Historian Kate McPherson wins Marion Dewar Prize

Kate McPherson has been named the 2006 winner of the Marion Dewar Prize in Canadian Women’s History.

Kate McPhersonMcPherson, (right) Chair of Women’s Studies at York and professor in the Department of History, Faculty of Arts, is only the second recipient of the award set up in 2004 by feminist historians in the Ottawa-Gatineau region to recognize contributions to women’s history in Canada. It is presented to outstanding scholars in mid-career based on the strength of their research, teaching and administrative work. Named in honour of former Ottawa mayor Marion Dewar, the award is presented by the National Capital Committee on the Scholarship, Preservation and Dissemination of Women’s History.

Because McPherson was hosting other meetings, she was not present when the Canadian Committee on Women’s History announced the award during the 75th Congress for the Humanities and Social Sciences, held at York in May. But Libby Cohen, Chair of York’s History Department, published the news on the department’s Web site after receiving a letter from the prize committee.

“It’s very flattering to be evaluated positively by a jury of peers,” said McPherson on hearing of the award.

“I won it for a range of contributions that often don’t show up on the radar,” said McPherson. She was referring to mentoring and supervising students, helping nurses and retirees who are researching nursing history and participating in collaborative projects – “the kind of work that does not always appear on a CV,” said McPherson. “It’s nice to be recognized.”

McPherson was chosen from six candidates. In a letter to her, the four-person selection committee wrote: “We were impressed by how skilfully you have blended expertise in women’s history, health care research and women’s studies. We also want to commend the important theoretical frameworks that you have brought to your analyses and your range of interests in regional, national and transnational studies. With your administrative duties and journal responsibilities, we acknowledge how you have significantly advanced scholarship in women’s history. Moreover, we were struck by the way you have addressed both public and academic audiences with your work. We believe that your career demonstrates extraordinary promise and look forward to your future contributions to the field of women’s history.”

As an historian from Winnipeg, McPherson teaches women’s and gender history, comparative social history, and Western Canadian history. Her research interests include women’s health, women’s work, the social history of nursing, and the role of farm women in the colonization of the Canadian west. She has co-edited several books, including Bedside Matters: The Transformation of Canadian Nursing, 1900-1990 (1999) and Gendered Pasts: Historical Essays in Femininity and Masculinity in Canada (1996).

The Marion Dewar Prize is not McPherson’s first award. She shared the Burroughs Wellcome Fund 40th Anniversary Award in the History of Medicine or Science with York researchers Gina Feldberg, Molly Ladd-Taylor and Alison Li. The four also co-edited Women, Health and Nation: Canada and the United States since 1945, published in 2003.

The first winner of the Marion Dewar Prize was Denyse Baillargeon for her book Un Québec en mal d’enfants. La médicalisation de la maternité, 1910-1970.