Rare Books Collection | Marshall McLuhan Collection

About the Collection

The Marshall McLuhan Collection was created in 2010 from material within the John M. Kelly Library to mark the centenary of McLuhan’s birth as well as to celebrate McLuhan’s tenure with the University of St. Michael’s College from 1946-1980.  The bulk of the collection was formerly part of the University of St. Michael’s College Publications Collection (a collection of publications by individuals who have been members of the faculty, staff, or student body of the University of St. Michael’s College).  The remainder of material comes from the estate of James Feeley, a former assistant to McLuhan. Feeley, a librarian, was working on a bibliography of McLuhan’s work. His extensive collection of material by and about McLuhan was donated to the Library in 2008.  A small collection of Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller an American engineer, author, designer, inventor, futurist and McLuhan collaborator was also donated by Feeley and is included in the McLuhan Collection.

Highlights of the Collection include rare collector’s items such as a complete set of the newsletter the McLuhan Dewline, as well as inscribed first editions, variant copies and dust jackets.

The Collection will continue to grow through purchases and donations. It does not include the Marshall McLuhan Papers, which were donated to Library and Archives Canada in 1984 by McLuhan’s widow, Corinne McLuhan.

Scope and Content of the Collection

  • Works by McLuhan: Monographs (39 items)
  • Works by McLuhan: Articles and Other Works by McLuhan (201 items)
  • Works about McLuhan: Monographs (15 items)
  • Works about McLuhan: Other (151 items)
  • Interviews with Marshall McLuhan (13 items)
  • Works Related to Marshall McLuhan (29 items)
  • Works Related to Buckminster Fuller (33 items)

The date range of the material is 1936-2009.

Biographical Sketch Of Marshall Mcluhan

Text compiled from:

Marshall McLuhan finding guide, Library and Archives Canada

McLuhan program, Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto

1911: Born in Edmonton, Alberta on July 21

1929-1934: Attends University of Manitoba, receiving a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English literature

1942: Receives doctorate in English literature from Cambridge University (dissertation title: The Place of Thomas Nashe in the Learning of His Time)

1937: Enters the Roman Catholic Church

1946: Joins the faculty of St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto

1953-1959: Teaches seminar on culture and communications, sponsored by the Ford Foundation, from 1953-1955; co-edits with anthropologist Edmund Carpenter, Explorations from 1953 to 1959

1963: Becomes Director of the Centre for Culture and Technology, University of Toronto

1970: Becomes companion of the Order of Canada

1980: Dies on December 31st

Selective Titles by Marshall Mcluhan

Text compiled from:

Marshall McLuhan finding guide, Library and Archives Canada

McLuhan program, Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto

The Mechanical Bride: The Folklore of Industrial Man (1951)
Explorations in Communications (1960), co-edited, with Edmund Carpenter
The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (1962), winner of the Governor General’s prize for critical prose
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964)
Selected Poetry of Tennyson (1965)
The Medium is the Massage (1967), co-authored with Quentin Fiore
War and Peace in the Global Village (1968), co-authored with Quentin Fiore
Through the Vanishing Point: Space in Poetry and Painting (1968), co-authored with Harley Parker
Counterblast (1969), co-authored with Harley Parker;
The Interior Landscape: Selected Literary Criticism, edited by Eugene McNamara.
Culture is Our Business (1970)
From Clich to Archetype (1970), co-authored with Wilfred Watson;
Take Today
The Executive as Dropout (1972), co-authored with Barrington Nevitt
The City as Classroom (1977) co-authored by McLuhan, Eric McLuhan, and Kathryn Hutchon.

Finding Material In The Marshall Mcluhan Collection

For books:

Books in the Marshall McLuhan Collection are fully searchable in the University of Toronto Libraries Catalogue.

For articles:

Articles in the library’s Marshall McLuhan Collection are listed in this finding guide. Scroll down to page 2 of this guide and click on the relevant links.

Marshall McLuhan in other Kelly Library Collections

Special Collections & Archives finding guide for all material in the Kelly Library related to McLuhan.

It includes material in the Marshall McLuhan Collection as well as material related to Marshall McLuhan in other collections within the Special Collections and Archives.

Marshall McLuhan in the Sheila Watson Library Collection

McLuhan acted as advisor on Sheila Watson’s dissertation:Wyndham Lewis and Expressionism completed in 1961.  In addition, Watson acted as a teacher and general assistant to McLuhan.  The Watson Library Collection reflects her close association with him.  These items are also listed in the Marshall McLuhan Material in the John M. Kelly Library: Finding Guide.

121 items in the Watson collection that have the word McLuhan somewhere in the record

52 items in the Watson collection about McLuhan:

66 items in the Watson collection written by McLuhan

See also the Sheila Watson fonds finding guide

Marshall McLuhan in the Sheila Watson fonds

McLuhan and his secretary frequently forwarded correspondence to Sheila Watson to manage and respond to. Watson became a good friend of Marshall and Corrine McLuhan and other members of the McLuhan family. There are 75 cm of textual records related to McLuhan in the Watson fonds, most notably 217 letters from McLuhan to Watson.

Includes:

Correspondence

217 letters and notes from Marshall McLuhan writing from Canada, the United States, France, and England. Includes forwarded correspondence regarding McLuhan’s letters to the editor of various publications; letters from Anne Wyndham Lewis’, the painter’s widow; comments to McLuhan from readers of Watson’s Ph.D. thesis; letters from scholars who had ideas he thought would be of interest to Watson, and submissions for a Festschrift for Watson, as well as a photocopied excerpts and news paper clippings on Wyndham Lewis, theatre, music, media, and news articles regarding his children and family. Included in the fonds is correspondence from Corrine McLuhan (199 letters) and other members of the McLuhan family. Additionally, the fonds contains copies of 47 letters from Cornell University between McLuhan and Wyndham Lewis that Watson had copied for her thesis research.

Notebooks

Watson created notebooks in the course of her personal and professional activities as a writer, Ph.D. student and professor of English. These notebooks tend to contain brief page references and quotations from books, journal articles and magazine columns. Of the 40 notebooks in the Watson fonds eight pertain to McLuhan (ranging in date from 1969-1986).

Collected Material

Watson collected material on McLuhan while he was alive and after his death in 1980, including articles, obituaries, etc. See the published works section of the Finding Guide for a complete listing of Watson’s library items that relate to McLuhan.

Other material

Fonds also contains McLuhan’s annotations on some Watson typescripts, Watson’s manuscripts about McLuhan as well as essays written about McLuhan for a critical anthology edited by Watson (and not published).

Sheila Watson fonds finding guide

Marshall McLuhan in the Wilfred Watson fonds

In the early 1960s, Wilfred Watson made contact with Marshall McLuhan and developed a growing interest in McLuhan’s theories, culminating with their collaboration on the study, From Clich to Archetype. The Watson fonds contains four letters as well as an annotated typescript of Watson’s article “McLuhan’s Wordplay” published in The Canadian Forum, v.61, May 1981.

Wilfred Watson fonds finding guide

Marshall McLuhan in the Fred Flahiff fonds

Fred Flahiff, literary executor for Sheila Watson, wrote the Watson biography Always Someone to Kill the Doves: A Life of Sheila Watson (2005). The fonds contains photocopies and other research material collected by Flahiff in the preparation of the biography, including correspondence between the Sheila Watson and Wilfred Watson with Marshall McLuhan, includes some transcriptions as well as inventories of letters in the Wilfred Watson fonds.

Fred Flahiff fonds finding guide

Marshall McLuhan in the James Feeley fonds

The Feeley material consists of publications, research notes and correspondence regarding James Feeley’s activities as a bibliographer, specifically his efforts to complete a bibliography of McLuhan’s published articles as well as administrative and working files from Feeley’s position as Explorations Administrator, 1966-1970. Fonds includes 12 Letters to Feeley from Marshall McLuhan, 1964-1965, and 1977.

James Feeley fonds finding guide

Marshall McLuhan in the University of St. Michael’s College Archives and the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies Archives

The USMC Archives has very few archival records related to McLuhan as the Marshall McLuhan papers and audio-visual material was donated in 1984 to Library and Archives Canada by his widow, Corinne McLuhan. See the finding guide to these records.

Material in the USMC Archives and PIMS includes: collected material, film about McLuhan on “Heritage Minute”, three photographs, pamphlets and William David Sharpe’s notes from “History of English Literature from Dryden to Keats”, taught by McLuhan, 1948-1949. The Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies archives contains two letters of correspondence between McLuhan and Etienne Gilson and L.K. Shook.

Contact Jessica Barr, University Archivist, for more information: jj.barr@utoronto.ca

Using the Special Collections