Fonds PR-2328 - Rosemary Brown fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Rosemary Brown fonds

General material designation

  • textual record

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

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

Level of description


Reference code


Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1969-1986; predominant 1977-1986 (Creation)
    Brown, Rosemary (Wedderburn), 1930-

Physical description area

Physical description

12 m of textual records

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Social Worker, MLA, Feminist - Rosemary Brown née Wedderburn was born June 17, 1930 in Kingston Jamaica. She moved to Canada in 1951 to attend McGill University where she studied Women's Studies. She completed her degree in 1955 and moved to British Columbia. In 1965 she completed a Master's degree in Social Work at the University of British Columbia. During her graduate studies she met and married Dr. William Brown. Following graduation she took a job in her field as counselor at Simon Fraser University. In 1973 Rosemary Brown became one of the founders of the Vancouver Status of Women Council, an organization formed to promote women's full social and economic participation in their local communities. Later she would become its Ombudswoman. Fulfilling the organization's mission, she was elected to the British Columbia Legislature in 1972. She was the first woman of African descent to win a seat in a provincial legislature when she was elected in the riding of Vancouver-Burrard; she accomplished this as a mother of three. She served in the Legislature from 1972 to 1986. With the support of the NDP Women's Committee in 1974 Brown ran for the leadership of the federal NDP party. She lost to Ed Broadbent by four ballots. She was the first woman to campaign for the leadership of any national party in Canada. Party historians assert her candidacy changed the party. Brown formerly retired from provincial politics in 1986. In her first post-political job she took a position as the Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Professor at Simon Fraser University in Women's Studies. Two years later Brown took a position as CEO for Match International, a development agency with a mandate to focus on women's issues. She remained CEO for three years. She maintained her affiliation with that organization as its Special Ambassador and then as its President. From Match International Brown moved on to be Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission serving from 1993 to 1996. Rosemary Brown received a number of awards over her career. She received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Toronto, Victoria, and Dalhousie. She also received the Order of British Columbia in 1995. Rosemary Brown died on April 26, 2003.

Custodial history

Accession 86-174 was received from Stella Lord of the NDP caucus office at the BC Legislature on Nov. 10, 1986. Accession 87-111 was physically transferred in December 1986 from NDP caucus. The donors are not known for accession 86-154 (received Nov. 5, 1986) or accession 86-149 (received Nov. 1986), but it is presumed the source was also the NDP caucus office.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of the records of Rosemary Brown, and were created in her capacity as a member of the British Columbia legislative assembly (MLA), and as a member of the New Democratic Party. A large number of the records reflect Rosemary Brown’s activities on legislative committees and her caucus critic responsibilities.

The records, in smaller numbers, were also created in her capacity as a public speaker, columnist, and university instructor, activities which were not directly related to her job as MLA, but which were carried on at the same time she was an MLA. The fonds also consists of a relatively small number of personal records which were intermingled with records relating to her MLA work.

The records were created by Rosemary Brown at the B.C. legislature, although whether they were created by her, immediate staff, or caucus research staff, is not always clear. Records were also presumably created in Brown’s constituency office.

Records reflect events in the two constituencies she served, although most reflect the time period after she left Vancouver-Burrard to serve as MLA for Burnaby-Edmonds, from 1979 to 1986. Although the majority of her correspondence was with people in the greater Vancouver area, the geographic scope of the records includes all of the province of British Columbia as she was concerned with province-wide issues, and also received letters from citizens throughout the province. In addition to concerning B.C. affairs there are reports and letters from outside B.C. and concerning issues of national and international relevance.

The records date predominantly from 1977 to 1986.There are virtually no records from the periods of Brown’s life prior to becoming an MLA in 1972 or after her retirement from B.C. politics in 1986. There are almost no records from her first years as MLA, from 1972 to 1975, when she was on the government side of the house.

The subject matter of the files includes all aspects of British Columbia politics and public policy. However there is a particular emphasis on records related to the subjects of her caucus critic responsibilities and legislative committees, and areas of her personal interest and activism. Her critic or spokesperson areas, reflected in the files, include the Human Resources ministry (and related areas of Health), feminism and the status of women, human rights and minority groups, Attorney General, and Consumer and Corporate Affairs. The files also reflect her interest in municipal affairs, education, environmental issues, labour rights, civil rights, minorities and each of these in an international context.

A large amount of the correspondence is from members of the public who expressed their opinions on political and social issues. Correspondence also includes “case work” (requests from the public for assistance with personal issues and problems). As Brown was a well-known public figure, the correspondence comes from various parts of the province and is not restricted to her constituents. There are also a significant number of records related to the policies and political activities of the New Democratic Party both in B.C. and across Canada.

The fonds consists of the following documentary forms: correspondence; memos; briefs on legislation and issues from government, organizations and non-governmental bodies; research information; copies of Hansard and government bills and budget documents; reports; newsletters; pamphlets; petitions; position papers; press releases; reports; petitions; studies; election campaign literature and voter lists.

The fonds also consists of a large amount of collected resource or reference material; these subject files include clippings, newsletters, magazines, pamphlets and photocopied articles. There are a small number of Brown’s speeches and articles written by Brown. Some records appear to have been given to Brown by research staff, with their suggestions that she use the information for her questions in the legislature or for speeches. There are also what appear to be Brown’s handwritten notes on issues.

A small number of files consist of personal correspondence (friends and acquaintances) and personal business records, (financial, real estate purchases, mortgage, MLA remuneration), and collected ephemera. These were intermingled with the records relating to her MLA work.

There are no photographs in the fonds.

The correspondence files are arranged as they were by the creator of the records, in chronological and alphabetical order.

The files were found to have no numbered classification system. They were usually well-labeled by the creator of the files, and organized by the creator according to subjects falling under the responsibility of a government ministry (i.e. the Human Resources ministry, Health, the Attorney General, and Consumer and Corporate Affairs, etc.). However, many appeared to be out of the order of their original filing system, so it was sometimes necessary for the archivist to reorganize the files to return them to this original subject arrangement, grouping files according to the subject matter as it appears in the title of the folder.

The archivist determined that distinct series could not be distinguished; the fonds therefore consists of only one series.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Language of material

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

Access to some of the records may be restricted. Please contact BC Archives’ Information and Privacy unit to determine the access status of these records.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

Associated materials

Rosemary Brown fonds. University of British Columbia Library Rare Books and Special Collections.

Related materials


No further accurals expected.

General note

Accession: 86-149; 86-154; 86-174; 87-111.

Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Control area

Description record identifier

Accession area

Related genres

Physical storage

  • Box: 907976-0722
  • Box: 907976-0723
  • Box: 907976-0724
  • Box: 907976-0725
  • Box: 907976-0726
  • Box: 907976-0727
  • Box: 907976-0728
  • Box: 907976-0729
  • Box: 907976-0730
  • Box: 907976-0731
  • Box: 907976-0732
  • Box: 907976-0733
  • Box: 907976-0733
  • Box: 907976-0734
  • Box: 907976-0735
  • Box: 907976-0736
  • Box: 907976-0737
  • Box: 907976-0738
  • Box: 907976-0739
  • Box: 907976-0740
  • Box: 907976-0741
  • Box: 907976-0742
  • Box: 907976-0743
  • Box: 907976-0744
  • Box: 907976-0745
  • Box: 907976-0746
  • Box: 907976-0747
  • Box: 907976-0748
  • Box: 907976-0749
  • Box: 907976-0750
  • Box: 907976-0751
  • Box: 907976-0752
  • Box: 907976-0753
  • Box: 907976-0754
  • Box: 907976-0755
  • Box: 907976-0756
  • Box: 907976-0757