Archives and Special Collections

Images from the Women's Archives

Women's Archives and Special Collections

Archival collections

The Women’s Archives contains more than 170 archival fonds and collections related to the history of women in Canada, with particular emphasis on the feminist movement since the 1960s.

Finding aids for the Women's Archives collection are available in the AtoM database, which can be accessed via this guide or on our website.  

Some finding aids are currently only available in PDF form.  These can be accessed from this page (see below). 

If you are not sure which finding aid to consult, you can consult our thematic guides which list relevant fonds and other material based on subject matter.  

Special collections 

The Feminist Periodicals and Publications Collection is the largest collection of feminist publications in Canada, comprising of periodicals and newsletters produced by feminist groups and associations across Canada, as well as a selection of monographs. It currently stands at just over 1400 titles and includes national publications like Branching Out and Broadside, as well as newsletters from smaller groups like Open Door, and Rural Lesbian Newsletter of British Columbia, etc. These publications represent women from diverse regions of the country, and cover social action in all its forms, and include subjects such as women’s health, the right to abortion, child-care services, as well as literature, art, culture, and assistance for immigrants. 

The coverage of the periodicals varies from several years of issues to other times just one or two issues.

Periodicals can be accessed via the library catalogue or ask an archivist for the complete list of ARCS holdings. 

History of the CWMA

The Canadian Women’s Movement Archives Collection (10-001) and the Canadian Women’s Movement Archives fonds (10-002) were acquired by the University of Ottawa in 1992 and this marked the beginning of an extensive body of archival material which continues to grow.

The Women’s Information Centre, led by Pat Leslie the former editor of The Other Woman, was established in 1977 by a group of women who wanted to collect information about feminist activities across Canada. The group sent letters to women’s organizations and individuals requesting copies of their publications and other documents, emphasizing the importance of preserving the memory of the women’s movement. As a result, various groups sent their newsletters, reports, posters, t-shirts, banners, buttons, and other records. The Canadian Women's Movement Archives was officially established in Toronto in 1982.

In 1992, all the material collected by the Canadian Women's Movement Archives was donated to the Archives and Special Collections of the University of Ottawa and can now be found under the Canadian Women's Movement Archives Collection (10-001) as part of our Women's Archives collection.

Thematic Guides

These guides index approximately 2,000 women’s groups and events that are documented in the Canadian Women’s Movement Archives Collection (10-001). They also cross-reference other fonds relating to each particular theme.