Fonds PR-1124 - Provincial Council of Women of British Columbia fonds

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Provincial Council of Women of British Columbia fonds

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  • textual record
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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the fonds.

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  • 1894 - 2005 (Creation)
    Provincial Council of Women of British Columbia

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Physical description

5.2 m of textual records, 330 photographs

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Archival description area

Name of creator

(1921 -)

Administrative history

The Provincial Council of Women of British Columbia is an advocacy group founded in Vancouver on May 20, 1921 by representatives from the Vancouver, Nanaimo and New Westminster local councils of women.

Its structure is that of a federation of local councils and member societies. The Provincial Council was founded as a branch of the National Council of Women of Canada, which was formed in 1893, and incorporated by Act of Parliament in June, 1914. From its beginning, the National Council was affiliated with the International Council of Women (ICW), which was founded in Washington D.C. in 1888.

The organization at all levels states that it is a non-sectarian and non-partisan movement, with the goal of advancing the causes of women. Its concerns have included women’s suffrage, immigration, health care, education, the role of mass media, and protection of the environment.

The Provincial Council is responsible for lobbying the government of British Columbia, while the National Council lobbies the federal government. Similarly, local councils approach municipal governments in their districts.

The Council fulfills its mandate through research, often conducted by committees; the formation of resolutions, reports, and briefs, many of which are subsequently presented to members of British Columbia’s provincial government; conferences, often held on an annual basis; and outreach to new local councils or provincial organizations with related goals.

The Provincial Council typically features honorary officers—in many instances, the wives of provincial dignitaries, such as the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia or the Premier—elected officers serving one-year terms, including a president, vice president, corresponding secretary, recording secretary, and treasurer; a committee of officers, which comprises elected officers and the immediate past president; an elected chairman of standing study committees; standing study committees dedicated to researching and creating interest in matters of special concern; and special committees, which assist in carrying out aspects of Council business such as finance, publicity, and extension. Committees play a key role in creating resolutions, which are the primary mechanism by which the Council makes its decisions on policy and actions to be taken.

In 1946, National Council updated its incorporation act, and in 1968, it adopted a common constitution that all provincial councils were bound by. The Provincial Council remains responsible for maintaining its own by-laws and standing rules. The Provincial Council continues to be active as of August 2016.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of the records of the Provincial Council of Women of British Columbia, which document the interests and activities of one of Canada’s oldest advocacy groups and largest women’s organizations. Records date back to the first local groups formed by women in British Columbia in the 1890s.

The records document the council’s core function: its development of policy through research and the creation of submissions and resolutions for advocacy at all levels of government.

The records were created by elected officers, including the president, vice president, corresponding secretary, recording secretary, treasurer and immediate past president. Records were also created by members of committees, including standing study committees dedicated to researching subject areas. The materials reflect the organization’s activities under this committee structure. For example, at one point (ca. 1950 to 1960) committees included: Arts and Letters, Economics, Laws, Extension, Education, Health, Home Economics, Immigration/Migration, and the Thrift campaign.

The fonds consists of meeting agendas and minutes; correspondence; issue files kept for reference; research reports; resolutions; briefs and submissions to government; annual reports; yearbooks; newsletters and journals; transactions of and reports from annual conferences; conference and other event programs; records related to the organization’s constitution and by-laws; ephemera such as leaflets and magazine and news clippings; scrapbooks; financial records; directories (regarding executives and members); photographs (primarily of participants at meetings and conferences); and published books, presumably held in an office library or personal libraries.

Due to the Provincial Council’s organization and structure, the fonds contains materials from associated organizations and “higher” (national and international) levels of the Council of Women. Records were created by or relate to affiliated groups, which include, for example: the Elizabeth Fry Society, the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, the Women's Auxiliary to the Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada, the Progressive Conservative Women’s Association of British Columbia, Native Indian Service Council, and Business and Professional Women’s Clubs.

Some of the records were originally printed or published by the National Council of Women of Canada in Ottawa. This includes the National Council’s yearbooks (containing its annual reporting), in a nearly-complete set from 1939 through 1994.

Since members of the Provincial Council were often members of both that provincial body and their local group, records in the fonds include, for example, those of local groups such as the White Rock & District Council of Women and the University Women’s Club of White Rock.

The records were donated to BC Archives between 1974 and 2016 in five separate accessions. There was no consistency in the original order in which they came to BC Archives and the council did not have a classification system for its records. As a result, BC Archives created an arrangement structure, assigning records to the following series:

MS-3294 - General office files
MS-3295 - Minutes
MS-3296 - Scrapbooks
MS-3297 - Annual reports and directories
MS-3298 - National Council yearbooks and newsletters
MS-3299 - Publications and ephemera

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Records were acquired through donations from members of the Provincial Council of Women of BC as follows: Accession 74A-128 (in 1974); Accession 83-110 (in 1983); Accession 92-2002 (in 1993); Accession 94-1431 (in 2003). Records in accession 2016.77 were originally held in storage for the Provincial Council of Women of BC by the New Westminster library. In 2005, the stored records were moved from that library to the New Westminster Museum and Archives. In 2016, Barbara Hall of the Provincial Council of Women of BC and Barry Dykes of the New Westminster Museum and Archives transferred and donated those records to BC Archives.


Accession 74A-128 was originally described as MS-1961. This MS was cancelled in 2016 when all accessions were re-described.

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Restrictions on access

There are no restrictions on access.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Consult BC Archives staff regarding use, reproduction and publication. Copyright for select materials may be held by third parties represented in the collection. Approval from these third parties may be necessary to make reproductions.

Finding aids

File lists for each series are available.

Associated materials

Provincial Council of Women of British Columbia records and the Mary Sanford fonds are held by the White Rock Museum and Archives, White Rock, BC.
Local council records are held at other institutions. These include Vancouver Council of Women fonds at the University of British Columbia, Rare Books and Special Collections; and, Kamloops Council of Women fonds at Kamloops Museums and Archives.
Records of the National Council of Women of Canada are held at Library and Archives Canada.

Related materials


Further accruals are expected.

General note

Accession number(s): 74A-128; 83-110; 94-1431; 92-2002; 2016.77; 198410-007

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