a photo of Assumption College in the 1920sDevon Fraser documents the history of Assumption College from its founding in the 1850s to the formation of the University of Windsor.

Outstanding Scholar student captures history of Assumption College

Ever wonder how the University of Windsor came to be? UWindsor Outstanding Scholars student Devon Fraser has captured the unique history with her capstone research project, Assumption College: Through the Decades.

Fraser, a history major and recent graduate, was part of the Outstanding Scholars program, which pairs high-achieving students with faculty and pays them to complete research outside class.

Fraser was paired with Leddy librarian Heidi Jacobs during her second year of undergraduate studies to assist with various historical projects including the Breaking the Colour Barrier, a project that focused on the Chatham Coloured All-Stars baseball team from the 1930s, and the Centre for Digital Scholarship’s film and web project, The North Was Our Canaan: Exploring Sandwich Town’s Underground Railroad History, a partnership with the Essex County Black Historical Research Society.

With Jacobs as her mentor, Fraser was ready to pursue her own historical research project. Inspired by her grandfather, who was employed by the architectural firm who designed the first campus library in 1958 (now the West Building of Leddy Library), she decided to dive into the history of the University.

“The history of the university fascinated me because I found many interesting stories surrounding its creation,” said Fraser. “Events like the battles between Bishop Fallon and Father Francis Forster really highlighted the human side of Assumption College, and these stories demonstrated how difficult and uncertain the creation and maintenance of Assumption College really was.”

Assumption College Through the Decades, a website featuring text and images, provides an overview of Assumption’s long and storied history from its inception in 1857 to its incorporation into the University of Windsor in 1963. Its over 100-year history as an independent institution, notwithstanding its current existence as an affiliated university, showcases stories of resilience, faith, and determination in creating a university to serve the needs of the community in Windsor.

Fraser said the project has not only been extremely beneficial to her academic journey, but has also provided career clarity.

“Working with Dr. Jacobs through Outstanding Scholars has completely altered my career path,” she said. “By working with Dr. Jacobs and seeing the amazing opportunities available in the field of library science, such as this project, I’ve been inspired and encouraged to go into this field myself and will be pursuing a Masters of Library and Information Science at Western University.”

Fraser believes this project is an example of the many possibilities available in the field of library sciences, one that merges traditional academia with modern digitization and online access.

She hopes to encourage others to see the same possibilities in the field and help to modernize library sciences.

Fraser will share her journey and findings during a virtual event on Tuesday, May 11, beginning at 7 p.m. The community is invited to join; the event is free and registration is available online.

—Marcie Demmans