Fonds F0440 - Herman Arthur Voaden fonds

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Herman Arthur Voaden fonds

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  • Textual record
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  • Sound recording
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Physical description

33.0 m of textual records
ca. 300 photographs
ca. 70 glass plate negatives
42 audio discs
18 prints
15 audio reels
1 model

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Herman Arthur Voaden (1903-1991) was a teacher, playwright, director, editor, and arts activist. Herman Voaden was born in London, Ontario in 1903. He graduated from Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, with a B.A. (Honours) in 1923 and an M.A. in 1926. He also later pursued post-graduate studies at the University of Chicago and at Yale University. Voaden taught high school in Ottawa, Windsor, and Sarnia. Then, in 1928, he became head of the Department of English at the Toronto Central High School of Commerce. He remained in this position until his retirement in 1964. Voaden also served as Director of the Modern Drama Course at the University of Toronto in 1929 and as the Director of the Summer Course Drama and Play Production at Queen's University from 1934 to 1936. During the 1920's and 1930's, Voaden was recognized as an innovative playwright, director and editor. In 1934, he established the Play Workshop, the leading Canadian experimental theatre company of the 1930's. He also wrote seven major plays: Rocks, Earth Song, Hill-Land, Murder Pattern, Ascend As the Sun, Emily Carr and Marie Chapdelaine. Further, Voaden edited a dozen play anthologies and studies, beginning in 1930 with Six Canadian Plays. In addition to play writing and producing, he held several key administrative positions in Canadian arts organizations. He served as the first President of the Canadian Arts Council, 1945-1948; as a member of the Canadian Delegation to the First General Assembly of UNESCO in Paris, 1946; as the National Director of the Canadian Conference of the Arts, 1966-1968; and as the President of the Canadian Guild of Crafts, 1968-1970. He also ran on behalf of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in three federal elections and one by-election from 1945 to 1954. For his contribution to Canadian theatre and culture, Voaden received numerous honors: the English Centennial Award in 1965; the Queen's Jubilee Medal in 1977; an Honorary Life Membership in the Association for Canadian Theatre History in 1980; the Theatre Ontario Maggie Bassett Award in 1987; and a Diplome d'honneur from the Canadian Conference of the Arts in 1989. Further, Voaden was made a Fellow in the Royal Society of Arts in 1970 and a Member of the Order of Canada in 1974. He also received an honorary doctorate from Saint Mary's University, Halifax, in 1988. Herman Voaden was married to Violet Kilpatrick from 1935 until her death in 1984. Herman Voaden died in Toronto in 1991.

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Scope and content

Fonds consists of records pertaining to Herman Voaden's family life, education, teaching, play writing, directing and cultural lobbying activities. Also included are the private records of his wife, Violet Kilpatrick Voaden. Types of records include: correspondence, personal diaries, teaching notes, production notes, playbills, and photographs. Some material has been sorted and arranged according to subject by Anton Wagner, theatre historian and executor of Herman Voaden's literary estate.

The fonds is arranged in the following series:

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No restrictions on access. However, researchers must sign the Access and Use Agreement form before access is granted.

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Finding aids

Legacy file inventory uploaded as a PDF document.

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The fonds comprises the following accessions: 1974-014, 1982-019, 1991-020. Further accruals are expected.

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2002/04/08 Jizi Chen:. (Creation)
2002/04/08 Awaiting review by the Data Collection Archivist
2003/05/07 Shannon MacDonald. Added URL for online finding aid. Updated wording in access restrictions, accruals. Added series id/titles to scope and content.
2014/07/22 Migrated to AtoM
2019/02/13 KCP. Post-migration metadata clean-up. Addition of GMD and accession numbers. Published description and uploaded legacy finding aid.
2020/03/26 KCP, N. Somerset. Added subject access points.

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