Trent University Library & Archives continues to offer electronic collections and virtual services. As part of the University’s limited and reduced campus presence, Bata Library and the Durham GTA Campus Library & Learning Centre are closed and physical collections are unavailable. Virtual services and support are available by contacting Check for updates regularly on our COVID-19 Alert Page.

Curbside Pickup for Faculty & Graduate Students is available starting June 23rd.

Finding Aid:

Search the Archives

Fonds Level Description

Accession Number: 95-013


Shakespeare Club fonds. -- 1953-2015. -- 13 cm of textual records. -- ca. 50 photographs.

Biography / History

The Shakespeare Club, Peterborough's oldest ladies' club, was founded by Dr. Jessie Birnie in approximately 1912. The club did not meet during World War I but has met continously since 1918. For the most part the club studied and produced plays written by Shakespeare. Studies by the club have included queens of history, great rivers, famous women of history, political studies, world religions, famous authors, poets, playwrights, composers, artists as well as countries and ancient civilizations of the world including studies of these civilizations' arts and literature. Meetings were usually held in members homes with a paper being read about some aspect of what was currently being studied. Food befitting the topic of the occasion was usually supplied for after the meeting. Open meetings were popular as members were able to bring their husbands. The structure of the Club has changed over the years as parliamentary procedure gave way after, World War II, to peculiar Shakespearean rules. Membership elections were eliminated and other methods of selecting the executive were arranged over the years. The Club, with the advent of the Stratford festival, studied pieces being performed for particular seasons and started taking trips to Stratford, Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

Custodial History

This fonds was in the custody of Dr. Fern Rahmel, president of the club from 1983 to 1984, before it was donated to the Trent University Archives.

Scope and Content

This fonds consists of minutes, programs and membership lists of the Shakespeare Club which was a Peterborough women's club.


Title based on creators of the fonds.

This fonds was donated by Dr. Fern Rahmel. New materials are added as they become non-current.

Restrictions: N

Finding aids: Y

Finding Aid

Box 1


1: History of the Club, 1912-1987; membership lists, programs, 1950- 1988

2: Sketches of Club members; toasts

3: Minutes, 1963-1969; 1968-1979

4: Chess trophy photograph

5: Miscellaneous material regarding Diamond anniversary

Folders 6 - 9: Minutes of meetings : 1953-1963; 1967-1968; 1979-1988; 1988-1995; 1995-2005

Materials added 2014 (received via Peggy Kruger).

Folder 10: Photographs, newspaper clipping, historical accounts, correspondence, membership list, etc. re the 100th anniversary of the Shakespeare Club, 2012. (Note: the photographs (38) are primarily of Club members; also included is a photographic reproduction of Dr. J. Bernie).

Materials added 2014 (received via Lucille Strath).

See Isolated Manuscripts #87.

Materials added in 2018 (recieved via Catherine Dibbon).

Folder 11: Papers and minutes, 2010-2015; historical accounts (see also Folder 10); Peterborough Examiner article (10 December 2012)