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Dr. Alison Prentice is a well known and distinguished Canadian historian specializing in the study of the history of education and women’s history. She was born in Deleware in 1934 and twenty years after her family immigrated to Canada, she became a Canadian citizen in 1959. Her undergraduate years were spent attending Smith College in Massachusetts where she obtained a B.A. in 1955. She graduated from the University of Toronto with her M.A. in 1958 and after years of periodic study, research and teaching, she graduated with a Ph.D. from the same institution in 1974. From 1972-1975, she held a teaching position at Atkinson College, York University, where she taught the first course in Canada on women’s history. In 1975, Prof. Prentice joined the faculty at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, Department of History and Philosophy, as the first female tenure-stream member. In 1983, she was appointed Professor. Upon her retirement from the University of Toronto in 1998, she was made Professor Emeritus.
Throughout her lengthy career, she established herself as a pioneer in both the study of the history of education and women’s history often combining the two areas of research. She was instrumental in establishing the women’s history program at OISE and in 1983 founded the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education. Through the Canadian Women’s History Project, she initiated the collective endeavour that produced the first university-level textbook in Canadian women’s history, Canadian Women: A History (1st edition 1988 ; 2nd edition 1996). She has authored, co-authored, contributed and/or edited over 30 books and has published over 30 articles and reviews in addition to giving countless lectures, seminars and talks.
Prof. Prentice has received many honours and she has been awarded for her scholarly work. Throughout the years, specific works have received awards including the Founder’s Prize for best women’s studies article (1986) and again for best anthology on the history of education in Canada (1992), as well as the Hilda Neatby Prize for best article in Canadian women’s history (1987). In 1992 her book Schooling and Scholars in Nineteenth-Century Ontario co-authored with Susan Houston won the Book Prize from the Canadian Association for Foundations in Education. She has received two honorary doctorates, one each from the University of Guelph in 1993 and the University of Western Ontario in 1998. Also in 1998, the year of her retirement from the University of Toronto, the Ontario Historical Society honoured her by creating the Alison Prentice prize for best book in women’s history. In that same year, she was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada..
Alison Prentice lives with her husband, retired Physicist James Prentice in Victoria, B.C.. She continues to do research and remains Adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria.