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Women in Northern BC

Northern BC Archives collections of various women who have had an influence on Canada and its history.

Marianne (Marika) Ainley fonds (1973-2008)

Marianne (Marika) Ainley fonds - 2002.14
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Dr. Marianne (Marika) Ainley (1937-2008) was a former chair and professor of the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Northern British Columbia. She originally trained as a chemist in Budapest, Hungary before immigrating to Montreal, Quebec in 1958. She worked as an industrial chemist and laboratory assistant while completing an undergraduate degree at Sir George Williams University (now part of Concordia University), after which she completed a graduate degree at the Université de Montréal and at McGill University on the history of ornithology. Once Dr. Ainley had completed her graduate work, her research interests shifted towards the history of women in science and, later, the relationship between women scientists and Aboriginal peoples in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The fonds consists of 6.85 metres, 63 computer disks and 4.76 MB of textual records which contains drafts and published manuscripts, correspondence, interviews transcripts, questionnaires, lists of resources and other material. About 500 photographs predominetly consist of research materials and archival reprints through some relate to her personal life and hobbies. The audio and visual content consisting of 121 audio cassettes, 5 videocassettes, and 2 CDs predominantly contain oral histories, recordings of conferences, interviews and lectures. 

Research Potential

The History of Women in Science

Dr. Ainley was a pioneer in the study of the history of women in science in Canada and published articles on the experience of prominent 19th and 20th century women scientists, such as Catharine Parr Traill, Martha Louise Black, and Mabel F. Timlin, as well as on contemporary women working in science inside and outside academia. For research for her posthumously published book, Creating Complicated Lives: Women and Science at English-Canadian Universities, 1880-1980 (2012), conceptualized as a culmination of her life’s work, she compiled oral histories with Canadian science professors, recordings of conferences on the history of women in science and the issues women face working in science inside and outside academia. Dr. Ainley’s manuscripts and drafts, as well as lists of sources and bibliographies, can serve as secondary sources for projects on the history of women scientists. The audio material serves as invaluable research material for topics to examine the experiences of women scientists working inside and outside the university.

Women Scientists and the Transfer of Aboriginal Knowledge

One of the projects which Ainley was not able to complete was a SSHRC grant funded project on the transfer of knowledge between Aboriginal peoples scientists (mostly women) in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This project focused, predominately, on the transfer of Aboriginal medical and botanical knowledge to women scientists. The material created and compiled for this project includes resources relating to early women scientists who worked with Aboriginal peoples; bibliographies and other lists of resources on the histories of Aboriginal peoples; transcripts of interviews with women scientists working with Aboriginal peoples; and proceedings from Ainley’s presentations on the subject. This project is particularly unique because it examines and compares the relationships of Aboriginal peoples and women scientists in Canada and abroad. It would be particularly useful for students writing on a variety of topics related to the transfer of knowledge from Aboriginal peoples and to non-Aboriginal peoples as well as the experiences and methods of women scientists.

Further Reading