Fonds UBCA-ARC-1510 - Mary Lousie Bollert fonds

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Mary Lousie Bollert fonds

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  • Photographic material
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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the provenance of the fonds

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52 cm of textual materials
512 photographs
3 artifacts

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Biographical history

Mary Louise Bollert was the first Dean of Women at the University of British Columbia. She arrived at UBC in 1921 in the new role of Advisor to Women and became Dean of Women in 1922, when her position was renamed. She remained at UBC as Dean of Women until her retirement in 1941. She also held the Assistant Professor of English position and was a member of the UBC Senate from 1933 to 1941. She is remembered for her fight to create proper resident accommodation for women and for creating a women's student loan fund to help women. She possessed a strong belief that educated women could work together to change society for the better. Mary Bollert Hall, at 6253 Northwest Marine Drive, built initially as a women's residence, is named after her.
Mary Bollert was born in Guelph, Ontario, to Malinda (née Bowers) Bollert and Ernest Robert Bollert. Mary Bollert had three younger sisters, L. Grace, Helen, and Florence. She attended high school in Guelph. Subsequently, she attended the University of Toronto, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages.
There is confusion over the exact dates and titles of post-graduate degrees she obtained. However, she did receive a graduate degree at the University of Toronto, studied at the Ontario Normal College, and subsequently obtained an additional post-graduate degree from Columbia University in New York. During her time in New York, she held posts as Principal of Alma College in St. Thomas. In addition, she taught at Curtis High School, Horace Mann High School and Teacher's College, Columbia University.
After her time in New York, Mary Bollert returned to Canada and worked as Dean of Women and Professor of English at Regina College (likely from 1914 to 1917 though here, too, there remains confusion as to dates and her exact title). Before 1917, she began work in Toronto with the Robert Simpson Company as its Director of Education and Social Work. In 1917, she accepted the additional role of Superintendent of Sherbourne House, a private club for businesswomen and girls in Toronto. Her sister, Florence Bollert, began as Mary's secretary at Sherbourne House in 1917 and subsequently became Superintendent from 1921to 1946. During her time at UBC, Mary Bollert was involved with many organizations. In 1926 she was one of two women representing Canada at the Institute of Pacific Relations in Honolulu. She was a Canadian representative at conferences of the International Federation of University Women in Paris, Geneva, and Edinburgh. She was a speaker at the International Congress of Women in 1933. In 1934 she was selected to tour Japan as one of 12 women who held the position of Dean of Women at universities across North America. When she passed away in 1945, she was the International President of the Pan-Pacific Women's Association, a position she was first elected to in 1937.
Additionally, Mary Bollert was a charter member of the Soroptimist Club, Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Student Christian Movement, UBC, National President of the University Women's Club, Honorary Secretary of the Women's Canadian Club, Honorary Regent of the University Chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire, member of the Toronto University Alumni Association, member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, as well as a member of St-Andrew's-Wesley United Church in Vancouver. The tradition of the time was at retirement; Deans were bestowed an Honourary Doctorate. All Deans were honoured in this way. However, Bollert never received an Honourary Doctorate.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of four series – Personal Materials series, Bollert Family series, Artifacts series, and Photographs series. They feature correspondence to and from members of the Bollert Family, information and notes used in speeches on various subjects to various groups given by Mary Bollert, collected newspaper clippings relating to members of the Bollert family, as well as several personal diaries and notebooks. The documents focus on the immediate family of Mary Bollert and include records she collected. The fonds also consists of 512 photographs, many of them portraits of members of the Bollert family.

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Immediate source of acquisition

The UBC Archives was gifted these records in 2013 by Louise Hager, grand-niece of Mary Louise Bollert.


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Location of originals

The oversize drawing of Cyrus Bowers and a Certificate is located in the vault, cabinet 2, drawer 15. Photographs have been assigned series UBC 172.1/.

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General note

Please note that although it is clear that Mary Bollert died on July 31, 1945, there remains doubt as to her date of birth. Several secondary sources, including the book by Jean Mann, Beverly New and Cathy Barford titled Women Lead the Way – A History of the University Women`s Club of Vancouver, 1907-2007 (Ray Hignall Services Ltd:
Vancouver, 2007, p.33) and the website Famous and Canadian Women report her birth date as 1884. Nonetheless, the BC Vital Statistics records that she was 63 when she died in 1945 (thus suggesting she was born between August 1, 1881, and July 30, 1882).
Handwritten notes within the fonds themselves on the backs of photographs or in notebooks indicate she was born in 1875, 1876, or 1879. Mary Bollert is buried alongside her parents and siblings at Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver; however, while the marker reflects her date of death as 1945, it does not indicate her birth date.

Similarly, there remains some debate surrounding the dates and titles of degrees that she obtained. For example, secondary sources such as It is Up to You (Stewart, Lee. “It’s Up to You” Women at UBC in the Early Years (University of British Columbia Press: Vancouver, 1990, p. 69 ) indicates that she obtained a B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1906 as does her obituary in the Vancouver Sun (Wed August 1, 1945).
However, her obituary in the Vancouver Province, while agreeing she obtained a degree at the University of Toronto, states that she obtained her degree in 1900, as does the aforementioned Women Lead the Way. Both of these secondary sources indicate that she obtained an A.M. (or M.A.) from Columbia in 1908. However, in “It’s Up to You” the caption alongside a photograph of Mary indicates that she obtained her degree from Columbia in 1918. Many sources suggest she also received an M.A. from the University of Toronto, including a letter from Buckingham Palace, which is addressed to “Miss M.L. Bollert, M.A., A.M..”
For further information surrounding the confusion over dates in the life of Mary Louise Bollert, please inquire at the UBC Archives about the document entitled “Mary Louise Bollert fonds – Confusion Over Dates” contained within the Accession file.

General note

The 3 artifacts include a drawing of Cyrus Bowers, a mailing tube, and a coronation medal.

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