Archives are those records created, received and retained by individuals and organizations as evidence of their actions and

transactions. As such they serve as their “documentary memory” and thus provide important information about the functions,

activities, and decisions of record creators over time.

In keeping with its acquisition mandate Archives and Special Collections preserves and makes available:


  • York University archives which includes records of the governing, administrative, academic and student bodies of

    York which have archival value, e.g. regulations, policies, minutes, correspondence and reports of faculties, departments

    and administrative offices; and which are preserved for their legal and evidential values.
  • Private archives: Every archives has an acquisitions mandate for private archives which serves as a guide when

    deciding whether to accept archival records offered by an individual or organization. At York, the private archives

    we acquire reflect the following research interests: “Canadian women, Canadian writers, the arts, social reform

    and the multi-cultural imagination.” As such, York archives houses the papers of Norman Levine, Adele Wiseman,

    bill bissett, Carol Malyon, Susan Swan, Bruce Powe, Don Coles, Jason Sherman, Stevie Cameron, Rohinton Mistry,

    and Rick Salutin as well as those of individuals and organizations associated with the dramatic arts and dance in

    Canada (notably Mavor Moore, Herman Voaden, Donald Davis, Robert A. Lawson, Herbert Whittaker, Danny Grossman

    Dance Company, Toronto Dance Theatre and the Canadian Association of Professional Dance Organizations).

Special Collections

The foundation and scope of Special Collections is Canadian studies; its focus is post-confederation Canadiana,

concentrating on Ontario subjects. Collections of significance include:

  • The Canadiana Collection consisting of Canadian imprints, which are out-of-print and/or significant to the Canadiana Collection.

    Included here is the Gibson Collection acquired in 1995. The focus of the collection is Ontario and Quebec and covers

    history, biography, the social sciences, and the fine arts. Consideration is given to publications that support, for instance,

    advanced and specialized research in Canadian studies, historically important and highly influential works, with

    comprehensiveness applied to York Canadian historians and social scientists.
  • The Canadian Literature Collection which was originally a representative literature collection was assembled,

    with an emphasis on British, American and Canadian authors. This focus has been refined and now acquisitions

    are limited to the works of selected Canadian authors, including first editions with comprehensiveness applied to

    those Canadian authors, particularly Ontario writers, York faculty and students, whose literary papers have been acquired.
  • The Canadian Pamphlet Collection which constitutes a major resource for students and scholars working in the field of Canadian studies.

    Dating from the 18th century to the present, the collection covers a wide variety of subjects that include social and political issues, religion,

    fine arts, and women’s studies.