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Description found in Archives
Place of creation
2 albums (ca. 348 photographs) b&w, some gelatine prints.
14 photographs b&w.
Scope and content
The fonds consists of textual records relating to Kathleen Blake Coleman's career as a journalist, TORONTO MAIL AND EMPIRE columnist, and author, and to her role in the Canadian Women's Press Club, including correspondence, scrapbooks, clippings about her and other biographical material, and draft and final copies of her newspaper and fictional writings. It also includes family and personal material, obituaries, and other posthumous papers. Fonds also consists of photographs including portraits of Kathleen Blake Coleman, her first husband George Willis, her second husband Edward Watkins, her third husband Dr. Theobold Coleman, and Lord Aberdeen; Coleman family activities, Copper Cliff, Ont., 1899-1901; trips to England, 1897, and Cuba, 1898; and commercial views of Paris and of many places in England, ca. 1890s. Photos by Adolphe, Dublin; A. Fontaine, Spa; Fraser Bryce, Toronto; Kennedy, Toronto; and Lafayette, London.
Textual records: The originals in volume 3 have been withdrawn from circulation and replaced with photocopies available in volume 3A. Volumes 1-2, 3A, 4, and 18 are open without restriction. Volumes 5-17 and 19-20 are open for consultation but may not be photocopied for conservation reasons.
Photographs: No restrictions on use. Copyright is expired.
Textual records: Finding Aid 1724 is a file list. It also includes a nominal list of correspondents and a description of oversize material in horizontal storage (vols. 18-20). MSS1724 (Paper)
Textual records: Finding aid. MSS1724 (Electronic)
Photographs: See photographic inventories, indexes and caption lists arranged by accession number. FA500 (Paper)
Photographs: Photographic inventory located in Photography A&R accession file. (Paper)
Photographs: Refer to MINISIS for item-level descriptions. (Electronic)
Biography / Administrative history
Kathleen Blake "Kit" Coleman's birthdate is usually listed as 1864, and her maiden name as Blake. It is, however, probable that she was born Catherine Ferguson in 1856 at the village of Castleblakeney, Ireland, to Patrick Ferguson and Mary Burke. In 1884 she emigrated to Canada, probably after the death of her first husband, Thomas Willis. Kathleen Willis lived in Toronto and Winnipeg, where she bore two children (Thady and Patricia) by her second husband, Edward Watkins.
At the end of her second marriage (probably by divorce), Kathleen Blake Watkins moved to Toronto and soon began her career in journalism. In 1889 her first articles were published in SATURDAY NIGHT, and she was soon hired by the TORONTO MAIL (later the MAIL AND EMPIRE) to write a weekly full-page column for women under the title "Woman's Kingdom". In addition to such topics as household tips, women's fashions, and relations between the sexes, Watkins dealt increasingly with areas in the mainstream of journalism in her column and soon became one of the MAIL's star reporters. In 1891 she interviewed the celebrated French actress Sarah Bernhardt, on tour in Canada. Watkins' assignments included the Chicago World's Fair (1893), the 1897 Jubilee, and Cuba during the Spanish-American War (1898), in which she became the first woman accredited as a war correspondent.
Upon her return from Cuba, Watkins married Theobald Coleman and moved to Copper Cliff, Ontario, where her husband was company doctor for the Canadian Copper Company. In 1901 the Colemans moved to Hamilton, Ontario. Kathleen Blake Coleman's status as a woman in journalism was recognized when, in 1904, she was made the first president of the Canadian Women's Press Club.
Notwithstanding her own career in an overwhelmingly male profession, Coleman publicly opposed feminism and woman suffrage. Coleman left the MAIL AND EMPIRE in 1911 because of a salary dispute, and produced a weekly syndicated article "Kit's Column". She died in 1915 in Hamilton.
1. Women journalists - Canada, [1889-1915] Canadian Women's Press Club, [1852, 1870-1914]
2. Canada - Emigration and immigration, 1884 Lady Aberdeen, n.d.
3. Lord Aberdeen, n.d.
4. R.A. Alger, [1870-1914]
5. John Martin-Harvey, [1870-1914]
6. Laurier, Wilfrid, Sir, 1841-1919.
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