Log in
The logo for the Archives Association of Ontario. When clicked on, you will be taken to the home page.

Shirley Spragge Bursary

What is the Shirley Spragge Bursary?

The Shirley Spragge Bursary supports attendance at the AAO’s annual conference by providing free conference registration and reimbursement of travel costs.

For the 2024 conference, which is being held virtually, up to $500 in bursaries will be provided to cover conference registration fees for students in archival programs, new archivists, and archivists in financial need. Successful applicants who are not currently AAO members can receive complimentary 1-year memberships courtesy of the Association.

Please scroll down to view the bursary criteria and to learn how to apply.

Deadline for application: April 19, 2024

About Shirley Spragge

Shirley Spragge was an archivist of Queen's University and archivist of the Anglican diocese of Ontario. She died on August 1995 in Kingston of scleroderma. Born 22 July 1929 in Toronto, she received an honours history degree from the University of Toronto in 1952. She was married in 1953 to Godfrey Spragge, a professor of urban planning at Queen's. She is survived by her two sons, John Godfrey (Allison MacDuffee) and Michael Peter Cox (Lynne Foran).

Shirley first connected to the practical work of archives through the Ontario Archives, where her father-in-law George Spragge was serving as Provincial Archivist. In 1956 she worked under the direction of Dr. T.R. Millman to complete an inventory of the papers of the Reverend T.B.R. Westgate, a collection that is still useful to researchers interested in mission schools in Africa and more importantly in the continuing assessment of the impact of the Residential Schools for Indigenous Canadians. She introduced the first modem descriptive practices to the then fledging Anglican General Synod Archives.

Shirley worked in the 1970s in the Cornell University Archives. She completed the archives administration course at the Public Archives of Canada in 1973 and her MA in History at Queen's in 1974, before joining the staff of the Queen's University Archives in 1979. In 1986 she completed her PhD in history at Queen's with a dissertation on "Organizing the Wilderness: A Study of a Loyalist Settlement, Augusta Township, Grenville, 1784-1814." Shirley served as Queen's University Archivist from 1992-1994.

While at Queen's she was responsible for the development of the archives programme for the Kingston General Hospital. She took a particular interest in making accessible fonds of women and those relating to the history of fine arts in Canada. As Paul Banfield has noted, Shirley was proud of her role in "RADicalizing" Queen's archival descriptive practices.

Shirley was active as secretary of the Queen's faculty association and worked to ensure that this association would always be described as an association of faculty, librarians, and archivists. A founding member of the Ontario Women's History Network, she was active in local history, women's history, and women and theology groups. She also served on the Inter-faith Council at Queen's University.

Shirley's energy and commitment was legendary. Her support for women in the profession was given unstintingly. She was always looking to help the new archivist or the archivist from the small and struggling repository. She was a supporter of the development of the Archives Technician Programme at Algonquin College.

We have all benefited from Shirley's warmth and her honesty, from her passion for life and her commitment to the profession. Her last note to Lisa Russell is a message for all of us: "I had no idea things would end so quickly. We've had a wonderful working relationship. Be good to the genealogists, but please keep up your archival skills. Affectionately, Shirley."

Excerpted from Archivaria
By Terry Thompson
General Synod Archives
The Anglican Church of Canada

The Shirley Spragge Bursary

History of the Bursary

In 1998 the Shirley Spragge Fund was initiated by Joyce Pettigrew with the Archives Association of Ontario to support educational endeavours in the archives field. The fund requirements stated that the grant needed to reach a maturation of $20,000 before disbursement. In 2014, the Shirley Spragge Fund investments reached maturation. The AAO Board initiated discussion with the AAO volunteer community to organize, promote, and adjudicate the funds in the form of a bursary.

As per Motion 51/2014, the Board approved the use of Shirley Spragge Fund for the AAO’s annual conference fee and up to $650.00 in travel.

As per Motion 52/2014, the Shirley Spragge Fund is disbursed as the Shirley Spragge Bursary. Beginning in 2015, the Shirley Spragge Bursary is awarded annually to a successful applicant for their travel (up to $650.00) and conference fee at the annual AAO Conference.

The Shirley Spragge Bursary is adjudicated by the Awards Committee.

Criteria and Questions for Applications

To be eligible to apply for the Shirley Spragge Bursary you must:

Be an Ontario resident and

Be either:

  • a student enrolled in a recognized archival program (must submit proof of enrolment);
  • a recent (1-3 years) graduate of a recognized archival program (must submit proof of program completion);
  • or a practicing (or volunteer) archivist in financial need (must submit proof of employment or volunteering).

Applicants who self identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or a Person of Colour (BIPOC) will be prioritized in the adjudication of the bursaries.

Application Questions

In addition to providing a travel cost estimate (not applicable in 2024) and identifying intended activities at the AAO Conference applicants should be prepared to:

Describe your interest in attending the 2024 AAO Conference. 
Outline what type of professional development you hope to gain from the conference.

Submitting your application

Fill in the bursary application and demonstrate:  

      • financial need
      • interest in archives education / professional development
      • confirmed intent to participate in the conference

    Supporting documentation can be sent to with the subject line "2024 Shirley Spragge Bursary."

    705-1 Eglinton Ave. East

    Toronto ON

    M4P 3A1

    (647) 343-3334

    Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software