Cecilia Morgan

History is richer, truer and more interesting when it includes women. 

That’s the understanding Cecilia Morgan developed after receiving the City of Toronto Women and Gender Studies Scholarship in its inaugural year. 

“With the support of this award, I learned our understanding of the past was incomplete if we did not take into account women’s histories,” explains Morgan, now professor of the history of education in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at OISE at U of T. “We need to see those histories as being shaped by gender but also by class, race and ethnicity, religion and sexuality. The award helped push me to see just how much richer and more interesting our histories are when viewed through a feminist lens.”  

As a member of Innis College, Morgan received the scholarship while earning her bachelor of arts in history and women’s studies in 1987. That degree was just the start; she earned two more from the U of T, including a master’s degree in history in 1988 and her doctor of philosophy in history in 1993. 

Since then, she has written several award-winning and well-respected books that examine the history of gender in Canada, Canadian popular culture, commemoration and memory in Canada, and gender and colonialism in the British Empire. Several were short-listed for the Canadian Historical Society’s Sir John A. Macdonald Prize — with one earning honourable mention — and Heroines and History: Representations of Madeleine de Verchères and Laura Secord was awarded Prix Lionel Groulx – Yves Saint Germain from the Institut d’histoire l’amerique française. 

Morgan was recently among 10 U of T Faculty to receive a Faculty Research Fellowship at the University’s Jackman Humanities Institute for 2019/20. Fellows are chosen for their research excellence and the promise of their proposed research program. With this award, Morgan is studying letters and documents from influential upper middle-class families to shed new light on the creation of settler society in Upper Canada and nineteenth-century Ontario. 

Throughout her career — which has also included a number of public talks, media interviews, blogposts, among other contributions — she has remained committed to highlighting the importance of women’s history in Canada. She has curated exhibits and led research into women in history for the Niagara Historical Society’s Museum, Archives of the Law Society of Upper Canada and others. 

“My research and teaching are grounded in the feminist scholarship on women’s history I learned as an undergraduate at U of T, an education that was supported and enriched by this scholarship,” she says. “It helped set me on the path to a career as a historian whose publications have explored gender relations in a number of aspects of Canada’s history and has taught and supervised students in Canadian gender history.” 

Looking back, she says the scholarship came not just with much-needed support at a crucial time in her life, but also validation that her interest in feminist work was important and worth pursuing. Ultimately, the impact has been a greater understanding of the role women have had in history, not just in herself but also in the students she’s supervised throughout the years.[Text Wrapping Break] 

“It provided even greater motivation for me to pursue my interests in women’s history and feminist research, as it told me these areas were legitimate areas of scholarly study that also had great relevance outside the academy,” she says.

This profile is part of our celebration of the 35th anniversary of the City of Toronto Women and Gender Studies Scholarship. Read about other recipients here