Fonds MS-2-774 - Joan and Henry Orenstein fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Joan and Henry Orenstein fonds

General material designation

  • Graphic material
  • Textual record

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • [194-?] - [before 2011] (Creation)
    Orenstein, Henry, 1918-2008

Physical description area

Physical description

7.3 cm of textual records
76 photographs : b&w ; 25.5 x 20.5 cm or smaller
41 photographs : col. ; 20 x 25 cm or smaller
84 sketches : b&w ; 33 x 23 cm or smaller
28 negatives : 6 x 5.5 cm or smaller
1 sketch : col. ; 32 x 22.5 cm
3 paintings : col. ; 23 x 28 cm or smaller
1 art piece : b&w ; 26 x 22 cm
100 slides : col. ; 5 x 5 cm
55 slides : b&w ; 5 x 5 cm
7 prints : b&w ; 22 x 29 cm or smaller
2 posters : b&w ; 21.5 x 28 cm
2 postcards : col. ; 15 x 10 cm or smaller

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Henry Orenstein was a visual artist and long-time graphic designer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Born in 1918 in Midland, Ontario, he grew up in Toronto, where he developed a lifelong interest in politics and human rights. He was a foot soldier in World War Two, which cemented his commitment to pacifism. After the war he met and married his wife Joan Tramell. They left England for New York, where he studied painting at the Art Students League, later returning to Toronto to work as an artist. In the 1950s they moved to Halifax, where Orenstein was employed by the CBC as a graphic designer. He also taught animation and drawing at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design while producing his own art and becoming an active member of Halifax's arts community. His work hangs in Sudbury Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. He died on 8 August 2008.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Joan Orenstein was an accomplished Canadian stage and film actor. She was born Joan Travell on 4 December 1923 in London, England, and studied sociology at the London School of Economics during World War Two. She emigrated to North America in the late 1940s after meeting her Canadian-born husband Henry Orenstein. They moved to New York for two years, where he studied painting, she worked for the economist Karl Polanyi, and together they helped to register voters for the civil rights movement. After moving to Toronto she worked with the United Jewish Peoples Order and sang with the Toronto Jewish Folk Choir. In the mid fifties, when Henry's work brought them to Halifax, which would remain their home, Joan began writing for radio and television while raising their five daughters. She began acting in her forties, and had leading roles on major stages across Canada, including Centuar Theatre, Montreal; National Arts Centre, Ottawa; Tarragon Theatre, Toronto; Belfry Theatre, Victoria; Theatre Calgary; the Shaw Festival; and the Manitoba Theatre Centre; and, primarily, Neptune Theatre, Halifax. She also acted for radio, television and film, winning an Atlantic Canada Award and Genie for her work in The Hanging Garden (1997) and an Atlantic Canada Award for The Event (2003). The youngest of her daughters, Sarah Orenstein, was also an actor, appearing with her mother in Mrs Klein and Song of this Place at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. Joan Orenstein died on 10 October 2009.

Custodial history

Materials were donated to Dalhousie University Archives by Sarah Orenstein on June 24, 2011. Further information about custodial history is unknown.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of Joan and Henry Orenstein's materials regarding their professional activities, including photographs, negatives, sketches, programs, flyers, posters, postcards, slides, correspondence and other materials. Fonds includes several photographs of Joan Orenstein acting, Henry Orenstein's art pieces and sketches, and Joan and Henry Orenstein's family photographic negatives.

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Language of material

  • English
  • French

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Restrictions on access

There are no access restrictions on these materials. All materials are open for research.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Materials do not circulate and must be used in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room. Materials may be under copyright. Contact departmental staff for guidance on reproduction.

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Further accruals are not expected.

General note

Preferred citation: [Identification of item], Joan and Henry Orenstein fonds, MS-2-774, Box [box number], Folder [folder number], Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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Language of description

  • English

Script of description


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