Notes on Lectures
Toronto, Canada: 1891-1895. Half roan over marbled boards, measuring 8.25 x 10 inches and comprised of 112 pages -- mostly in manuscript but also including extensive pasted-in articles with an additional 12 loosely inserted. Ownership label to the front endpaper for Stella M. Butterfield of 8 Orde St. in Toronto. Initiated when she was 25 years old, this manuscript notebook documents four years of lectures and events which Stella Butterfield (b. 1866) not only attended but actively engaged with. It provides insight into the diversity of educational and cultural opportunities offered in Toronto and Ontario, as well as how increased mobility due to rail systems made it possible for women like Stella to move beyond their own neighborhood schools to continue their learning.
Listed as a manufacterer in the 1871 Census, Stella's father Samuel Butterfield likely emigrated to Canada for improved employment opportunities. For Stella, at least, the result was a young adulthood spent in a thriving metropolitan area, where the rapidly growing population and economy had demanded the creation of streetcar and rail lines that made it convenient to travel in and out of Toronto. The present notebook shows how Stella took advantage of these things, making her way to lectures hosted by the University of Toronto, the Elm Street Methodist Church, the Metropolitan Center, Ontario College, Cooke's Presbyterian Church and other locales. The topics documented in the book are varied certainly; and they include things such as "Lecture on China" by Mr. Cromby a returned missionary, "In Search of an Education" by African Prince Momolu Massaquoy at the National Education Association Convention, numerous lectures about Ireland and Scotland's pursuit of independence, and lessons on close reading and critique of works by Shakespeare and Browning. They are upon close consideration all tied together by threads of social and political activism, and science and humanities education. Stella seemed to view the humanities and sciences as means for connecting with the world around her and its unfolding events.
Lectures are all carefully documented, with the topic or title at the top of the section, followed by the lecturer's name and the date and place of the event. Some entries are accompanied by printed announcements or reviews. This is the case with the Temperance Address she attended in 1892, conducted by the internationally renowned activism Mary Livermore. Pasted in reviews of the lecture largely focus on Livermore's wider career and her lively oratory; but Stella's notes reveal that what stood out to her was Livermore's discussion about women's experiences in prison and asylum spaces, and the role alcohol plays in domestic violence, crime and recidivism.
Stella's notebook provides unique opportunities for research, raising broader questions about Canadian women's engagement with politics and education, their familiarity with and use of public transportation, their leadership roles and activity within educational and activist societies, and the extent to which these opportunities affected their class mobility. For Stella more specifically, work could be done examining and tracing the societies and organizations which she regularly attends, and examining which religious, political, activist, and educational figures she shared spaces with (as well as how her perspectives on their oratory compare with printed reviews). (Item #5354)