Jennifer Prosser Wade fonds


MG H167
Archives and Special Collections Department
Harriet Irving Library
University of New Brunswick
P. O. Box 7500
Fredericton, New Brunswick
E3B 5H5
October 1997

Jennifer Prosser Wade fonds [textual records and other material].-- 1982-1996 ; (predominant 1983-1989).-- 32 cm of textual records, 1 cassette, and 3 video tapes

Biographical sketch: Teacher, writer, human rights activist Jennifer Prosser Wade was born in India where she spent the first decade of her life. Relocating to New Brunswick, she attended university in Fredericton, graduating from UNB with a B.A. in 1958. While undertaking graduate studies at University College in London, England, she was introduced to Amnesty International, an organization dedicated to defending and promoting human rights. Her work with Amnesty influenced her later involvement in numerous humanitarian causes and taught her how to conduct letter writing campaigns and to deal effectively with public officials.

Wade has worked with human rights and volunteer organizations in Canada and the United States as well as abroad. While living in Georgia, she taught writing at Emory University and became involved in the Civil Rights Movement, working with the Southern Regional Council in attempts to reduce racial barriers through education and research. She has also worked with Amnesty in Vancouver, on village projects in Pakistan, and for family resettlement programmes in New York City. As well she has served on the board of directors for the Elizabeth Fry Society, at both the national and provincial levels. In the early 1980s, she moved to Halifax where she taught university courses and headed the local chapter of Amnesty.

While in Halifax, she became interested in the case of Bruce Curtis, a native of Middleton, Nova Scotia. In 1983 Curtis, then age 19, was convicted by a New Jersey court of aggravated manslaughter in the 1982 shooting death of Rosemary Podgis, the mother of his schoolmate Scott Franz. Beginning in 1984, Wade spearheaded the successful press campaign to have Curtis, incarcerated in New Jersey's Bordentown Youth Correction Centre, returned to Canada to serve out his sentence. In May 1988 Curtis was transferred to a Canadian prison and the following year was placed on day parole, having served almost seven years of a 20-year term. Curtis's return to Canada was due largely to Wade's efforts.

Over the years, Wade's activism and volunteerism have won her international recognition. In 1994 the United Nations Association and the B.C. Human Rights Coalition presented her with the Renate Shearer Award, and two years later UNB awarded her an honourary doctor of letters. In 1997 she is residing in Vancouver.

Scope and content: This fonds documents the successful press campaign launched by Jennifer Prosser Wade in 1984 to secure the return to Canada of Bruce Curtis, convicted in 1983 by a New Jersey court of aggravated manslaughter in the shooting death of Rosemary Podgis. At the time, the Nova Scotia native was serving a 20-year sentence in a New Jersey youth facility. This fonds also highlights the involvement of volunteers and members of the Curtis family in the campaign as well as the role played by various political leaders, government officials, lawyers, and journalists.

It includes correspondence, reports, briefs, newspaper clippings, copies of published articles, and three booklets written by Bruce Curtis while incarcerated. It also includes three videos and one cassette tape of radio and television interviews and news programmes aired about the case.

Title based on the name of the creator.

The material comprising this fonds was deposited with Harriet Irving Library Archives and Special Collections Department by Jennifer Prosser Wade on 6 December 1996.

A listing of file titles follows.

A few files were created by the archivist from loose material which arrived with the fonds.

Copyright of video and cassette material is retained by the respective corporations. Researchers may view and listen but not reproduce.

1. Article - by Janice Tyrwhitt, "Web of Violence: The Bruce Curtis Story" (Reader's Digest, 1985)

2. Article - by Jennifer Wade, "The Bruce Curtis Case" (1984)

3. Articles and Newspaper Clippings - Bruce Curtis Case

4. Articles and Newspaper Clippings (American) - Bruce Curtis Case 1984-1987, n.d.

5. Book by David Hayes - No Easy Answers: The Trial and Conviction of Bruce Curtis (includes photocopy of typeset manuscript with pencilled comments in margin as well as review of book by Jennifer Wade)

6. Book by David Hayes - No Easy Answers: The Trial and Conviction of Bruce Curtis (includes correspondence, reviews, notes, comments etc.)

7. Correspondence - Claire Culhane (Prisoners' Rights Group) with justice officials, politicians and others 1984-1989

8. Correspondence - Anne Curtis on behalf of her brother Bruce Curtis 1983-1986, n.d.

9. Correspondence - Bruce Curtis with family, friends, and others 1984-1987 (includes copy of letter to Curtis from a "Silly Teacher")

10. Correspondence and Efforts - James and Alice Curtis on behalf of their son Bruce Curtis 1983-1987 (lawyers, justice officials, politicians)

11. Correspondence - James and Alice Curtis, Jennifer Wade and Lorraine Peever with Janice Tyrwhitt (Reader's Digest) 1984-1985

12. Correspondence (personal) - Lorraine Peever with Sylvia Weldon and Louise & Bus Phillips 1990

13. Correspondence and Efforts - Lorraine Peever on behalf of her nephew Bruce Curtis 1984- 1989 (includes copy of brief to Members of Canadian Parliament by Peever - November 1984)

14. Correspondence - Louise and Bus Phillips on behalf of Bruce Curtis 1986-1989, n.d.

15. Correspondence - Jennifer Wade and others with Nova Scotia political party leaders (Alexa McDonough, John Buchanan,Vincent MacLean et al) 1984-1988, n.d.

16. Correspondence and Efforts - Jennifer Wade on behalf of Bruce Curtis 1983-1989, n.d.

17. Correspondence - Jennifer Wade 1986, 1988-91, 1996 & n.d.

18. Correspondence - Sylvia Weldon (Bruce Curtis Defence Committee of British Columbia) on behalf of Bruce Curtis 1983-1988, n.d.

19. Correspondence and Efforts - by various individuals and committees on behalf of Bruce Curtis 1982-1987 (includes medical report, character references, texts of speeches etc.)

20. Documents - character references, affidavits, statements, court documents, notes of CBC interview etc.

21. Newsletters - prepared by Paris [Ontario] Bruce Curtis Committee 1985-1989 (includes notes and posters concerning vigil and log of mission to United States transfer of Bruce Curtis, 1988)

22. Newspaper Clipping (1992) concerning movie - "Journey into Darkness: The Bruce Curtis Story"

23. Newspaper Clipping (1986) concerning play - "Bruce Curtis: Journey to Bordentown"

24. Newspaper Clippings (1983-1990) - from press and magazines

25. Newspaper Clippings - about cases similar to that of Bruce Curtis

26. Newspaper Clippings (1989) - life of Bruce Curtis after his release from prison

27. "Notes and Reflections from A New Jersey Prison - Bruce Curtis Selected Writings" 1986, 1987, 1988 (3 booklets)

28. Report (Bruce Curtis) "A Study in Sociology" by Lorraine Peever 24 March 1984

29. Vigil (for Curtis) - photos (2)

30. Video -   "Fifth Estate" - 2 May 1984

31. Video - Jennifer Wade re Bruce Curtis interview on Webster, n.d.

32. Video - CBC Program - "Inquiry"; segment titled "Curtis File", n.d.

33. Cassette - Side A - "Sunday Morning" - Bruce Curtis transfer, 21 February 1988


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