Fonds F2087 - Willard Oxtoby fonds

Identity area

Reference code



Willard Oxtoby fonds


  • [188-] - 2003 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

15.75 m of textual and other records

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Willard Gurdon Oxtoby was a scholar of religion and a professor at Trinity College from 1971 until 1999. Oxtoby was born 29 July 1933 in Kentfield, California to Gurdon C. Ox-toby and Miriam Burrell Oxtoby. Willard Oxtoby graduated with a B.A. in philosophy from Stanford University in 1955. He then attended Princeton University where he re-ceived an M.A. and a Ph.D. in 1962. From 1958 to 1960 he worked in Jerusalem as part of the team that studied the Dead Sea Scrolls. In 1963 he was ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church.

Oxtoby’s first teaching appointment was in the Faculty of Divinity at McGill University where he taught a course on Jerusalem, among others, from 1960 to 1964. Oxtoby then undertook postdoctoral studies in Ancient Near Eastern Studies and Comparative Reli-gion at Harvard where he also held a teaching fellowship. From 1966 to 1971 Oxtoby was an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Yale and from 1971 until his retire-ment in 1999 he was a professor of the study of religion at Trinity College, University of Toronto. While at the University of Toronto Oxtoby founded the Centre for Religious Studies in the School of Graduate Studies and served as its director from 1976 to 1981. Oxtoby also served as a member of the Advisory Council of the Department of Religion at Princeton University from 1971 to 1984 and served as President of the Canadian In-stitute for Advanced Islamic Research from 1984 to 1992. In 1964 Oxtoby was elected to the American Society for the Study of Religion; he served as the Society’s Vice President from 1984 to 1987 and President from 1990 to 1993.

Willard Oxtoby’s publications include The Meaning of Other Faiths (1983), Moral Enlighten-ment: Leibniz and Wolff on China (1992) (with Julia Ching), World Religions: Western Traditions (1996) and World Religions: Eastern Traditions (1996). Oxtoby also edited the American Academy of Religion’s Monograph Series AAR Studies in Religion (1969-1970) and was a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Religious Pluralism.

In 1958 Willard Oxtoby married Layla Jurji, and they had two children, David (b. 1960) and Susan (b. 1963). Layla Jurji died in 1980 and in 1981 Oxtoby married Julia Ching, a scholar of Chinese philosophy and religion and a professor at the University of Toronto. Julia Ching died on 26 October 2001 and Oxtoby died on 6 March 2003 in Toronto

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Received in four accessions from the Oxtoby family.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds contains correspondence, journals, magazines, and newsletters used for re-search; drafts and manuscripts of articles and books by Willard Oxtoby, Julia Ching, and others. Fonds also includes conference materials such as schedules, planning docu-ments, and submitted essays. Published materials including pamphlets, serials and in-formation booklets, most relating to the Middle East, are included. Files include news-paper clippings; course syllabi and lectures notes for courses taught by Oxtoby; as well as personal keepsakes, photographs and cassette tapes.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


None expected

System of arrangement

Arranged by the archivist into eleven series

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Some restrictions on access as indicated in the finding aid.

Conditions governing reproduction

Various copyright holders. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission to publish any part of the fonds.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Finding aid attached

Uploaded finding aid

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Notes area


Physical description: Includes 290 photographs, 87 sound recordings, and 160 electronic records

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Rules and/or conventions used


  • English



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