Memorable Manitobans: Angela Elizabeth Pizzey Davis (1926-1994)
Art historian, educator.
Born at Hansworth, Middlesex, England on 22 September 1926, daughter of Winifred Remnant and George Frederick Pizzey, she was educated at The Lady Eleanor Holles School, and graduated in 1945. She then entered King’s College Hospital and graduated as a Registered Nurse in 1948. Following her graduation, she worked at King’s College Hospital as Staff Nurse in charge of the Ear, Nose and Throat Ward and then as Staff Nurse in charge of the Private Patients’ Ward. She returned to her former position as Staff Nurse in charge of the Ear, Nose and Throat Ward for the duration of her employment there.
On 27 April 1950, she married Dr. Royden A. Davis FRCP and moved to Canada the following year, with her husband stationed at Vancouver with the Royal Canadian Air Force. During the 1950s and 1960s, she devoted herself to her family and community. They had five children: Sara, Christopher, Jonathon, Rowan, and Michael. While the family was living at Regina, Saskatchewan in the mid-1960s, she was a founding member of one of the first cooperative childcare centres. After having been a Registered Nurse and a full-time mother, she began her next career in the mid-1970s when she returned to school.
In 1977, Davis graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a BA (Honours) in History. She completed an MA degree in 1979 and had the distinction of being the first graduate of the Joint Masters Program in History between the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. Davis continued with her studies and received her PhD in History from the University of Manitoba in 1987. Davis specialized in British social and cultural history, 1815-1914; Canadian social and cultural history, 1870-1921; Canadian art history, 1840-1950; and European art history, 1750-1930. Other areas of research were Canadian illustrators and engravers, 1840-1940; Canadian women artists, pre-1950; and Western Canadian prairie women, 1900-1930.
She spent the years 1975 to 1994 employed in various position by the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. In 1988, she became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Manitoba and remained in that position until 1994, at which point she retired due to health problems.
Davis was also involved in many history-related activities including consulting work, conference organizing and committee work. She was also a member of several associations including the Canadian Committee on Women’s History, Canadian Historical Association, Canadian Women’s Studies Association, European Studies Group, Manitoba Historical Society, Universities Art Association of Canada, the Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada, and the Women and History Association of Manitoba, of which she was the co-founder. Davis was also the co-founder of the Osborne Gallery in Winnipeg in 1976. She was an Art Consultant for the Gallery from 1977 to 1986. Davis was also the Guest Curator at the University of Winnipeg Gallery in 1989.
Her publications included Art and Work: A Social History of Labour in the Canadian Graphic Art Industry to the 1940s (1994) and several studies of Mary Riter Hamilton.
A longtime member of the Manitoba Historical Society, she served on the Society’s governing council and for a number of years chaired its Program Committee. Over her career, she published a number of works in both art and women’s history and was a frequent contributor to Manitoba History.
In 1993, she suffered what was first thought to be a stroke. After continuing problems with her memory she was examined further. In early 1994, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. She maintained a positive attitude throughout her illness, helped immensely by her family and friends. She died at Winnipeg on 16 October 1994.
Her articles for the Manitoba Historical Society:
Adapted from a biography with the Collected Papers of Angela E. Davis at the University of Manitoba, Archives and Special Collections, which also provided the photograph Angela Davis (St. John's College Collection, PC 141 Box 3 Fd. 2, no. 11).
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 21 December 2020