SGS Celebrates Graduate Student Winners of Federal Tri-Council Awards - Shelby Martens

Author: Andrea

Posted on Jun 23, 2021

Category: Money Matters , Student Stories

Profile of Shelby Blair Martens

Award Received: Canada Graduate Scholarship, Doctorate Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Awarded for the project: “From Missionettes to Calvinettes to Pioneer Girls: Lived Religion and the Role of Faith-Based Girls’ Groups in Canada in the Secular Age, 1950 to 1980”

Faculty: Arts

Department: History

Project supervised by: Dr. Heidi MacDonald

Young women were exhorted to “cherish health, seek truth, know God, and serve others” by the Canadian Girls in Training, one of many faith-based girls’ groups active in Canada over the 20th century. Developed as Christian alternatives to the popular girl guide movement, such organisations met weekly to conduct lessons, build crafts, do badgework, learn skills, develop relationships, and grow in their faith. I study their hidden curriculum to understand how they attempted to shape girls into active rural citizens, church members, and future mothers.

I am interviewing women who attended these groups in Canada between 1950 and 1989 because many church organizations saw the postwar decades as volatile, with spreading secularisation, rapidly increasing consumerism, increasing youth disillusionment and the sexual revolution. As a feminist researcher, I use oral history interviews to reveal the otherwise hidden lived experiences of girls in Canadian history.

With a special emphasis on rural childhood, leisure, and lived religion, my research shows the long-term impact of these programs on women and society today. Additionally, my research compares women’s experiences with the efforts of the public school system and how this past informs current youth-based groups in their curriculum development and programming.