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Description found in Archives

Marshall McLuhan fonds [multiple media]. 



Place of creation


43.6 m of textual records.
1 microfilm reel.
375 photographs b&w and col.
275 prints offset lithographs, reproductions, photochemical process prints, serigraph.
17 drawings.
1 watercolour.
1 printing plate : magnesium ; 8.4 x 47.5 x 0.5 cm.
58 audio cassettes.
29 audio discs.
2 audio reels.
21 film reels.
24 videocassettes.
3 plaques.
2 medals bronze and gold.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of textual records, photographs, art work, audio-visual material, and objects relating to Marshall McLuhan's career as a communications scholar. The textual records are divided into eleven series: Correspondence, which includes nominal correspondence, fan and crank mail, invitations and recommendations correspondence; Personal and family series; Manuscripts, which is comprised of material collected by McLuhan in preparation for his books and articles; Subject files, pertaining to a variety of topics; Reference notes; Projects, which includes correspondence, notes and other material concerning various projects McLuhan worked on or was interested in; University series, including material relating to the Centre of Culture and Technology, University of Toronto and student and personnel records; Manuscripts by other authors; Letters of Marshall McLuhan, which includes a selection of letters for the single volume of letters entitled "Letters of Marshall McLuhan", published in 1987; Eric McLuhan material; Books and periodicals. The personal and family material, correspondence, and manuscripts series have been microfilmed and are available on microfilm reels H-2038 to H-2201. In addition, there are two microfilmed dissertations available on reel M-8080: Edward Arthur Lippman, "Music and Space"; and Kathleen Swat Hoon Chan, "The Effect of Enhanced Visual Sensory Input on the Probability of Verbal Response". The fonds also includes photographs by the Globe and Mail, Rothmans of Pall Mall Canada Ltd., and Marshall McLuhan depicting Marshall McLuhan and wife with Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Toronto, Ont., 27 November 1970; Marshall McLuhan and wife with Mr. York Wilson, Toronto, Ont., ca. 1971; Marshall McLuhan; Roy Campbell; Reverend Malcolm Carron; Tom Easterbrook; Gerry Feigen; Senator Mike Gravel; Reverend John Mole; portraits and snapshots of members of the Marshall and McLuhan families; photographs by Wilson's Studio, Van Dyke Studios, Chapel Studio, Gauvin Gentzel & Co., W.A. Martel, L.W. Landerson, David L. Scopick, Louis Forsdale, Banks, Robert J. Fleming & Associates, Castor Studio, Campbell's Studio, Odette Baclet, and Ashley & Crippen, Robert Lansdale depicting the family and career of Marshall McLuhan, including portraits and snapshots; Marshall McLuhan receiving the President's Cabinet Award, University of Detroit, 1972; group photo taken at the McLuhan Emergency Strategy Seminar, Nassau, (Bahamas), January 1970; group photos of Marshall McLuhan with the Vice-President of the United States, Hubert A. Humphrey, Washington, D.C., November 16th, 1966; group photo taken at the "Mass Media Panel", Grinnell College, Iowa, 1967; group portrait taken at Commencement, John Fisher College, June 8th, 1969; portrait of Barrington, Nevitt; photographs by Time-Life, Tom Wallace, Eaton's, Portrait Studio, Alain Rinfret, and Jalmar (London, England) depicting the McLuhan family and professional activities of Marshall McLuhan; conferences in Barcelona (Spain), 1972, Denver (1973), Venice (Italy) and Venezuela (1976), Montreal (1977); photos of M. McLuhan receiving award from University of Detroit, 1972; group portraits with M. McLuhan and different personalities like Geordie Howe, John Culkin, the American painter Harley Parker; portraits of Philip Proctor & Peter Bergman, Red Skelton, Marshall McLuhan, Sir Stafford Beer, Allan Kaprow, Aldo Tambellini, Nam June Paik, Dick Higgins, Les Levine; photographs of a variety of paintings and drawings; and a photograph of Marshall McLuhan with Ed Robeneck, Red River, Man., ca. 1928. The artistic material includes posters, prints and cartoons advertising Canadian and international performing and fine arts events; a magnesium printing plate entitled "The structural effect/ McLuhanism"; Canadian postcard views; images including that of Nictaux Falls; Annapolis River; Port George; Grand Pre; Evangeline; Bear River; Digsby; Victoria, B.C.; and several images of Nova Scotia; cartoons by Joseph Mirachi and Andy Capp; a silkscreen cover design for "The Medium is the Message"; drawings of various locales in Toronto prepared by McLuhan; a cover design for "Voices of Literature"; a cover design for "Explorations: Verbi-voco-visual; and artwork boards for the Dewline project. The audio-visual material is divided into two media specific series entitled: Sound recordings and Moving images. The objects in the fonds include plaques and medals: the Religious Education Society plaque awarded to Dr. McLuhan; New York University of Education Award plaque; La Sociedad de Alumnos de la Licenciature en Ciercias de La Comunicacion del I.T.E.S.M. plaque; City of Toronto Award of Merit medal; and America's First Domestic Communications Satellite medal.

Textual records: microform
Sound recordings
90: Open
Moving images (film)
90: Open
Moving images (video)
90: Open
90: Open
Protective supervision is required durin
g consultation.
Textual records: microform
Microfilm reel M-8080
18: Restricted
Textual records: microform
96: Restrictions vary
Microfilm reel
18: Restricted
Graphic (photo)
90: Open
90: Open
Graphic (photo)
90: Open
RV1 148
90: Open
Graphic (photo)
90: Open
RV7 193
90: Open
Graphic (photo)
90: Open
SC 0384
90: Open
Graphic (photo)
90: Open
TCS 01169
90: Open
Graphic (art)
90: Open
from A288/X1 to A288/X5
from A289/X1 to A289/X9
from B081/X1 to B081/X2 Item no. assigned by LAC 114 -- 133
Item no. assigned by LAC 97 -- 113
Item no. assigned by LAC 82 -- 96
Item no. assigned by LAC 65 -- 66; 68 -- 69; 71 -- 81
Item no. assigned by LAC 57 -- 64; 56A
Item no. assigned by LAC 256 -- 263
Item no. assigned by LAC 242 -- 254
Item no. assigned by LAC 227 -- 241
Item no. assigned by LAC 213 -- 226
Item no. assigned by LAC 198 -- 212
Item no. assigned by LAC 183 -- 197
Item no. assigned by LAC 169 -- 181
Item no. assigned by LAC 152 -- 168
Item no. assigned by LAC 134 -- 151
Item no. assigned by LAC 67; 107; 163 -- 164
Item no. assigned by LAC 58
90: Open
Graphic (art)
90: Open
A603-02 Item no. assigned by LAC 1 -- 24
90: Open
Graphic (art)
90: Open
PC-13 Item no. assigned by LAC 10
Item no. assigned by LAC 1 -- 9
90: Open
90: Open
A684 Item no. assigned by LAC 264
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Photographs: No restrictions on use. Various copyrights.
Artistic material: Terms of use for accession 1984-092 (PIC) to be determined. Copyright remains unknown. Credit: National Archives of Canada.
Artistic material: No restrictions on use for accession 1988-017 (PIC) and 1987-094 (PIC). Copyright expired for accession 1988-017. Various copyrights exist for accession 1987-094. Credit: National Archives of Canada.
Sound recordings: No restrictions on use. Reproduction only with permission of copyright owner. No donor restriction except for material in accession 1985-0166 (MISA).
Moving images: No restrictions on use. Reproduction only with permission of copyright owner. No donor restrictions.
Objects: No restrictions on use. Various copyrights. Credit: National Archives of Canada.

Textual records The Finding Aid is a descriptive file list of volumes 1 to 228. MSS1645 (Electronic)

Graphic material Refer to MINISIS for item-level descriptions. (Electronic)

Artistic material Finding aid is an item-level descriptive list for accession 1984-092 (PIC) located in binder #47 for items 1-56 and in the Art Division accession file for items 21-264. (Paper)

Audio-visual material Refer to MINISIS for item-level descriptions. (Electronic)

Audio-visual material Refer to AV Collection file for additional information. (Paper)

Objects Refer to MINISIS for item-level descriptions. (Electronic)

Objects See Medal inventory cards: 12700 to 12704, Art Division. (Paper)

Textual records Microfilm shelf list MSS1645 90 (Electronic)

Biography / Administrative history

Herbert Marshall McLuhan was born in Edmonton, Alberta on 21 July 1911 to Herbert Ernest McLuhan, a salesman, and Elsie Naomi (Hall) McLuhan, an actress and monologist. The family moved to Winnipeg, where McLuhan attended the University of Manitoba from 1929 to 1934, receiving a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in English literature. He received his doctorate in English literature from Cambridge University in 1942, the topic of his dissertation being "The Place of Thomas Nashe in the Learning of His Time."

After teaching English at various American universities, McLuhan returned to Canada in 1944 to teach at Assumption College in Windsor. From 1946 until shortly before his death, he taught English at St. Michael's College, University of Toronto. From 1953 to 1955 he directed a seminar on culture and communications that was sponsored by the Ford Foundation. In addition to his teaching work, he co-edited with anthropologist Edmund Carpenter a periodical called "Explorations" from 1953 to 1959. He later directed a media project for the United States Office of Education and the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (1959-1960) titled "Understanding New Media".

In 1963, McLuhan became the director of the University of Toronto's newly-established Centre for Culture and Technology. The Centre conducted research on questions of sensory perception and other communications-related issues and offered academic courses.

In December 1966, McLuhan was appointed to the Albert Schweitzer Chair in Humanities at Fordham University in New York City, a post he held for the 1967-1968 academic year. In 1970, McLuhan became a Companion of the Order of Canada.

McLuhan's books include the following: "The Mechanical Bride: The Folklore of Industrial Man" (1951); "The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man" (1962), for which he was awarded the Governor General's prize for critical prose; "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man" (1964); "The Medium is the Massage" (1967), written with Quentin Fiore; "War and Peace in the Global Village" (1968), also written with Quentin Fiore; "Through the Vanishing Point: Space in Poetry and Painting" (1968), co-authored with Harley Parker; "Counterblast" (1969); also written with Harley Parker; "Culture is Our Business" (1970); "From Cliché to Archetype" (1970), written with Wilfred Watson; "Take Today: The Executive as Dropout" (1972), written with Barrington Nevitt; and "The City as Classroom" co-authored by McLuhan, his son Eric McLuhan, and Kathryn Hutchon in 1977.

In addition to these works, McLuhan had a volume of his literary criticism published in 1969, titled "The Interior Landscape: Selected Literary Criticism", and edited by Eugene McNamara. He also co-edited, with Edmund Carpenter, a volume of essays compiled from the Explorations periodical, titled "Explorations in Communications" (1960). McLuhan's only book-length work of literary criticism is his 1956 edition of the poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson, titled "Selected Poetry of Tennyson".

In addition to these works, McLuhan wrote hundreds of articles, was interviewed for numerous journals and popular magazines, and delivered many lectures and informal talks on a variety of topics. He also edited an information letter, "The Dew Line."

Additional information

The Marshall McLuhan papers and audio-visual material was acquired in 1984 from his widow, Corinne McLuhan. Papers relating to the book Letters of Marshall McLuhan were acquired in 1988 from Mrs. M. Molinaro. One audio reel was acquired in 1988 from Lynda Ashley.

Associated material note
Sound recordings documenting an interview with McLuhan and French author Nina Sutton provide support for the papers of Marshall McLuhan located in MG31-D156.

Exhibitions note
Exhibition Title: Treasures of the National Archives. Curator: National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; 1992. (MG 31 D 156, Vol. 66, File 15; Manuscript of The Mechanical Bride)

Subject heading

1. H. Marshall McLuhan - Diaries, n.d., [1871, 1897-1981] Dew Line, n.d., [1931,1933-1981]
2. H. Marshall McLuhan - Manuscripts, n.d., 1935-1982 Explorationa, n.d., [1931, 1933-1981]
3. Authors, Canadian, n.d., 1871-1982 Centre of Culture and Technology (Toronto, Ont.), n.d., 1938-1980.
4. Authors, Canadian - Biography, n.d., 1871-1982 University of Toronto. Department of English, n.d., 1938-1980.
5. Authors, Canadian - Diaries, n.d., [1871, 1897-1981] Eric Mcluhan, n.d., 1947, 1965-1980.
6. Authors and publishers - Canada, n.d., [1871-1982] Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1944-1962, 1985-1987.
7. Books - Canada, n.d., [1871-1982] Oxford University Press, [1985-1987]
8. Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.), n.d., 1935-1982 Matie Molinaro, [1944-1962, 1985-1987]
9. Lectures an lecturing - Canada, n.d., [1935-1982] McLuhan: A Life of Letters, [944-1962, 1985-1987]
10. Applications for positions, n.d., [1935-1982] Corinne McLuhan, 1944-1962, 1985-1987.
11. Research grants - Canada, n.d., [1935-1982] William Toye, 1944-1962, 1985-1987.
12. Research - Canada, n.d., 1935-1982 Father Walter J. Ong, 1944-1962.
13. Editors - Canada, n.d., [1931], 1933-1981.
14. Publishers and publishing - Canada, n.d., [1931], 1933-1981.
15. Bibliography - Canada, n.d., [1931], 1933-1981.
16. Consultants - Canada, n.d., 1951-1981.
17. Poetry, n.d., [1926-1981]
18. Manuscripts - Canada, n.d., 1926-1982.
19. Universities and colleges - Canada - Faculty, n.d., 1938-1980.
20. University of Toronto (Toronto, Ont.) - Faculty, 1920-1945.
21. Universities and colleges - History, n.d., 1938-1980.
22. English - Instruction and teaching, n.d., 1938-1980.
23. Literature - Study and teaching, n.d., 1938-1980.
24. University of Toronto - Students.
25. Centre of Culture and Technology - Administration, n.d., 1938-1980.
26. Periodicals, n.d., [1931], 1933-1981.


Other system control no.

Related control no.

1. 1984-021 MED
2. 1984-0224 MISA
3. 1984-092 PIC
4. 1985-0166 MISA
5. 1985-076 NPC
6. 1986-188 NPC
7. 1987-0422 MISA
8. 1987-094 PIC
9. 1988-017 PIC
10. 1988-022 NPC
11. 1988-0302 MISA
12. 1988-0333 MISA
13. 1988-0481 MISA
14. MG31-D156