Black, Martha Louise fonds

Black, Martha Louise, 1866-1957.
Martha Louise Black fonds. - 1923-1965.

26 cm. of textual records.

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Martha Louise Black (1866-1957), Canadian politician and second woman elected to the Canadian House of Commons, was born in Chicago on February 24, 1866. Martha attended St. Mary's College in Notre Dame Indiana. In 1877 Martha married Will Purdy and the two had two sons, Warren and Donald. Martha and Purdy had plans to joint the Klondike gold rush in 1899 but Purdy backed out and instead moved to Hawaii, leaving Martha to travel to the Klondike via the Chilkoot Pass in 1898 with her brother. In January of 1899 she stopped in Dawson City to give birth to her and Purdy's third son Lyman and then returned briefly to Chicago before going again to the Klondike in 1900 where she would live for 54 years. Here she earned money by staking gold mining claims and running a sawmill and iron ore crushing plant. In 1904 Martha met and married George Black, Commissioner of the Yukon from 1912-1916. In 1921 Black was elected to the House of Commons and was speaker of the house from 1930-1935.

In 1935 Martha ran in the federal election and was elected in the Yukon riding as an Independent Conservative, taking over for her ailing husband. Martha was also involved in a variety of social and charity organizations including supporting IODE, the Victorian Order of Nurses, and as a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of England.

In 1938 Martha published the book "My Seventy Years" an autobiography, which was later updated as "My Ninety Years." Martha was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1946 for her social and cultural contributions to the Yukon. She died in Whitehorse on October 31, 1957.


The fonds consists of materials created and accumulated by Martha Louise Black relating to her personal life and social commitments. Includes correspondence, articles, clippings and photographs.


  • Title from content of the fonds.
  • Extent is measured in linear metres of shelf space as occupied by the fonds.
  • The collection was donated by the National Council of Women of Canada as part of the Lady Aberdeen Memorial Library.
  • Additional correspondence with both Martha and George Black is located in the Elizabeth Smith Shortt fonds.

Call number: WA 19