Photo of Marilyn Barber

Marilyn Barber

Adjunct Research Professor

Degrees:B.A. (Queen's), M.A. (Queen's), Ph.D. (University of London)

As an historian of Canada, I am particularly engaged with the study of immigration, women’s and gender history, and oral history. While associate professor in the department before retirement, I taught and supervised in these fields at the undergraduate and graduate level. Most recently, I have combined these interests in the research and writing of Invisible Immigrants: The English in Canada since 1945, a book that is co-authored with Dr. Murray Watson, a UK-based oral historian. The trans-Atlantic partnership in producing the book developed in part from an M.A. oral history seminar that I taught with Murray in the public history program at Carleton. I also have a personal interest in the stories of these English migrants because I experienced some of the differences between England and Canada when I was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to study for my Ph.D. at the University of London in the 1960s.

My writing about the English after 1945, the largest immigrant group to come to Canada in the immediate postwar era, built on my research regarding immigration in an earlier time period. I have a longstanding and continuing interest in the history of immigrant domestic servants in Canada, especially from the nineteenth century to World War II. These female migrants came mainly from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and many countries in western and eastern Europe. Drawing from oral interviews that I undertook beginning in the 1970s as well as from government documents, photographs, and other archival records, I have written many articles about their life stories together with the policies and conditions that affected their migration experiences. In addition, because I am interested in the educational and religious response to immigrants in Canada, I have examined a little-known Anglican organization, the Fellowship of the Maple Leaf, that sent teachers from England to the rural elementary schools of western Canada in the 1920s, and in the depression of the 1930s sponsored church workers from England, mainly women, in more remote western Canadian districts that could not obtain priests.

Currently, I am also a Canadian collaborator in a major research project undertaken by Professor Marjory Harper, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, on migration and mental health. Canada is an important focus of the project that is examining the links between immigration and mental health primarily in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. At a 2014 interdisciplinary colloquium organized by Professor Harper at the University of Aberdeen, I presented a paper titled “Stories of Immigrant Isolation and Despair: Canadian Novels and Memoirs since 1850s.” This paper is being included in a book, The Past and Present of Migration and Mental Health to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in England.


Marilyn Barber and Murray Watson, Invisible Immigrants: The English in Canada since 1945, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2015.

Immigrant Domestic Servants in Canada, Canadian Historical Association Booklet, Canada’s Ethnic Groups Series, 1991

“Stories of Immigrant Isolation and Despair: Canadian Novels and Memoirs since 1850s” in Marjory Harper, ed., The Past and Present of Migration and Mental Health, Palgrave Macmillan (forthcoming)

Chapters in Books and Articles in Refereed Journals

“Nation-Building in Saskatchewan: Teachers from the British Isles in Saskatchewan Rural Schools in the 1920s” in Phillip Buckner and R. Douglas Francis, eds., Canada and the British World (Vancouver/Toronto: UBC Press, 2006), 215-33.

“‘Two Homes Now’: The return migration of the Fellowship of the Maple Leaf” in Marjory Harper, ed., Emigrant Homecomings, The return movement of emigrants, 1600-2000, (Manchester, University of Manchester Press, 2005), 197-214.

“Hearing Women’s Voices: Female Emigration to Canada in the Early Twentieth Century,” in Oral History, The Journal of the Oral History Society (UK) 33, 1 (Spring 2005): 68-76.

Lorna R. McLean and Marilyn Barber, “In Search of Comfort and Independence: Irish Immigrant Domestic Servants encounter the Courts, Jails, and Asylums in Nineteenth-Century Ontario” in Marlene Epp, Franca Iacovetta, and Frances Swyripa, eds., Sisters or Strangers, Immigrant, Ethnic, and Racialized Women in Canadian History (Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2004), 133-160.

“‘A Religious and Patriotic Way of Earning One’s Daily Bread’: Church of England Teachers in Western Canada, 1909-39,” for special issue on English emigration to Canada in British Journal of Canadian Studies, ed. P. Buckner, vol.16, no.1, 2003, 126-136.

“The Motor Caravan Mission: Anglican Women Workers in the New Era” in Elizabeth Gillan Muir and Marilyn Fardig Whiteley, eds., Women Within the Christian Church in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995), 219-37.

“The Fellowship of the Maple Leaf Teachers” in Barry Ferguson, ed., The Anglican Church and the World of Western Canada 1820-1970 (Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre, 1991), 154-66.

“Help for Farm Homes: The Campaign to End Housework Drudgery in Rural Saskatchewan in the 1920s,” Scientia Canadensis, Journal of the History of Canadian Science, Technology and Medicine 9, 1 (June 1985): 3-26. Reprinted in Richard A. Jarrell and James P. Hull, eds., Science, Technology and Medicine in Canada’s Past (Thornhill: The Scientia Press, 1991), 223-46.

“Domestic Servants in the 20th Century Ontario Kitchen” in M. Clow, D. Duncan, G. Lockwood and L. Lowry, eds, Consuming Passions (Willowdale: The Ontario Historical Society, 1990), 283-98.

“The Women Ontario Welcomed: Immigrant Domestics for Ontario Homes, 1870-1930,” Ontario History 62, 3 (September 1980): 148-72. Reprinted in Susan Mann Trofimenkoff and Alison Prentice, eds., The Neglected Majority, Vol. II (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1985), 102-21; and M. Piva, ed., A History of Ontario (Toronto: Copp Clark Pitman, 1988), 144-60.

“The Servant Problem in Manitoba, 1896-1930,” in Mary Kinnear, ed., First Days, Fighting Days: Women in Manitoba History (Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre, 1987), 100-119.

“Sunny Ontario for British Girls” in Jean Burnet, ed., Looking into My Sister’s Eyes (Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario, 1986), 55-74.

“The Gentlewomen of Queen Mary’s Coronation Hostel” in B. Latham and R. Pazdro, eds., Not Just Pin Money (Victoria: Camosun College, 1984), 141-58.

“Canadianization Through the Schools of the Prairie Provinces before World War I” in M. Kovacs, ed., Ethnic Canadians: Culture and Education (Regina: Canadian Plains Studies, 1978), 281-94.

“The Ontario Bilingual Schools Issue: Sources of Conflict,” Canadian Historical Review, XLVII (September 1966): 227-48. Reprinted in Minorities, Schools, and Politics (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969), 63-84.

Supervision of Graduate Theses

Ph.D. Theses:

Stacey Zembrzycki, “Memory, Identity, and the Challenge of Community among Ukrainians in the Sudbury Region, 1901-1939,” Ph.D. Thesis, Dept. of History, August 2007. (co- supervision with John Walsh)

Vadim Kukushkin, “Peasants on the Move: Early Twentieth-Century Labour Migration from Russia’s Western Frontier to Canada,” Ph.D. Thesis, Dept. of History, Sept. 2004.

Lisa Gaudet, “The Empire is Woman’s Sphere,” Ph.D. Thesis, Dept. of History, Sept. 2001.

Georgina Taylor, “‘Ground for Common Action’: Violet McNaughton’s Agrarian Feminism and the Origins of the Farm Women’s Movement in Canada,” Ph.D. Thesis, Dept. of History, Sept. 1997

Dianne Dodd, “Delivering Electrical Technology to the Ontario Housewife, 1920-1939: An Alliance of Professional Women, Advertisers and the Electrical Industry,” Ph.D. Thesis, Dept. of History, 1988.

M.A. Theses:

Meaghan Harris, “East Germans, Refugees, and New Canadians – A Family Migration,” M.A. Thesis, Dept. of History, April 2006.

Corrine Kennedy, “‘They Brought Us Eaton’s Catalogues!’: Issues of Gender, Consumerism, and Citizenship in the Stories of World War II British War Brides,” M.A. Thesis, Dept. of History, Sept. 2002.

Linda Fitzgibbon, “Compassion Without Borders: Irish Members of the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa 1845-1875,” M.A. Thesis, Dept. of History, Sept. 2002.

Natasha Lenzo, “‘In the Spirit of Judaism’: The National Council of Jewish Women in Canada in Historical Perspective 1897-1990”, M.A. Thesis, Dept. of History, 1998.

Lydia Dixon, “Education and Assimilation in the Lakehead, 1900-1939,” M.A.Thesis, Dept. of History, 1995. (joint with Kerry Abel)

Wendy Hubley, “To Make Intelligent Beings Yet More Intelligent: The Canadian Federation of University Women, 1919-31,” M.A. Thesis, Dept. of History, 1993.

Lisa Gaudet, “Nation’s Mothers, Empire’s Daughters: The Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, 1920-1930,” M.A. Thesis, Dept. of History, 1993.

Faith Johnson, “Dorise Nielsen: The Life and Ideas of a Canadian Woman in Politics,” M.A. Thesis, Institute of Canadian Studies, 1989.

Marcel Dirk, “Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire,” M.A. Thesis, Institute of Canadian Studies, 1988.

Sheila Powell, “Anti-Suffragism in Ontario, 1885-1919,” M.A. Thesis, Dept. of History, 1987.

Diana Pedersen, “‘Keeping Our Good Girls Good’: The Young Women’s Christian Association of Canada, 1870-1920,” M.A. Thesis, Institute of Canadian Studies, 1981.

Diane Newell MacDougall, “Canada’s Share of the Klondike: The Character of Gold Rush Publicity, 1897-98,” M.A. Thesis, Institute of Canadian Studies, 1974.