Mary E. Black fonds

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Title proper

Mary E. Black fonds

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Reference code

MG 1 volumes 1722-1724, 2141-2144, 2876-2883, 3295, 3480-3508, MG 20 volumes 57-59; Graphic: 1982-474, 1989-250, 1988-426, some with no reference numbers; Microfilm 9493; Sound: 1989-22.

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Dates of creation area


  • [ca. 1790]-1991, predominant 1950-1980 (Creation)
    Black, Mary E., 1895-1988

Physical description area

Physical description

8.9 m of textual records and other material

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Mary Ellouise Black was born 18 September 1895 at Nantucket Island, Mass., the eldest daughter of William M. Black and Ellouise (Eldridge). She received her early education in Wolfville, N.S. and graduated from Acadia Seminary in 1913. Her career in occupational therapy began in 1919 after completing a course in Montreal to train as a ward aide for disabled soldiers. From 1919 to 1943, she worked in various institutions in Nova Scotia and the United States where she directed ccupational therapy programs for patients including the mentally ill. Also an accomplished craftswoman, she was recruited by the Province of Nova Scotia in 1943 to organize a provincial handcrafts programme as director of handcrafts for the Nova Scotia Department of Industry and Publicity, a position she held until her retirement in 1955. She authored several instructional texts on weaving. Among her best-known works was The Key to Weaving, published in 1945. Her many awards and honours included a citation from the Cultural Division of the Mexican Government in 1960 for The Key to Weaving, the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Award in 1977, and the Cultural Life Award from the Cultural Federations of Nova Scotia in 1981. She died in Wolfville on 11 February 1988.

Custodial history

Following the death of Mary E. Black in 1988, some of her records were inherited by her sister, Violet Black, who donated them to the archives in 1988 and 1989. Remaining records were donated through the estate of Violet Black in 1991. The material relating to Key to Weaving was bequeathed to the Atlantic Spinners and Handweavers by Mary E. Black in 1988 and donated in 1991 and 1992.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records documenting Mary E. Black's professional career and private life. Fonds contains manuscripts, articles, correspondence, and bulletins pertaining to her work in occupational therapy, weaving, and handcrafts. Also includes personal correspondence, notebooks, newspaper clippings, and other material relating to her childhood, education, and recreational activities. The fonds also includes slides and photographs depicting events honouring Mary E. Black, weaving techniques and works by other weavers, an audio cassette interview of Mary E. Black conducted by Dawn MacNutt in 1980, and a film reel of her trip to Europe in 1937.

Notes area

Physical condition

Includes 17.5 cm of photographs, 3 cm of slides, 1 watercolour, 1 audio cassette (ca. 2 hrs.), 1 film reel, 1 microfilm reel.

Immediate source of acquisition

Much of the material donated by Mary E. Black in 1976 and 1982.


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Finding aids

File list available. Website exhibit available.

Associated materials

Related records may be found in the following fonds: Atlantic Spinners and Handweavers Society (MG 20); Halifax Weavers' Guild (MG 20); Designers' Division, N.S. Dept. of Education (MG 20); Violet Black (MG 1), and Black family (MG 1).

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General note

Ca. 13,500 textile samples and other artifacts were received with the fonds.

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Women of Nova Scotia

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