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Accession Number
Archival Accessions
Accession Number
Material Format
multiple media
Physical Description
3 cm of textual records
3 photographs : b&w ; 13 x 9 cm and smaller
[ca. 1920]-2012
Scope and Content
Accession consists of records related to the history of the Dora Wilensky Salsberg Memorial Fund at Jewish Family and Child. Included are: a Canadian Jewish News feature ("Legacy of Life") on Dora Wilensky; a Dora Wilensky Memorial Fund pamphlet; correspondence from J.B. Salsberg regarding Sharyn’s ongoing role with the Jewish Communal Service Graduate Studies Scholarship Program; correspondence regarding the Fund between Sharyn Salsberg Ezrin and Richard Cummings, Ron Levin, Gordon Wolfe, and Sam Helfenbaum; fund and endowment statements regarding the Dora Wilensky Memorial Fund; and correspondence between Sharyn and the Toronto Jewish Congress Endowment Fund. Also includes: records documenting the J.B. Salsberg Tribute Dinner held at Beth Sholom Synagogue on November 13, 1991; Canadian Jewish News and Toronto Life profiles of J.B. Salsberg; an interview of J.B. Salsberg by Sandy Naiman; J.B. Salsberg's eulogy by Irving Abella; and one DVD of a J.B. Salsberg video tribute. Also includes three photographs of J.B. Salsberg and Dora Wilensky, and four issues of various JF&CS publications.
Administrative History
Dora Wilensky Salsberg was one of Toronto’s earliest professionally trained Jewish social workers and a leader in the Canadian social work field. She was born in Russia on July 28, 1902 to Hyman and Mary Wilensky. She had three younger sisters: Bertha (b. 1903) Jenny (b. 1905), and Fagel (b.1910). In 1907, the family immigrated to Toronto where Hyman worked at a cap factory.
Dora had the highest marks in the province of Ontario upon graduating from high school and graduated as a gold medalist in modern history from McMaster University in Toronto. She initially pursued a career in teaching, but had difficulty securing a job due to discrimination. When her only job offer from Oshawa was given on the condition that she change her last name, Dora decided to become a social worker.
After studying at the New York School for Social Work and working briefly in Chicago, Dora returned to Toronto and took up the position as Executive Director of the Jewish Family Welfare Bureau in 1931. When the JF&CS was formed in 1943 she served as its first Executive Director. Under her leadership, JF&CS gained a reputation as being one of the most advanced and progressive agencies in Toronto. She was among the first to hire a psychiatric social worker and to introduce play therapy as part of treatment; she remained on top of advances being made in the field in other countries and encouraged her staff to regularly engage in professional development activities.
Dora attempted to enter the United States for professional development in the fall of 1948. She was refused entry by the commissioner of immigration and naturalization. Her aim was to attend a postgraduate course in social work at the University of Pennsylvania. In spite of numerous official letters of endorsement, her application for admission was denied.
Dora was also actively involved in various professional organizations. She was a member of the National Board of the Canadian Association of Social Workers, served on the Board of Governors and various committees of the Canadian Welfare Council, and was active on the Social Planning Council (formerly the Welfare Council of Toronto). In addition, she was instrumental in the establishment of the University of Toronto’s post-graduate course in social work. For her service to the field, she earned both the King George V and Coronation medals.
In 1927, Dora married J. B. Salsberg. Although she legally adopted his name, she always used her maiden name professionally. They did not have any children. On March 20, 1959, Dora passed away from cancer at the age of 56.
Name Access
Salsberg, J. B. (Joseph B.), ca. 1903-1998
Wilensky, Dora, 1902-1959
Toronto, Ont.
Archival Accessions