As Registrar of Queen's University, Jean Royce shaped the university's development, and personified the university for generations of students. Appointed in 1933 by men who sought to exclude women from positions of authority, Jean Royce navigated the precarious gendered environment of institutional life for thirty-five years. As gate-keeper and talent scout, she encouraged all who qualified, revealing herself out of sympathy with those who would preserve Queen's as Protestant men's club or English-Canadian enclave. Attentive to detail and internationalist in vision, she became the most powerful woman ever to work at Queens. Her forced retirement at 64 devastated her, but following her election by alumni to the Board of Trustees she played a key role in expanding educational opportunities for women.
Spanning the first eight decades of the twentieth century, Jean Royce's life provides a lens for looking at working-class family life before the Great Depression, social mobility through education, feminism's continuing presence in the twentieth century, and the constraints and possibilities for single women in work, relationships, cultural life, and international travel. Centrally, her life provides a close look at the development and politics of a major Canadian university.
About the author
Roberta Hamilton is Professor of Sociology at Queen's University.
- Winner, Ontario Historical Society Alison Prentice Award