Archeion & Women’s History in Ontario

By Jazmine Aldrich

Archeion Coordinator, Archives Association of Ontario (AAO)

Archeion, an online archival information database maintained by the Archives Association of Ontario (AAO), can help you discover histories of ordinary and extraordinary women from all walks of life. It acts as a directory for Ontario’s archival resources and the institutions that maintain them. Members of the AAO contribute descriptions of their archival holdings to Archeion, as well as descriptions of the creators of those archival holdings and information about the collecting institution. These records cross time, space, and all manner of subject matter. A quick survey of the records in Archeion offers tales of an Ontario rich in women’s history…

Carroll Holland was born in Windsor on July 3, 1942, and was an activist for LGBTQ2+ rights, as well as for other human rights causes and the peace movement. Her activism was partly informed by her intersecting identities as both a lesbian and a Buddhist. She was also a writer and a journalist. Much of her activism is documented in the Carroll Holland Fonds held at the ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archives.

The Concerned Farm Women fonds at Bruce County Archives describes the involvement of Ontario women in agriculture and advocacy in the 1980s. The Concerned Farm Women lobbied for government support for family farms facing financial crisis, and underlined the psychological toll that their destitute situation was taking on Ontario’s agricultural families.

Dr. Clara Cynthia Benson was the first woman to obtain a B.A. in chemistry from the University of Toronto in 1899, and was one of the first two women to earn a Ph.D. from the University in 1903. She then taught in the University’s Department of Food Chemistry until her retirement as Professor Emeritus in 1945. Much of her personal life is documented in the Benson family fonds at the Archives of Ontario.

Nearly 350 Women’s Institute (WI) branches are described amidst the People and organizations in Archeion. Adelaide Hoodless is associated with domestic education for women and girls, and with founding the WI movement in February 1897 at Stoney Creek, ON. The Adelaide Hoodless Family Papers are preserved at the University of Guelph Library. The movement she inspired is well-documented in the archival records of WI branches across the province.

Archeion is not restricted to women of the past, however — it equally documents the lives of women like Jean Augustine, the first African-Canadian woman to be elected to Canadian Parliament. The Jean Augustine fonds held by York University Archives & Special Collections details the many eras of Augustine’s career in education and her political life.

There is no end to the research possibilities when it comes to Archeion and the history of women in Ontario. If you have questions about finding records in Archeion, please contact me at