Mossie May Waddington Kirkwood

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Mossie May Waddington Kirkwood

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Mossie May Waddington was born in Toronto, Ontario, on 6 February 1890 to Herbert and Edna (née Dell) Waddington. She attended St Clement’s School and in 1907 matriculated at Trinity College. Waddington received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1911 in English and History, with the Classical option. She next received her MA degree in English from the University of Toronto in 1913.

In 1915, due to the First World War and the consequent absence of men, she was asked to replace a Greek lecturer at Trinity College and later taught Latin as well. In 1919 she achieved a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Toronto. In the same year Waddington became a lecturer in English at University College, the first woman to hold a permanent teaching position in something other than household science or modern languages. She served as the head of the University College Women’s Union from 1921 until 1923. From 1923 until 1929 she acted as the first Dean of Women at University College. In 1933 she was elected President of the University Women’s Club, but resigned from it in 1936, along with her professorship at University College. In this year she returned to Trinity College as Principal of St Hilda’s and Dean of Women as well as Associate Professor of English. She was an advocate for women’s education and the right for them to have satisfying lives and careers. She also gave evening lectures for women interested in continuing their studies.

In 1953 Kirkwood resigned from her administrative duties but remained in the English Department at Trinity as the first woman to hold a full professorship, and when she retired in 1960 she became the first woman to be named Professor Emeritus. In September of that year the north wing of St Hilda’s College was opened and named in her honour. In 1977
Trinity College bestowed upon her the degree of Doctor of Sacred Letters (honoris causa). Kirkwood was also the author of several books: The Development of British Thought, 1820-1890 (her doctoral dissertation); Duty and Happiness in a Changed World; Women in the Machine Age; For College Women and Men; and Santayana, Saint of the Imagination.

She married William Alexander Kirkwood in August 1923. William A. Kirkwood was born at Rockside in Peel County, Ontario, in April 1873. He attended public and high school in Brampton before attending the University of Toronto where he received an MA in Classics. William A. Kirkwood then went on to study at the University of Chicago and Harvard
University, earning his doctorate. Kirkwood taught high school in Walkerton, Ontario, in 1896 and at Ridley College in St Catharines from 1897 to 1903. In 1909 he became a lecturer in Classics at Trinity College, a position he held until 1939. Kirkwood served as Registrar at Trinity College from 1914 to 1923, Dean of Arts from 1924 to 1943, and Clerk of Convocation from 1939 until his retirement.

Mossie May Kirkwood and William Alexander Kirkwood had three children. David H.W. Kirkwood was born 8 August 1924 and graduated with a BA in Physics from Trinity College in 1945. He married Diana in 1953. Naomi E.M. Kirkwood was born 30 March 1928 and graduated from Trinity College in 1949 (BA in Modern History and Languages) before marrying Tilo Kuhn in 1956. John M.M. Kirkwood was born 7 June 1934 and graduated from Trinity College in 1956.

William A. Kirkwood died 15 October 1960 in Toronto and Mossie May Kirkwood died 19 May 1985.


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