Fonds RBSC-ARC-1220 - Lily (Steinman) Greene Fonds

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Lily (Steinman) Greene Fonds

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Physical description

20 cm of textual records;22 photographs;1 audio cassette

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Biographical history

Lily (Steinman) Greene was born in 1916 in Toronto. In 1932, at the age of 16, she graduated as a stenographer from the Toronto Central High School of Commerce. After graduation, Greene began work in the needle trade. This period marked the beginning of her labour and social justice activism. As a dress-maker, she served on the organizing committee for her section of the Industrial Union of Needle Trades Workers. She also joined the Central Division of the Canadian Jewish Congress in 1938 and worked in the head office of the Worker’s Unity League and Worker’s Educational Association during that time. As part of these activities she began an ongoing correspondence with the British Columbian socialist and labour organizer Tom McEwen which continued well into the 1970s.

After the war she continued her work as a labour organizer, moving to a full-time position in the head office of the Mine, Mill and Smelter Worker’s Union. In 1967, a merger of steel industry unions took place and together they formed the United Steelworkers. Greene was assigned to the Toronto office of the merged union and worked there until her retirement in 1982 at the age of 65.

Greene was also highly active in the movement against the Vietnam War during the 1960s and early 1970s. She was a charter member of the Voice of Women (now known as the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace), acted as the Convenor of the Ontario Voice of Women Knitting Project for Vietnamese Children and served as the Ontario Representative of the Canadian Aid for Vietnamese Civilians organization.

Lily married Samuel Greene in 1938. After Samuel died at the age of 59, Greene lived common-law with Ray L. Stevenson until he passed away at the age of 84.

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Scope and content

Fonds contains 171 letters from Tom McEwen spanning the decades from 1944 to 1976, and 4 letters from his wife, Rose McEwen; her sister, Anne Belenkaya; and Norman McEwen, Tom and Rose’s son, and his family. Lily Greene remained friends with both Tom and his family for many years, so the letters are mostly of a personal nature but many contain discussions of, or references to, issues important to the Communist Party in Canada and elsewhere, including Tom’s observations of and opinions on events occuring both at home and internationally, like the Vietnam war.

There are 22 photographs of Tom McEwen and various family members, as well as copies of photographs of Lily’s children. A clippings file contains an assortment of newspaper clippings, some columns and opinion pieces written by Tom McEwen, with the majority on issues or events concerning a member of the McEwen family. The clippings cover the period from 1950 through to 2000.

The fonds also contains two essays written by Tom McEwen and an audiocassette of a talk he gave in 1974 to a Grade 11 class taught by his grandson, Harry Ewen. The cassette also contains a recording of a CBC program “This Morning” that aired in 2000 and which incorporated that lecture as part of the program.

The fonds is contained in its entirety in Box #1 (Files 1-33) and Box #2 (Files 1-4).

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Donated by Lily Greene in June of 2003.


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Inventory available. PDF document attached.

Associated materials

The Tom McEwen Fonds contains personal correspondence, including numerous letters sent in support of Tom during his incarceration in the Hull Concentration Camp during the period 1941 – 1942, as well as correspondence addressed to Tom in his capacity as editor of <em>The Pacific Tribune</em>. Also included: materials relating to his Yukon election campaign of 1944 – 1945; a collection of essays and draft manuscripts written by Tom; numerous pamphlets, bulletins and other writings collected by Tom; materials related to various labour unions and labour union activity in general; and a large number of newspaper clippings.

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No further accruals expected.

Accompanying material

One oversized photographic print, reference number BC-2112/22 (Paul Robeson) has been removed from the fonds and placed in Oversize shelving, where it may be retrieved.

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