume II with the reigns of Henry IV and Louis XIII, volume III with the attempt of Louis XIV to establish religious unity and the results of that attempt in the eighteenth century”. Other publications included “Comparative literature; its meaning and scope” reprinted from the University of Toronto Quarterly, Vol. VIII, No. 2, January 1939, and a review of “The reconstruction of the original Chanson de Roland” by Frederick Bliss Luquiens in 1910.

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The records in this fonds consist of a single accession and appear to be all that have survived documenting the academic life of Prof. Joseph Stanley Will. Originally received by the Rare Book Department (MS Collection No. 33) of the University of Toronto Library after Prof. Will’s death in 1964, they were transferred to the University Archives in 2004. They appear to have been part of a larger purchase of Prof. Will’s collection of 16th century books mainly on France. The papers consist of some correspondence and a few manuscripts and other personal papers. By far the bulk of the Fonds consist of card files compiled during the many years he researched Protestantism in France in particular and French literature in general. Unfortunately, the original arrangement of these card files was disturbed and some cards are not in any apparent order. Apart from the manuscript for what appears to be the first four chapters of the unpublished Volume I, no other manuscripts for Prof. Will’s other works are contained within this accession.

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