Fonds MG4270 - Margaret A. Somerville Fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Margaret A. Somerville Fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the fonds.

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1934-2016 (Creation)
    Somerville, Margaret A.

Physical description area

Physical description

21.75 m textual records
1620 photographic records
70 VHS videocassettes
49 audio cassettes
31 DVDs
21 CDs
2 computer disks
63 works of art
16 posters
23 diplomas
2 pins
3 plaques
5 medals
1 button
10 published works
1 sash
1 t-shirt
1 wine stopper

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Margaret Anne Ganley was born in 1942 in Australia. Her father was George P. Ganley and her mother Gertrude Rowe Ganley. She married Peter Somerville in 1966. She graduated from the University of Adelaide in Pharmacy and the University of Sydney in Law. She continued her education in Canada where she received her PhD in Civil Law from McGill University in 1978. She joined McGill’s Faculty of Law as an assistant professor in 1978, became an associate professor in 1979 and was named as the Samuel Gale Professor of Law in 1989. Concurrently, she held appointments in the Faculty of Medicine as an associate professor in 1980 and as a full professor from 1984. In 1986 she became the founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law.

Custodial history

These records have been acquired directly from Margaret A. Somerville’s office at McGill University. The private records were appraised on site and separated from the official records of McGill’s Centre for Medicine Ethics and Law. Somerville was the founding Director of this centre.

Scope and content

The fonds chiefly reflects the public role of Margaret Somerville through the dissemination of her ideas on ethical issues through conferences, lectures, various publications, teaching activities, consults and research with some records concerning her family and personal life. The fonds consists of the following series; conference papers and lectures, (1981-2013), committee memberships, (1977-2005); media relations, (1980-2013); personal/family matters, (1934-2016); writing/publishing activities, (1979-2015); communications, (1983-2010); subject files/consults,(1987-2015); teaching materials, (1990-2015); and general filing, (1995-2016).

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


The files created as a result of Margaret Somerville’s responsibilities as the Director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law were excluded from these private records. The remaining records were kept in the original order that she created. Roughly 10% of the files were found as loose papers and had not been included in the filing system. These files were placed in the appropriate series based on their form and content. Most of these records were added to the communications and subject files/consult series. Extra copies of materials were weeded from the files, especially in the conference papers and lectures series. Materials that Margaret Somerville did not herself create or annotate were also weeded from the files.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script note

The language of the material is predominately English.

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

The materials are open for consultation by researchers with the exemption of some private confidential communications (15 cm) restricted for a period of twenty (20) years from the date of the donation. As well there are two sets of consultations that are closed. Due to the medical information found in the records one set is closed for 100 years from the creation of the documents (15 cm) and the other set (10 cm), containing nominative information, is closed for 30 years after the death of the person concerned.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

The Donor transfers the copyright that she holds in the fonds to the McGill University Archives.

Finding aids

The finding aid consists of a file level listing for textual material and an item level description for printed matter, photographic, graphic and audio-visual materials (

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No further accruals are expected.

Alternative identifier(s)

Accession no.

2010-0110; 2016-0033

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