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Women's History at RBSC

A guide to women's archival materials at UBC's Rare Books and Special Collections

About These Collections

The fonds and collections included here contain the records of women and organizations that dedicated themselves or significant portions of their lives to politics, advocacy, activism, and various social agendas. The collections are organized into women who held political office, women and organizations that advocated on behalf of political parties, and various spheres of social activism.

Note: Although women's rights are most certainly human rights, they have been separated here to highlight which collections focus specifically on the advancements of women's rights.

political pamphlet featuring Rosemary Brown

Rosemary Brown, whose fonds is housed at RBSC, was a former MLA and the first Black woman elected to B.C. legislature. She is pictured here in a political campaign pamphlet from the 1970s.

Image source: 'Rosemary Brown Is' pamphlet. (n.d.). [Pamphlet]. Rosemary Brown fonds (RBSC-ARC-1077-22-2). UBC Library Rare Books and Special Collections. Vancouver, Canada.

Women in Public Office

Colin Cameron was born in England in 1896 and immigrated to Canada, where he began sheep farming and industrial labour on Vancouver Island in the early 1920s. He first ran for provincial office in 1937 for the CCF and retained his Nanaimo seat as MLA until 1953. He then became an MP for Nanaimo-Cowichan from 1953-58 and 1962-68. The fonds consists of correspondence as well as a large series from former MLA Dorothy Gretchen Steeves (whose fonds is also at RBSC) dated 1950-1965, relating to her political activities and describing CCF philosophy.


Doreen Braverman was born in Richmond, B.C. in 1932 and received a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of British Columbia in 1964. After being a teacher for several years, she became involved with the B.C. Liberal Party, eventually becoming president of the West Point Grey Liberals (1970-1971). Her success at that post allowed her to become treasurer of the B.C. Liberal Party in 1972 and then its president in 1973. Her efforts at promoting the Liberal Party, however, were not limited to provincial politics. In 1975, Braverman was co-chair of the Federal Liberal Party Convention in Ottawa and, in 1986, she ran as the Liberal candidate for Vancouver-Point Grey in the 1986 B.C. provincial election. The fonds consists of correspondence, subject files, reports, memoranda, documents, newsletters, newspaper articles, pamphlets, letters, and photographs relating to the activities of the British Columbia Liberal Party at both the provincial and federal levels.


Dorothy Gretchen Biersteker Steeves was born in Amsterdam in 1891. Throughout her life, she pursued an active career dominated by her interests in politics, economics, and activism. She earned a Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Leiden in Holland and served as a legal advisor to the Dutch Government Rationing Bureau during WWI. Following her marriage, she and her husband moved to Vancouver in 1919. In the 1920s, she became Secretary of the University Women's Club and the League of Nations Society in Vancouver. In 1933, she was elected as an M.L.A. in North Vancouver and then twice re-elected. After her electoral defeat in 1945, she spent many years within the framework of the CCF movement serving on executive boards at the provincial and federal levels. Besides writing innumerable editorials and articles on international affairs for the CCF and NDP Press, she wrote “The Compassionate Rebel” editorials and Builders and Rebels: A Short History of the CCF.

The fonds consists of Steeves’ materials and records chronicling the growth of socialism in Canada and the formation and history of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and the New Democratic Party, as well as with various aspects of the issues of human rights, peace, and disarmament. There is also autobiographical material and records pertaining to Unitarianism.


Grace MacInnis was born in 1905 as the daughter of J.S. Woodsworth, co-founder of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). Following her marriage to Angus MacInnis, she enjoyed an active political career, both provincially and federally. She was a party and caucus secretary until 1941 and, in 1958, she became provincial president of the CCF. After her husband's death in 1965, she began a nine-year career as MP for Vancouver-Kingsway. Her interests included the status of women, poverty, and housing. The fonds consists of correspondence, printed material, video and audio cassettes, photographs, notebooks, diaries, and speech material reflecting the political career and personal life of Grace MacInnis.


Heroldine Copp began her active involvement with the Vancouver-Burrard Liberal Association in 1931 and, over the next 35 years, she held numerous positions, including Chair of a number of committees and President. She was also President of the Vancouver Board of Trade from 1945 to 1948. The fonds consists of materials created and accumulated by Copp in relation to her long involvement with the Vancouver-Burrard Liberal Association. Materials include agendas, correspondence, minutes, newsletters, notes, and reports.


Hilda Louise Thomas (nee Halpin) was born in 1928 in Kimberley, B.C. After graduating from the University of British Columbia, she went on to become a Senior Instructor in the English Department, where she taught for 30 years. Thomas was also an active member of the New Democratic Party and its predecessor, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) from 1951 until the end of her life. Over the years, she ran for city council, the provincial NDP, and the federal NDP, in addition to acting as the chair of the Federal Participation of Women Committee and participating in the BC Women’s Rights Committee (WRC). She was also interested in activism at the community level, helping found Everywoman’s Health Clinic, the first freestanding abortion clinic in British Columbia, as well as the Endowment Lands Regional Park Committee, which worked to preserve Pacific Spirit Park as a Regional Park. The fonds consists of records related to Thomas's activities as a politician, UBC professor, and community activist.


Joan Sawicki was born in Burnaby, B.C. in 1945. In the 1960s, she attended the University of Victoria, earning a B.A. in Education and subsequently working as a secondary school teacher in Williams Lake and Armstrong until 1972. Over time, she developed an interest in environmental and agricultural issues. She eventually worked in both Ottawa and B.C. for the Ministry of Agriculture and the British Columbia Agricultural Land Commission. From 1987 to 1990, Sawicki served on the Burnaby City Council. She chaired the environment and waste management committee and sat as a municipal representative on both the Greater Vancouver Regional District waste management committee and the Metropolitan Board of Health. Sawicki also served as the director of the International Centre for Sustainable Cities.

In 1985, she was nominated to run for the New Democratic Party. Although she was defeated in 1986, Sawicki ran again and won in 1991 and 1996, serving as MLA for Burnaby-Willingdon from 1991-2001. She was elected speaker of the Legislative Assembly in March 1992, serving for two years. She then served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Municipal Affairs from 1994-1996, before assuming the same position for the Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks from 1996-1998. She eventually resigned from her position over issues concerning a proposed land development project that was to take place on protected land under the Agricultural Land Reserve at Six Mile Ranch near Kamloops. From 1999-2000, Sawicki served as Minister of Environment, Lands, and Parks.

The fonds consists of newspaper clippings, correspondence, handwritten notes, news releases, reports, minutes, government brochures, and maps collected by Sawicki during her years on the Burnaby City Council and as an MLA for the riding of Burnaby-Willingdon. The majority of records relate to issues on the environment and agriculture which reflect her major interests while serving at both civic and provincial levels.​


Rosemary Brown was born in Jamaica in 1930 and moved to Canada in 1950 to attend McGill University, where she obtained an undergraduate degree in Women’s Studies. In 1955, she relocated to B.C., where she earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of British Columbia. Drawn to feminism and the peace movement, Brown established the Vancouver Status of Women. In 1972, she became a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the riding of Vancouver-Burrard and thus became the first Black woman elected to B.C. legislature, where she served as an MLA for 14 years until 1986, when she retired from politics. As an MLA for B.C., Rosemary fought for such issues as: ending discrimination; eliminating sexism in textbooks; the equality of women; affirmative action; and laws that protect rape victims. After her retirement from politics, Rosemary served as Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission from 1993-96. The fonds consists of correspondence, speeches, research notes, and articles on various issues, such as discrimination, inequality of women, affirmative action, and sexual assault.

 

Political Party Advocates

Born in Scotland in 1905, Amy Dalgleish emigrated to Canada at an early age and eventually settled in Vancouver, B.C. Active with a number of socially conscious groups, she became president of a breastfeeding advocacy group called INFACT and was a long time Cooperative Commonwealth Federation supporter, eventually running as an NDP candidate in Vancouver. The fonds consists of subject files created and accumulated by Dalgleish that relate to various organizations in which she was involved, such as the New Democratic Party and the Vancouver Society of Friends for the Elderly.


The British Columbia Provincial CCF Women's Council supported the aims of the greater Cooperative Commonwealth Federation. The fonds consists of a bound minute book reflecting the administrative and operational activities of the Council between 1958 and 1961.


Ormand Lee Charlton was one of the first organizers of the British Columbia CCF party in the early 1930s. The family’s fonds consists of papers generated mostly by the Charlton family. The records themselves generally relate to the early CCF movement in British Columbia and other socialist and labour movements across Canada. The fonds also includes a collection of CCF poems written by Charlton's wife Annie as well as essays written by famed socialist thinker Mildred Macleod.


Evelyn Smith joined the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation in 1933, but later disagreed with the movement for what she believed were its departures from the principles of the Regina Manifesto. In later years, she became a strong environmental activist. The fonds consists of correspondence, clippings pertaining to the CCF political movement, an interview transcript, and Smith's newsletters, newspaper columns, and submissions to various commissions.


Leonard Shepherd was born in England in 1897, moved to B.C. in 1910, and eventually became an MLA representing Delta. His fonds is included in this guide because it contains three sub-fonds representing the materials of his wife, Dorothy H. Shepherd, as well as Margaret and Marion Shepherd. The papers of Dorothy and Margaret, in particular, relate to their work as executive members of the South Westminster CCF Women’s Club (1939-1959).


The Women's Rights Committee was officially established in 1971 as a standing committee of the provincial NDP, but its roots date back to the 1962 Women's Committee. The general function of the Women's Rights Committee is to develop policy on women's issues and to encourage the participation of women in the political process. The fonds consists of records pertaining to B.C. Women's Rights committees as well as to the Task Force on Older Women in British Columbia. Included are sound recordings, steering committee annual files (1975-1983), correspondence, committees, conferences, subject files, newsletters (1973-1984), publications, ephemera and resource files.


Olga Reithaug was involved with the B.C. Cooperative Commonwealth Youth Movement. The fonds consists of photographs depicting conventions and groups (CCF or CCYM), press releases, correspondence, newspaper clippings, publications, and a brief historical outline of the Cooperative Commonwealth Youth Movement written by Reithaug. The materials span from 1933-1985 and reflect the workings of the CCYM, the issues with which it involved itself, and its relationship with the CCF.


The Vancouver Burrard NDP Constituency Association fonds consists of 30cm of textual records and 100 photographs—including minutes, correspondence, subject files, and printed material—relating to the activities of the constituency office and two of its elected members, Rosemary Brown and Norman Levi. Rosemary Brown, whose fonds is also housed at RBSC, was a former MLA and the first Black woman elected to B.C. legislature


The Women's Committee of the New Democratic Party of British Columbia (1961-1963) discussed issues relating to women and brought resolutions forward to conventions. The fonds consists of a handwritten minute book into which some loose typed and handwritten material have been inserted, comprised chiefly of correspondence as well as some lists of names.

Labour Activists

The Association of University and College Employees (AUCE) began in 1973 when library and clerical workers on university and college campuses across British Columbia began organizing as a union in order to represent their collective interests. When the union formed, over ninety percent of its members were women and one of their top concerns was equal pay for what was at the time considered “women’s work”. Over the next decade, they fought for wages to match the rising cost of living, transparent job classifications, maternity leave, childcare, and other employee benefits. They also demanded a discrimination free workplace for people of all genders, sexualities, races, and ethnicities. They disbanded in 1985 and eventually became a chartered local union of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in 1987.

The fonds consists of records related to the AUCE's provincial and local chapters' activities, efforts, publications, and ephemera. Records span the provincial and local unions' initial accreditation in 1973, to the provincial union disbanding in 1985, and then follow the Local 1 (University of British Columbia) chapter through to its merger with CUPE in 1985 and forward into the late 2000's.

Digitized versions of the materials in the fonds are available here at UBC Open Collections.


Ruth Bullock met her husband Reginald in 1938 and together they worked towards their shared interests in labour unions and socialism. The Bullocks were expelled from the NDP in the 1960s and Ruth remained active in the socialist movement and as an advocate for human rights. In 1993, a thesis was written about her by Heather McLeod entitled “‘Not Another God-Damned Housewife’: Ruth Bullock, The ‘Woman Question’ and Canadian Trotskyism” (Simon Fraser University). The fonds consists of correspondence as well as subject files, posters, photographs, and pamphlets relating to the activities of the Revolutionary Workers League and its predecessors: the League for Social Action, Socialist Educational League, and the Revolutionary Workers Party. 


Jean Stewart Sheils was born in February 1927 in Vancouver, BC, the second child of Ethel and Arthur “Slim” Evans. Her father was a well-known labour rights organizer originally from Toronto, ON, who led the 1935 On-to-Ottawa Trek in which over 1,000 unemployed men rode the rails to Ottawa to appeal to the government for better working conditions at the government organized labour relief camps. This Trek ended in Regina on July 1st, 1935 when Trekkers and supporters were confronted with violence by the local police and RCMP. After her father’s death, Jean devoted her adult life to the cause he had believed in: fair work and wages. She was a founding member of the On-to-Ottawa Trek Committee that was formed in 1985 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Trek, which eventually resulted in the On-to-Ottawa Historical Society. As well as performing volunteer work for the labour rights cause, Jean and Ben Swankey co-wrote a book in 1977, entitled Work and Wages!, a semi-account of the life of Arthur “Slim“ Evans. The research collection consists of textual records, newspaper clippings, documents, photographs, printed material, audio cassettes, and a VHS video cassette relating to the life of Arthur Evans, the On-to-Ottawa Trek Committee, the On-to-Ottawa Historical Society, and Work and Wages!


The Labour Research collection was donated by Colleen Toppings Bourke, former Communications Director at the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of British Columbia. The collection consists of typescript interviews relating to BC labour history and education conducted by Toppings Bourke and Paul Phillips in 1964. 


Lily (Steinman) Greene was born in 1916 in Toronto, Ontario. In 1932, she graduated as a stenographer from the Toronto Central High School of Commerce and subsequently began work in the needle trade – a period that marked the beginning of her labour and social justice activism. As a dress-maker, she served on the organizing committee for her section of the Industrial Union of Needle Trades Workers. She also joined the Central Division of the Canadian Jewish Congress in 1938 and worked in the head office of the Worker’s Unity League and Worker’s Educational Association during that time. After the war, she continued her work as a labour organizer, moving to a full-time position in the head office of the Mine, Mill and Smelter Worker’s Union. In 1967, a merger of steel industry unions took place and together they formed the United Steelworkers. Greene was assigned to the Toronto office of the merged union and worked there until her retirement in 1982. She was also highly active in the movement against the Vietnam War during the 1960s and early 1970s, becoming a charter member of the Voice of Women (now known as the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace). The fonds contains correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, and essays. Although the letters are of a personal nature, many contain discussions of, or references to, issues important to the Communist Party in Canada and elsewhere.


The Service, Office and Retail Workers Union of Canada (SORWUC) was an independent union, established in 1972 by a Founding Convention of 24 women, with the intention of representing and organizing occupations that were not included in the traditional trade unions of the time. The union developed out of the Working Women’s Association, an organization that sought to provide support to the adversities facing working women, such as obtaining equal pay, day care provision, and job security. SORWUC was an unaffiliated, feminist, member-controlled union, and the constitution stated their aims as being: to bargain collectively on behalf of members; to improve working conditions; and to help provide job security.

The fonds consists of records related to SORWUC’s active period between 1972-1986 that pertain to the functioning of their National Headquarters, Local sections, and the union as a whole within its communities. The content is primarily focused in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, but the union's influence reached a national level, including activity in the prairies, Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. While the central concern of SORWUC was directly related to unionization, the records also concern feminist activity and the pursuance of equal rights for women in society. The material is in the form of correspondence, financial records and statements, various publications, and photographs.


The Service, Office and Retail Workers Union of Canada (SORWUC) was an independent union, established in 1972 by a Founding Convention of 24 women, with the intention of representing and organizing occupations that were not included in the traditional trade unions of the time. The union developed out of the Working Women’s Association, an organization that sought to provide support to the adversities facing working women, such as obtaining equal pay, day care provision, and job security. SORWUC was an unaffiliated, feminist, member-controlled union, and the constitution stated their aims as being: to bargain collectively on behalf of members; to improve working conditions; and to help provide job security.

The fonds consists of records related to SORWUC’s local chapters 2 and 4 administrative activities, organizing endeavours, and legal proceedings. Although the records are primarily related to the United Bank Works (UBW) local 2 and Bank and Finance Workers Union local 4, many records are related to SORWUC’s national activities as a trade union.

Human Rights Activists

Claire Culhane was born in Montreal in 1918 and moved to Vancouver, B.C. in the early 1950s. In 1976, she began working tirelessly for prison reform as a member of the Citizen's Advisory Committee at the B.C. Penitentiary. As a founder and vocal member of the Vancouver-based Prisoners' Rights Group, Culhane has written two books on prison reform and her experiences in fighting the prison system, entitled Barred from Prison (1979) and Still Barred from Prison (1985). The fonds spans the years of 1975-1996 and consists of correspondence, subject files, printed material, and documents related to Culhane's social


Jackie Maniago was born in 1936 in Trail, B.C. She began her involvement in advocacy for persons with intellectual disabilities after the birth of her youngest son, Norman. While she desired to take care of Norman at home, she and her husband were ultimately unable to. Norman was thus placed into care at Woodlands, an institution serving people with intellectual disabilities, where Maniago found there was little support for her family and families of other Woodlands residents. She and a group of other parents of Woodlands residents came together to create the Woodlands Parents' Group (1976), which later helped form the Community Living Society (1978), Family Link Society (1983), and the Community Brokerage Service Society (1988). It was these efforts to improve the quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities that led to the closure of Woodlands, investigations into the abuses inflicted on its residents, and the beginnings of the Community Living movement in British Columbia and the rest of Canada. The fonds consists of records created and collected by Maniago, including those associated with her involvement in various advocacy efforts.


James Loughery was a B.C. Corrections Officer who corresponded with prison abolitionist Claire Culhane about the penitentiary system. The fonds consists mainly of correspondence of outgoing and incoming photocopied letters to Claire Culhane and Noam Chomsky, as well as copies of articles and speeches written by Claire Culhane. Culhane's fonds is also housed at RBSC.


This fonds reflects the lives of Leonard and Kitty Maracle, an Indigenous couple who were politically active members of their community. Cordelia “Kitty” Maracle (née Hill) was born in 1923 in New York State and married Leonard Maracle in 1946. They each participated in political organizations dedicated to advocating for the rights of Indigenous peoples, particularly Non-Status Indians and, in Kitty’s case, Indigenous women. Some of the organizations include the B.C. Native Women’s Society, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the B.C. Association of Non-Status Indians (BCANSI), the Longhouse Indian Arts and Crafts Cooperative, and the Greater Vancouver Local chapter of the Metis Association. Kitty passed away in 2010 after 63 years of marriage to Leonard. The fonds consists of correspondence, meeting minutes, proposals and reports, notes, publications, newspaper clippings, photographs and various ephemera relating to Aboriginal rights and political activity primarily in British Columbia but also throughout Canada. The fonds also contains some of Leonard and Kitty’s personal papers, including correspondence, family photographs, writings and notes.


Renate Elizabeth Shearer attended Ohio State University, where she received a degree in Social Administration in 1953 and subsequently worked as a social worker.  In 1970, she became a community worker with the YMCA and, two years later, became its Director of Branch and Area Development. From 1975 to 1981, Shearer served as Social Planner for the City of Vancouver. In the early 80s, she taught classes at the University of British Columbia in the School of Social Work. Throughout her career, she was very active in social service-related issues, the promotion of human rights, and the abolition of racism. The fonds consists of correspondence, reports, notes, speeches, minutes, press releases, clippings and printed material arising from Shearer's career as social activist, planner, and teacher (1975-1988). Records include much material relating to the Solidarity Coalition, human rights, and the Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of British Columbia.


Rosemary Baxter spent her formative years in Priddis, Alberta, during which time she was a lay minister and pastoral care worker for the Catholic Archdiocese of Calgary. In 1989, her family moved to Salt Spring Island, B.C. From roughly 1985 onward, she was active in promoting gay and lesbian rights, particularly in advocating for amendments to provincial and federal legislation to protect sexual orientation rights. She was president of Dignity Canada for one year and was also active in lobbying the Catholic Church in Canada to recognize gay and lesbian rights. The fonds consists of records Baxter created and received in the course of activities promoting sexual orientation rights in Canada between 1980-1990, such as correspondence, press clippings, and reports.


Yvonne Schmitz was a correspondent and personal friend of Claire Culhane, a prison reform advocate. Her fonds consists of letters, clippings, and other documentation sent from Culhane to Schmitz between 1979 and 1996, when Culhane passed away. The subject matter pertains mainly to issues of prisoner's rights, but also touches upon personal matters.

Peace Activists

Lille d'Easum was born in 1899 and went on to become an executive member of the B.C. Voice of Women and the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament (CCNR), as well as a freelance writer and activist. During the 1960s and 1970s, she was active in the anti-nuclear movement, especially in the CCNR.  The fonds consists of records relating to d'Easum's activities between 1969-1980, particularly her work as Executive Secretary for the B.C. branch of the CCNR, and contains information about nuclear power plants, uranium mining, nuclear terrorism, disarmament, and the international peace movement.


Mildred Fahrni (nee Osterhout) was born in rural Manitoba in 1900. She studied at the University of British Columbia, earning a bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy as well as a master’s degree in Philosophy. Post-graduation, she worked for both the YMCA and the Canadian Memorial Church (CMC) in Vancouver as a secretary. Between 1930 and 1939, Fahrni continued her education at Bryn Mawr College’s Department of Social Economy and Social Research in Pennsylvania, and traveled extensively abroad, visiting Russia, India, and Japan. In 1939, she obtained a teaching position at Carleton Elementary School in Vancouver. In 1947, Mildred was elected head of the local branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. She was active as a public speaker, often addressing issues of war, poverty, non-violence, and social change. In 1970, she devoted herself to Servas, an international organization that promoted peace through travel and home stays. She was eventually awarded the Vancouver peace award in 1991, before passing away in 1992.

The fonds contains records related to her involvement with various organizations, including the Kerala Balagram School and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, as well as her activities as a lecturer at various conferences and institutions. The majority of these records are arranged into subject, or research files, and represent Fahrni’s active involvement with a variety of human rights issues and social justice organizations.


The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) was founded in 1915 at The Hague by women active in the European and American suffrage movements who wished to end the WWI and to ensure that no further wars occurred. The League began its work in Canada in 1920 in Vancouver, led by Dorothy Steeves and Laura Jamieson. The League's work has been to promote peace education and to campaign for disarmament and anti-militarism. During WWII, it opposed the introduction of military cadet training in schools and it has investigated textbooks which glorify war. In 2001, the Vancouver branch joined with the Toronto branch to start a Canadian section. The fonds consists of correspondence, much of it by or addressed to Sheila Young, concerning various international issues. Accruals added in later years contain printed materials, minutes, operational records, ephemera, and video recordings.

Women's Rights Activists

The B.C. Federation of Women is an umbrella group for women's organizations in B.C. Its goal is to organize province-wide action on women's issues, and it is particularly concerned with health, childcare, education, and employment. The fonds consists primarily of printed material from 1977-1980 relating to the Federation's decision to become a non-profit organization. Included are guidelines for society incorporation, surveys given to Federation members to ascertain their opinions about becoming a non-profit organization, and literature on non-profit societies. Further material transferred in 2014 from the City of Vancouver Archives consists of surveys sent to various women's organizations asking their views on feminism, in preparation for the “Day of Feminism.”


Established in 1960, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW) is a non-partisan Non-Governmental Organization comprised of a network of diverse women with consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. VOW works to provide women the opportunity to appeal to national governments and international diplomats, attend conferences like the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and to write and present briefs and statements to political heads of state and nations worldwide on women and peace issues. They respond to calls for guidance and research on peace and women’s issues locally, nationally, and internationally. The fonds consists of the records of the B.C. chapter of VOW (1960-1978) and local chapters (Powell River, Vancouver, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver branches). It includes subject files, correspondence, minutes, scrapbooks, newsletters, conference proceedings, press clippings, president's papers, and financial reports reflecting the organization's involvement with disarmament, human rights issues, ecology, and politics.


Mary Bishop was born in 1913 and eventually became recognized as one of B.C.’s  major advocates for planned parenthood. She competed a M.A. thesis entitled, “From 'Left' to 'Right': A perspective on the role of family planning in the West and in South Asia” (UBC, 1971). The fonds consists of materials created and assembled between ca. 1960-1988, such as subject files, reports, and printed material concerning social and political issues in B.C. related to families, the law and fertility, violence against women, and children in society.


The Council of Women concept originated at the Women's Congress held at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. There, women from thirty nations decided to form an International Council of Women to promote "the welfare of mankind, the family and individual" and "to work for removal of disabilities of women". The formation of a Canadian Council quickly followed, and in 1894, seventeen women in Vancouver organized a local chapter. Over the years, the Vancouver Council of Women has addressed issues affecting women and has lobbied governments on matters relating to education, housing, public health and recreation. The fonds consists of correspondence, minutes, scrapbooks, subject files, reports, briefs, lists, printed material (including annual reports) and photographs pertaining to the activities of the Vancouver Council and of the Provincial and National Councils of Women. 


Vancouver Status of Women (VSW) was formed in 1971 in response to the Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women set up by Prime Minister Lester Pearson in 1967. VSW’s goals were to ensure that the recommendations of the Royal Commission were implemented, foster public knowledge of women’s issues, and facilitate communication amongst individuals and groups concerned with the status of women. 

The fonds consists of records related to VSW’s administrative activities, projects, and lobbying endeavours, as well as research and reference resources. Although the nature of VSW’s activities has changed over time, the organization has consistently maintained a commitment to addressing social issues related to women, including gender discrimination, pay equity, familial violence, and many more topics. VSW has addressed these issues through a variety of avenues, including publications, press releases, lobbying of governments, a television program, workshops, and services for individuals in Vancouver.


The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) is a world-wide Christian lay organization open to girls and women. It was founded in England in 1855 and the first Canadian branch was formed in St. John, New Brunswick in 1870. The Vancouver YWCA was organized in 1897. It offers such services as women's study courses and craft classes as well as operating a hostel for young men and women. The fonds consists of minutes, reports, correspondence, lists, clippings, scrapbooks, and printed material relating to the works of the YWCA in Vancouver.