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(1919 - )
Editor, Professor Emeritus
Francess Halpenny was born in Ottawa. She received a Master's degree in English language and literature from the University of Toronto in 1941. Although she wanted to continue her studies at the Doctoral level, the outbreak of war and the generally unsupportive attitude towards women academics at the time, prevented this. While searching for a future activity, she met the Editor of the University of Toronto Press. This meeting resulted in her joining the Editorial Department of the Press in 1941. By 1965, Miss Halpenny was Managing Editor of the Press and in 1979 she became the Associated Director (Academic).
Francess Halpenny was also appointed Dean of the Faculty of Library and Information Science (FLIS) at the University of Toronto. Between 1972 and 1984, she was an Associated Instructor at FLIS, teaching a course on contemporary publishing.
Miss Halpenny's contribution to scholarly publishing in Canada is outstanding, garnering national and international recognition. She has worked on a variety of publishing projects, the most important being the Dictionary of Canadian biography of which she was one of the General Editors. The Dictionary is a multi-volume work that provides concise biographies of all persons of Canadian interest who have died in the period from 1000 A.D. to 1920. It has received enthusiastic acclaim from reviewers, librarians and specialists, particularly for its inclusion of original material on lesser-known individuals.
Miss Halpenny also directed a study sponsored by the Book and Periodical Development Council in 1983-1984 designed to assess the selection policies for Canadian materials adopted by public libraries across Canada. The project's findings are published in her work Canadian collections in public libraries. The project was significant because it was conducted at a time when little information was available about Canadian library holdings. Another study directed by Miss Halpenny resulted in her publication From catalogue to reader. This project followed the progress of 150 English-language Canadian books published in the Fall of 1988 from their publication, to their review and acquisition by libraries. Miss Halpenny hoped the project's findings would foster a better understanding among the various parts of the book trade.
Miss Halpenny is a member of various editorial and advisory boards, associations and committees. She has served as a member of the Canadian Historical Association, the Canadian Library Association and the Committee for the Advancement of Women in Scholarship. She was also appointed Chairman of the Committee on Bibliography Services for Canada and Chairman of the National Library Advisory Board.
Miss Halpenny's impressive publication record and distinguished contribution to scholarship and editing in Canada has made her the recipient of numerous awards. Among others, she has received the University of Toronto Sesquicentennial Long Service Honour Award, the Governor General's Commemorative Medal for the 125th anniversary of Confederation and the University of British Columbia's Medal for Canadian Biography. She was awarded the prestigious Molson Prize in 1983 for her formidable editorial work on the Dictionary. Miss Halpenny has also received eleven honorary degrees from various Canadian universities. In 1984 she was named Companion of the Order of Canada as well as President of the Royal Society of Canada.
Francess Halpenny's contributions to the world of academia, publishing, and librarianship are countless and diverse. Realizing that knowledge of Canadian history, scholarship and publication needed to be increased, much of her work as an editor, writer and professor has focussed on that area.
In the various responsibilities she has assumed, Miss Halpenny has successfully merged her abilities as administrator, scholar and editor. Her leadership in Canadian scholarly publishing at a time when women were all too easily discouraged from assuming prominent roles makes her a remarkable figure indeed.
Dictionary of Canadian biography. — Ed. Francess G. Halpenny. — Toronto : University of Toronto Press, c1966- .
Editing Canadian texts : papers given at the Conference on Editorial Problems, University of Toronto, November 1972. — Ed. Francess G. Halpenny. — Toronto : Published for the Committee for the Conference on Editorial Problems by A.M. Hakkert, 1975. — 97 p.
Halpenny, Francess G. — Canadian collections in public libraries : a report. — Toronto : Book and Periodical Development Council, c1985. 280 p.
Halpenny, Francess G. ; Pincoe, Ruth. — From catalogue to reader. — Toronto : Book and Periodical Council, 1992. — 98,  p.