Celebrating Jean Augustine, Education, Community & Diaspora

On Sunday, 9 September 2017, Hundreds of guests came to celebrate Augustine's eight decades of accomplishments (many of which are recorded in her fonds!). During her birthday speech, Jean Augustine shared her pride in preserving her records at York University Libraries.

We could hardly contain our excitement when she listed the full extent of her fonds: 13.4 m of textual records; ca. 16,000 photographs; ca. 10,000 negatives; ca. 60 compact disks; ca. 15 computer disks; ca. 400 paintings and prints; ca. 670 objects : buttons, flags, cups, etc.; 238 videocassettes; and 41 audio cassettes.

Image of Jean Augustine in yellow suit posing beside young man in white shirt and black tie seated at an office desk. Behind them is a series of wall hangings holding many political and activist buttons.

Augustine's button collection on a wall. ASC26924

All the buttons from her collection (on display in the image above) have made their way to the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections. The online exhibit "Pushing Buttons" provides an insight into the breadth and the research potential of the collection.

Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections at the party

Steps away from the red carpet, our display of the Jean Augustine fonds, occupied prime restate during the star-studded event. Many individuals stopped to enjoy the small sample of photographic material from the fonds.

The Jean Augustine fonds on display at the 80th Birthday Celebration.

The Jean Augustine fonds on display at the 80th Birthday Celebration.

Over the course of the brunch, commemorative certificates from Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter, and Mayor John Tory were presented to Augustine and added to the archival display.

Augustine, Education, and Community in the fonds

As donations from the event were directed to the Jean Augustine Chair of Education, Community, and Diaspora, photographs were selected to commemorate Agustine's  teaching days and community work with the Metro Toronto Housing Authority (MTHA).

Newly digitised images of Jean Augustine as a teacher and during her time with the Metro Toronto Housing Authority.

Over her five-year tenure as chair of the MTHA from 1988 to 1993, Augustine organized series of activities to empower tenants and keep youth away from drugs. [1] For example, the Blue Jays Rookie League program, founded during her time as chair,  uses the power of baseball to foster lasting social change and create leaders in the community.

Close up image of file folders with titles related to the Metro Toronto Housing Authority

Researchers can dive further into the MTHA's activities during Augustine's time with files in boxes 2007-022/008 and 2007-022/009.

At the birthday celebration, Augustine encouraged her guests to conduct research using her fonds. The materials in Augustine's fonds chronicles her four decades of public service and her advocacy on diverse issues, such as women's rights, urban education, Black youth, and the betterment of the Black community.

York University celebrating Augustine

Members of the York community were among the many friends, family and colleagues who gathered to celebrate Jean Augustine's eight decades of accomplishments.

To learn more about Jean Augustine and her many accomplishments, see her biographical sketch in the finding aid and related blog posts.

[1] Skinner, Justin. “Jean Augustine one of Canada’s top immigrants.” Inside Toronto. https://www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/64514-jean-augustine-one-of-canada-s-top-immigrants/ (retrieved 26 September 2017).

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