Rita Johnson Memorial Library

      Posted: March 23, 2016

      CapU Library is celebrating International Women's Day (March 8) with a display of the Rita Johnson Memorial Collection.

      Published during the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s these books reflect the “Second Wave” of feminism. During this time, feminism developed in the context of the civil rights movements, anti-war protests, and the rise of the left. Work place equality, sexuality, and reproductive rights were dominant issues. The movement became increasingly radicalized and created many memorable phrases such as “The Personal is Political”, “Identity Politics” and “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” (this last coined by Irina Dunn in 1970). These books, though a little worn, are examples of an exhilarating and optimistic stage of western feminism.

      The collection was part of the Women's Centre until the early 90s, where Rita had worked as an assistant until her death in 1983. When the Women's Centre was downsized, the Library absorbed the collection. It is on display in the Library foyer until March 13th.

      Here's a brief bio of Rita Johnson, written by the CapU Development Office:

      Rita married Jim Johnson in 1949 and between 1951 and 1966 they had four sons. Rita's choices for a career, as a teenager, were limited to nursing, school teaching and being a clerical worker.  She chose clerical as she was eager to be independent and earn her own money.  She became a first class legal stenographer.

      While Rita was a very devoted wife and mother, she knew that she would require a higher education level to satisfy her need of a challenge.  She began taking night school courses with a goal of getting her Senior Matriculation and perhaps a University education.  Throughout this process, Rita never lost sight of her goal despite many setbacks.  She eventually completed the University Transfer program at Capilano College and obtained her B.A. in Psychology from UBC at age 50.  She was progressing towards her Master's Degree when she died suddenly in 1983.

      There is also a Rita Watson Johnson Memorial Award for Cap U students, which was established in her memory.


      Submitted by: CapU Library