Women’s Studies Subject Classifications



Activists/Activism – see Social History/Reform


Academic writings and research materials; including journal articles, books and unpublished manuscripts with relevance to Women’s Studies. Items identified here will also be cross-listed in any other relevant classification(s): ex. Fine Arts, Health, Sex/Sexuality, etc.

Discrimination – see Social History/Reform


Material relevant to teaching, pedagogy and women; ranging from course outlines, lecture notes and student papers dealing with women’s issues, to material dealing with feminist pedagogy, issues of education and women (pre-school to graduate school).Also includes materials related to women as educators. Some material cross-listed with other related clasification(s), for example, Academic.

Environments and ecologies – see Science/Technology

Feminist Publications and Publishing

Records pertaining to feminist publications (for example, the Canadian Woman Studies/les Cahiers de la Femme journal and Tessera), publishing and bookstores. These materials can include scholarly journals, popular press, newsletters and ephemera.

Fine, Creative and Performing Arts

Material relating to women in the Fine, Creative and Performing arts; ranging from visual and graphic culture (television, film, photos, playbills, etc.) to biographical information, correspondence, scores, reviews, scripts, documentation and completed works of art.

First Nations Women

Material relating to the history, roles, identity, experience and issues of First Nations women in Canada, including Metis, Inuit and non-Status women; including correspondence, art, interviews, documentaries, research materials and government and band/tribal council documents. Material often cross-listed to other relevant categories.

Gender Issues

Material relating to issues around gender identities and sexual orientations. Material here often overlaps with Sex/Sexuality, but this classification as used in this thematic guide deals with women only and includes any documents relating to queer theory and transgender issues, and masculinities; including academic articles, personal writings, works of art and research materials.


Documents relating to issues of women’s physical, emotional and psychological health at various ages and stages; including articles, literature, correspondence, government policies and programmes. Many documents are cross-listed such as abortion, aging, disability (Law/Public Policy, Government/Politics, Science/Technology, Social History/Reform), childbirth/care (Mothers/Mothering/Family).

(Women’s) History

Documents relating to the history of women and women in history and feminist history; ranging from academic articles to historic documents and photographs, especially relating to women and women’s accomplishments up to and including the First Wave Feminism. Personal correspondence from this period, which often includes descriptive accounts of the nature of women’s lives in the past, is also cross-listed here.

Immigrant Women

Material relating to the experience of immigrant women and the policies and programmes that affect them. Due to the nature of the collections these are dealing entirely with the immigration experience in Canada; includes personal, governmental and organizational correspondence, policy and programme documents, photographs, diaries, art and literature. Documents are often cross-listed to other relevant categories.


Journalistic writings and research materials, especially those by, or of significance, to Canadian women; including articles, investigative reporting, books and unpublished manuscripts with relevance to Women’s Studies. Items identified here are also cross-listed in any other relevant classification(s): ex. Politics/Government, Health, War/Military, etc.

Labour and Labour History

Material relating to women’s roles in the paid and unpaid workforce and the labour movement; including articles, research materials, union and government documents. Material often cross-listed with History, and Social History/Reform and other categories.

Law/Public Policy

Documents relating to (predominantly) Canadian policy and practice on issues of concern to women and women’s rights, roles and well-being; including policy papers, reviews, court and legal documents and material relating to the impact of these laws and policies on women and on their social welfare. Subjects are cross-listed to other classifications: ex. abortion (Health, Government/Politics, Science/Technology, Social History/Reform), prostitution (Sex/Sexuality), employment (Labour History).

Life Writing

Material written by women about their lives and experiences as women; including autobiographies, journals, diaries and correspondence. Correspondence included here is predominantly personal correspondence. Other correspondence (business, academic, etc.) may supplement these writings by providing context, however, these secondary forms of correspondence are not included in this classification without the presence of primary forms of life writing as listed above.


Women’s poetry, prose and (auto)biographical writing; including published and unpublished manuscripts, drafts and reviews. Included are the archival collections of men whose work pertains to women’s literature.


Material relating to reproduction and to the social, practical and emotional roles of mothers, mothering and the nature of the family in (Canadian) society; ranging from correspondence, and public policy to art and literature.Material is often cross-listed to other categories.

Philanthropy – see Social History/Reform


Materials relating to government and political process in Canada in relation to women and women’s participation in Canadian society and in government. While some material is cross-listed with Law/Public Policy, this classification also includes documents relating to the political lives and careers of women and electoral/campaign platforms addressing issues of concern to women constituents; including electoral and political party documents, policy papers and political and governmental correspondence.


Materials relating to iisues of race and ethnicity, as they intersect with feminist issues and activities – see Social History/Reform


Materials relating to refugees and the refugee experience, particularly as it pertains to women either as refugees or as activists trying to assist them – see also War/Military


Materials relating to women’s relationships with religion and spirituality, and the impact of, or negotiation with, religious and spiritual issues including the accounts of nuns, women priests, and secular women of various religions/belief systems through art, literature, personal and academic writings.


Documentation relating to the impact and role of science and technology in women’s lives and the involvement of women in scientific research and education; including CAWIS, governmental and research files.


Materials relating to women, sex and sexuality; including “Sex Ed.”, women’s sexual practices, sex lives and sexuality addressed individually and collectively in art, literature, personal and academic writing. This classification includes works which deal with sex and sexuality in general, and resultantly often have a heterosexual bias and include discussions of male sex and sexuality. Some material cross-listed with Gender Issues.

Social History/Reform

Materials relating to women’s involvement as activists in social reform and its history, at various local, national and international levels. Included are those areas which have been labelled “women’s issues” such as violence against women, and also areas such as discrimination and philanthropy. Materials range from grassroots activism to governmental documentation, personal and professional accounts. Most are cross-listed to other categories, especially Law/Public Policy, Health, Politics/Government, Gender Issues.


Materials concerning women’s participation in sports and athletic development; ranging from photographs, interviews and writing on women athletes to policy, articles and educational material focusing on women and sport.


Women’s experiences of travel and the recording of those experiences; including diaries, art, personal correspondence and autobiographies. Often cross-listed with Life Writing.

Violence Against Women – see Social History/Reform


Materials relevant to women’s experience of war and military life; ranging from participation in war-time activities as civilians, underground or enlisted military personnel, to anti-war and protest activities, to experiences as victim(s)/survivor(s) of war. See also Refugee.

Women’s Studies

Materials related to women’s studies as a discipline, or specific field of study. Includes records about or created by both the York University School of Women’s Studies and those of other institutions, and organizations (i.e. caucuses, conferences, associations, affinity groups), including the history of the discipline, and the records of individuals involved in its development. Often cross-listed in other categories.

York University

Indicates that a fonds contains documentation that, in addition to being relevant to one of the other classifications, is also associated with York University. Most often the fonds, or documents within it, are those of York faculty, alumnae or alumni. It may also indicate documentation dealing with York policies, organizations or departments dealing with issues concerning, or of concern to, women on campus.