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Importance of Women's Records

Every day, women create letters, journals, photographs, emails, videotapes and other records that document their lives. As they accumulate over time, these records provide insight into a woman’s unique perspective and experiences. These records tell an important story, one that can inform and inspire others in untold ways.

One way to preserve these important life experiences for others is to donate the records to archives. Archival repositories need records created by women so future researchers have an inclusive, more complete understanding of society. If the records are preserved and available at an archival institution, they will not be lost, destroyed or forgotten.

But it’s not just about pioneer women of the distant past. Even documents created by people or organizations within the past twenty years contain valuable information about women’s changing role in society. Archivists especially prize those records created by women of aboriginal or multicultural backgrounds, because archival institutions rarely receive this material. Whether it is the minutes and files of a small organization of community activists or the photographs and personal correspondence of suburban wife and mother, all these sources are valuable additions to the holdings of archival institutions.

According to the Alberta on Record database, a small sample of records held by archival institutions that were created by women and women’s organizations could include:

  • Anna Condie: Piano teacher, wife and mother in Wetaskiwin (City of Wetaskiwin Archives)
  • Abbie Scott: Basketball player with the Edmonton Grads (Edmonton Public Schools Archives and Museum)
  • Shirley Stinson: Nationally-recognized nursing educator (The College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta)
  • Imperial Order, Daughters of the Empire, Alberta Provincial Chapter: Provincial chapter of a Canadian women’s organization (Provincial Archives of Alberta)
  • Desk and Derrick Club of Calgary: Association for women working in the petroleum industry (Glenbow Archives)
  • Alberta Network of Immigrant Women: Provincial association providing support and sponsorship for immigrant women’s programs since 1986 (Glenbow Archives)

While wide-ranging, these contributions to the history of women can only tell part of the story. Without the records of other individuals and organizations, the documentary heritage of women will be incomplete.

If you don’t know what to do with your own records, family papers, or the files of an organization to which you belong, contact your local archival institution about donating your records. If you are unsure how to contact one, contact Michael Gourlie, Archives Advisor for the Archives Society of Alberta, at

Student & Academic Services for The Alberta Women's Memory Project - Last Updated June 30, 2016

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