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The Case for an Endowment

The Mary Henley Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston L.M. Montgomery Archival Endowment

Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) is a national treasure and icon, one of Canada's most important authors who gave the world Anne of Green Gables and a prolific array of writings that forever capture Canadian life in the early part of the 20th century.

The University of Guelph's McLaughlin Library is proud to be the home of the L.M. Montgomery Collection, the foremost national repository for Montgomery studies. The collection, which features primary and secondary sources, began in 1981 with the purchase of Montgomery's diaries (1889-1942) and scrapbooks from her son, Dr. E. Stuart Macdonald. Shortly after his death, additional materials were purchased from the estate and, in 1997, the manuscript of Rilla of Ingleside, thought to have been lost, was donated to the Library.

Today this extensive and diverse collection is the most used resource in the Library archives, serving the needs of literary scholars, historians, and researchers from Canada and abroad. At its center are 10 legal-size handwritten journals and unpublished, edited typescripts. Four of her scrapbooks, covering the years 1910 to 1936, provide additional information on her activities and interests while a fifth contains newspaper reviews of her books. The collection also includes approximately 70 first and subsequent editions of her works in English and translations in other languages, as well as poems, stories, photographs and photo albums, genealogical files, legal and business papers, needle and decorative handiwork, and the Order of the British Empire medal she received in 1935.

Special collections staff work to preserve and conserve these priceless artifacts, which are housed in an environmentally controlled area with regulated temperature, lighting and humidity. The University plans to digitize the entire collection to make it freely available online to researchers from around the world through the Library's new L.M. Montgomery Research Centre Web site. This dynamic site will grow and change over the years, reflecting the growing body of scholarship being published on Montgomery.

Montgomery scholarship has been enormously advanced by the work of University of Guelph professors emeritae Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston, editors of the five-volume series The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery. The first volume, published in 1985 by Oxford University Press (Canada), was a national bestseller, and the subsequent volumes have also enjoyed great success.

In honour of Dr. Rubio's and Dr. Waterston's contributions to our understanding of Montgomery and her works, the University of Guelph has created the Mary Henley Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston L.M. Montgomery Archival Endowment, launched with a gift of $10,000 and a pledge of $20,000 by Mr. Evan Siddall, who helped transcribe Montgomery's journals while a student at U of G.

Mr. Siddall invites other Montgomery admirers to join him in honouring her legacy. The goal is to raise a total of $100,000 to enhance and preserve the collection for all time. All contributions will be invested securely within the University's endowment fund with a set portion of the accrued growth used yearly to enhance the collection according to the donor's guidelines.

The funds will enable the Library to acquire, process, catalogue, preserve, digitize and house archival material; purchase equipment, furniture and software as necessary; and fund staff, scholarly publications, signage or other identified priorities. Currently, the Library is developing the collection to include significant editions of Montgomery's books. All gifts are tax deductible and donors receive annual reports detailing the accomplishments and purchases from the fund. The University is pleased to offer appropriate recognition opportunities as well.

This is an ideal year to celebrate L.M. Montgomery and her contributions to Canadian literature and history. In 2008, Anne of Green Gables, the best-selling Canadian book of all time, celebrates its 100th anniversary. In October, the University of Guelph will mount a major exhibition of Montgomery memorabilia, including her private journals and scrapbooks, at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre. The exhibit — to be held in conjunction with a major international conference on the cultural influence of her writing — will run until January, 2009 and then will be available online at the L.M. Montgomery Research Centre.

The L.M. Montgomery Collection is a fascinating and highly important bridge to our past, offering a wealth of first-hand observations and insights that span early Canadian publishing, the creative process, Canadian home life, and the role of women. This special collection deserves to be celebrated and preserved as a valuable resource for generations to come. The University of Guelph invites you to join us in this worthwhile endeavour by making a lasting gift to the Mary Henley Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston L.M. Montgomery Archival Endowment.

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