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Lesbian and Bisexual Women in English Canada audio history collection

  • CA UVICARCH AR425
  • Collection
  • 1996 - 1998

The Lesbian and Bisexual Women in English Canada audio history collection consists of audio histories conducted for the 2001 University of Victoria Department of History doctoral dissertation The Spreading Depths: Lesbian and Bisexual Women in English Canada, 1910-1965. The Spreading Depths is the basis for Cameron Duder’s subsequent monograph Awfully Devoted Women: Lesbian Lives in Canada, 1900-65, published in 2010 by UBC Press.

The collection consists of 12 interviews (21 recordings in total as some were in multiple parts) conducted by Duder from 1996 to 1998. 27 women were interviewed for the dissertation research, and Duder also drew on interviews recorded in the 1980s for the Lesbians Making History Project. 12 of the women interviewed by Duder consented to their interviews being housed in the University of Victoria Archives. 10 of the 12 women requested to be identified by pseudonym.

Duder's dissertation, The Spreading Depths, examines lesbian and bisexual women’s formation of subjectivity in pre-1965 English Canada, a time when the terms and identities “lesbian” and “bisexual” were not widely discussed in society. Duder considers the existing historical information about the lives of women in same-sex relationships, in English Canada, before the social, political and sexual liberation movements of the 1960s. The interviews conducted by Duder provide information on what had been a neglected group in previous research on lesbian and bisexual women: the interview subjects are lesbians and bisexual women from lower-middle class and working class families. Duder argues that discourses on 19th and 20th century history of sexuality have reflected the documentation of the politically active and socially privileged, namely activist persons or organizations and women from upper middle class families whose histories were documented in public archives. Duder argues for a class-specific lesbian subjectivity in the decades before 1965, a subjectivity which does not always adhere to the forms of the “romantic friendship” and the “butch-femme relationship” which have dominated the discourse.

Duder adds a Canadian perspective to the large literature on the transition in women’s relationships from the romantic friendship to the modern lesbian. The Spreading Depths reveals that before the Second World War, women in same-sex relationships were influenced by the language of sexology. Their relationships were also much more explicitly sexual than were those of earlier generations of lesbians. Duder suggests, however, that we should not assume great expansion in the discussion of sexuality, because well into the 1950s and 1960s Canadians lacked information about sexual desire and sexual practice. The interview testimonies complicate the picture we have of women in the mid-twentieth century being much more sexually aware than women of previous generations.

The interviews reveal that lesbians and bisexual women shared heterosexual women’s longing for intimate relationships, their joy at finding a partner, and their pleasure in coming to an awareness of sexuality, but they also reveal that same-sex relationships held the same risks of infidelity, domestic violence, and alcohol abuse as existed for heterosexual women. Relationships with family were also mixed. Duder posits that because of the lack of public discussion around women’s sexual subjectivity, and therefore a lack of terminology that could be used to define and reject women living outside the heterosexual norm, women in same-sex relationships during the period under study may have had somewhat better relationships with their families than lesbians after 1965. Finally, The Spreading Depths discusses the Canadian lesbian community of the 1950s and the 1960s and contrasts the social world of lower-middle-class lesbians with the public bar culture of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The interview testimonies reveal the views held by these women towards the bar scene and the women who regularly socialized in the bars. The interviewees describe alternative ways they found to socialize with one another so as to avoid exposure.

Initially, the project intended to include heterosexual women as a part of its analysis of women in English Canada. Duder sought interviewees through advertisements in regular media and lesbian and feminist media, and consequently the text of these advertisements differed: for regular media, women 55 and older, who lived in British Columbia or Ontario for a minimum of 5 years between 1910 and 1955, were sought to speak about personal relationships and social life, all types of friendships, romantic relationships, courting and marriage; advertisements in lesbian and feminist media sought lesbian/gay and bisexual women 55 and older, who lived in British Columbia or Ontario for a minimum of 5 years between 1910 and 1955, willing to speak about personal relationships and social life, and the lives of lesbian and bisexual women. The dissertation was later narrowed to consider lesbian and bisexual women only.

Interviewees were offered use of pseudonyms, given the option of an audio recording of the interview or written notation only, and for those selecting the audio recording, the choices of destruction, preservation of the recording in an archives, or preservation of a transcript. Regarding access restrictions, participants choosing preservation of the recordings could select: no restriction, access with written consent, access after death of the participant, closure until a specified date, or other specifically stated restrictions.

The interviews were preceded by an informal meeting where Duder and the interviewee discussed the research and interview proposal. The guiding interview questions were organized into the following categories and general subjects (summarized from Appendix B of The Spreading Depths). Not all questions were asked of all interviewees:
Biographical background – of the interviewee and immediate family members, including birthplaces, nationalities, places lived, education and occupations;
Childhood – enjoyed or not enjoyed; feelings towards parents and siblings; family strictures; church attendance; playmates and racial characteristics of neighbourhood; school experiences; adolescence; reading habits; clothing worn; drinking and smoking habits; and special friendships;
Socializing and sexual knowledge – extent and location of socializing; types of socializing; friends and acquaintances; frequenting of clubs or bars; any secretiveness concerning activities and location; extent and source of knowledge of human anatomy, sex, pregnancy, masturbation, and same sex relations; awareness of and interaction with homosexual women or men;
Personal sexuality – sexual preference; words used to describe preference; early physical and emotional attractions; feelings associated with attraction; extent of intimate relationships; perceptions of mixed race relationships.

Additional questions were available to guide further discussion of relationships and sexuality. The following is a sample from these questions (excerpted Appendix B of The Spreading Depths). Questions may not have been required depending on the course of interview:

  • How would you describe the way you felt about sex in those relationships?
  • Were there any occasions where one of you wanted to do something different and the other refused? How did you feel about that?
  • Did you know from the beginning what you would like and dislike or was that something you learned about yourself over time?
  • Is there anything else that you would like to tell me about your sexual relationships?

Richmond Women's Resource Centre fonds

  • Fonds
  • 1976-2013

Fonds consists of minutes, agenda, publications, newsletters, reports and studies, correspondence, consitution and bylaws, ephemera, and photographs of the Richmond Women's Resource Centre.

Richmond Women's Resource Centre

Nanaimo Council of Women fonds

  • Fonds
  • 1944-1979

The fonds consists of minutes, correspondence, annual reports, and scrapbooks and other reference material.

Nanaimo Council of Women

Soroptimist Club of Nanaimo fonds

  • Fonds
  • 1946-1973

Fonds consists of records that document the activities, governance and functions of the club. These include scrapbooks, bank records, correspondence, photographs, bylaws, educational material, Christmas pudding recipes, ceremony instructions, committee reports, membership records and clippings. Although minutes are referred to in these records, their location is unknown. Fonds arranged in seven series: 1) Constitution and bylaws; 2) Club administration records; 3) Financial records; 4) Correspondence; 5) Projects; 6) Photographs and 7) Ephemera.

Soroptimist Club of Nanaimo

Order of the Eastern Star Cypress Chapter No. 92 fonds

  • CA KSM MG30
  • Fonds
  • 1941-1991, predominant 1959-1991

The fonds consists of documents and photographs concerning the formation and business of the Order of the Eastern Star Chapter No. 92. The fonds consists of 3 series containing photo albums, history and a Bible.

Order of the Eastern Star. Cypress Chapter No. 92 (Lake Cowichan, B.C.)

Praxis-Nexus Conference fonds

  • CA UVICARCH AR153
  • Fonds
  • 1993-1996

The fonds consists of abstracts of presentations, minutes, budget and funding, correspondence, posters, programme and 2 videocassettes of presentations.

Praxis-Nexus Conference (1996 : University of Victoria, B.C.)

Prime Time fonds

  • CA UVICARCH AR107
  • Fonds
  • 1978-1980

The fonds consists of newsletters, an impact survey, resources and services bibliography, a conference package, and a "Prime Time Information Kit."

Prime Time (Project)

Prince Rupert Book Club fonds

  • Fonds
  • 1930-1989

The fonds consists of constitution and bylaws, minutes, membership lists, correspondence, programs, financial records, and reference material of the Prince Rupert Book Club from 1930- 2001.

Book Club (Prince Rupert, BC)

Shani Mootoo fonds

  • CA SFL MsC 76
  • Fonds
  • ca. 1970-2005

The fonds reflects Mootoo's work as a writer and artist. It contains printed typescripts of published works with drafts and related working papers, published reviews, drafts of unpublished works, lecture notes, professional correspondence, notebooks and sketchbooks, video productions in VHS format, audio materials and works of visual art.

The fonds has been arranged into 8 series: Literary works (76.1-76.6), Correspondence (76.7), Interviews (76.8) Book reviews and announcements (76.9), Notebooks and early writings (76.10), Artistic works (76.11-76.13), Photographs (76.14) and Ephemera (76.15). Some of the series are further subdivided into sub-series.

Mootoo, Shani, 1957-

Margaret Newton fonds

  • CA UVICARCH AR271
  • Fonds
  • 1929-1949

The fonds consists of correspondence with international plant pathologists regarding scientific studies, publications, and requests for seeds. Also includes several brief biographies of Newton; a submission by Newton to her student newspaper at the University of Minnesota in 1933; and the Flavell Medal awarded to Newton by the Royal Society of Canada in 1948.

Newton, Margaret

Mary Wallace Hamilton fonds

  • CA UVICARCH AR064
  • Fonds
  • 1904-1942

The fonds consists of the following series: academic diplomas, 1907-1914; personal correspondence from Hamilton to her family during a trip to Europe, 1921-1922; and photographs of her European travels; other photographs documenting Hamilton's time at Victoria College, 1909-1950.

Hamilton, Mary Wallace

Maureen Bray Hibberson fonds

  • CA UVICARCH AR068
  • Fonds
  • 1957-1962

The fonds consists of Hibberson's copies of Athletics Committee minutes, 1960-1962; College of Education Building Committee minutes, 11 October 1962; Campus Planning Committee minutes, 26 November 1962; correspondence primarily regarding athletics, 1957-1959; and a course outline for Education 102, "Principles of Teaching."

Hibberson, Maureen Bray

Mission Women's Institute fonds

  • CA MCA 1998 25
  • Fonds
  • 1948-1998, predominant 1957-1995

Fonds consists of minutes of meetings, correspondence, financial records, membership records, annual reports, awards, photographs, scrapbooks, guest book, newspaper articles, historical vignettes from 1910 to 1990, memorabilia, cookbook and MWI pins and stamp. Includes two hard books on Women's Institute history.

Mission Women's Institute

Mona Morley fonds

  • CA UVICARCH AR095
  • Fonds
  • 1931-1994

The fonds consists of diaries and correspondence. The diaries (personal diaries, travel diaries, "Novice Ruth" diaries) provide an extensive record of her personal reflections on her activities and views from 1931-1950, after which time they become less comprehensive. The correspondence includes some inward correspondence, and transcribed copies of outward correspondence from 1949-1955.

Morley, Mona

Ida Madeline Gunterman fonds

  • CA VPL 16762-16773
  • Fonds
  • [ca. 1890-1910]

The fonds consists of photographs of the Lardeau area of B.C. including portraits and images depicting scenery and pioneer life.

Gunterman, Ida Madeline

Hopeline District Women's Institute fonds

  • Fonds
  • 1940-1998

Fonds consists of records created by the Hopeline District Womens Institute including minutes of meetings for the Hopeline District Womens Institute and earlier coalitions 1953-1997, cash books for 1960-1998, 1992-1997 conference registration information, 11972-1985 membership lists, 1987 declaration of Womens Institute Week by the Hopeline District Womens Institute, slides, 2 audio cassettes containing interviews done in 1985 with Stella Welch, and the 1964 constitution and certificate of incorporation. There are materials related to the Womens Institute Heritage Club such as a 1941-1942 scrapbook entitled Womens Institute scrapbook vol. III, a Womens Institute Heritage Club scrapbook/album 1963-1987, and essays and newspaper clippings 1940-1960 detailing the history of the Institute, particularly in the Fraser valley area. There are minutes of meetings of the Douglas District Womens Institute 1984-1997 along with a roll call for Douglas District 1954-1986, and cash books for the Douglas District 1953-1976 and1986-1998. There is also a minute book, 1931-1932, from the Coghlau Womens Institute.

Hopeline District Women's Institute

Matilda C. de Lotbiniere Harwood fonds

  • CA FTST MS 54
  • Fonds
  • 1914, 1918, 1920-1921

Fonds consists of the textual records of Matilda C. de Lotbiniere-Harwood from 1914, 1918, and 1920-1921. Includes biography, correspondence, clippings, and sheet music of the following: From the Empire’s Dead, Triumphal March of the Allies, Imperial Anthem, Strathcona March, and Johnny Canuck.

de Lotbiniere Harwood, Matilda C.

Debby Yaffe interview / Women's Studies collection

  • CA UVICARCH AR430
  • Item
  • 2009

Item consists of sound recordings of Debby Yaffe discussing her childhood, schooling and family life in California, including gendered family roles, expectations of femininity in the 1950s, university, marriage and life in Europe, her feminist consciousness raising experience in London, teaching high school in London, the differences between English and American societies, sex discrimination, radical feminist activities, restructuring of sexual relationships, life in Canada and involvement in the Women’s movement in Victoria, Status of Women Action group, Everywomens Books, disordered eating as feminist issue, work as a fitness instructor, abortion rights, impact on feminist awareness of the December 6, 1989 killings at École Polytechnique in Montréal, radical feminism, women’s lives in Canada and England, life as a lesbian, resisting dominant domestic relationship constructs, teaching Women’s Studies, feminist theory, and the Victoria Women’s Movement Archives.

The Debby Yaffe interview was conducted by Joy Fisher as a research project in the course History 358A, “Women in Canada,” taught by Dr. Lynne Marks, which covered histories of women in Canada from the era of New France to the present. Fisher’s resulting essay is entitled “Riding the Wave/ Watching the Wave: A Second Wave Feminist Talks about Gender Ideologies and her Life.”

Yaffe, Debby

Victoria Rape/Assault Centre fonds

  • CA UVICARCH AR189
  • Fonds
  • 1977 - 1982

The fonds consists of minutes, a small pamphlet collection, the booklet Rape, several copies of a lesbian newsletter, Rag, and miscellaneous material.

Victoria Rape/Assault Centre

Women for Women in Afghanistan fonds

  • CA UVICARCH AR348
  • Fonds
  • 1999-2000

The fonds consists of educational reports, photographs, and a program for a dinner held March 9, 2000 in conjunction with the Status of Women Action Group.

Women for Women in Afghanistan. Victoria Branch

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