A Public School System reflects the current views and values of society at any given time. Students are sent to schools to learn what that society deems they should know to function in that society. At the turn of the century, most women were homemakers. Few held jobs outside the home. For many years the learning of females was restricted by society’s beliefs that they only needed to focus on narrow areas of study or by beliefs that some areas of study were beyond their abilities. For some students, especially immigrant children in the core area schools of Winnipeg, there were more, almost unstated, limitations that these children should focus on becoming ”Canadian” which would mean a basic emphasis on learning to read and write English.
Throughout the twentieth century, circumstances such as the two World Wars forced women into a wide range of work which had been traditionally done by men. Once the perceptions of what women were capable of learning and doing shifted, the education system’s curricula changed for women.
Today all areas of study are open to women throughout their entire public schooling. Additionally, all areas of study at universities or colleges are available to both men and women.
Collection Identifier: MSS 121, PC 124
Title: Spencer Family fonds
Extent: 64 cm of textual records. -- 505 photographs.
Biographical Sketch: Percy Spencer was born in England and came to Canada in the 1880s. He homesteaded in the Russell area, where he and his wife had seven children. One of his daughters, Lucy, became a R.N. in 1931. Her diaries are particularly interesting for what they reveal about women's education and careers in the first part of the twentieth century. Scholars in the fields of Women's Studies and History will find useful information in these diaries. Historians will also find the diaries of kept by Percy Spencer himself very useful. He wrote consistently and over a long period of time on the difficulties of homesteading.
Digitized Material: The digitized material from the Spencer Family fonds consists of diaries written by Lucy Spencer, which reflect the status of women's education in the early-1900s, her nursing certificate, and photographs of her graduating class.