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War and Conflict

Guide to Archival Resources for War and Conflict Related Material at York University


This guide was designed to assist the archives user in locating the fonds and collections holding war and conflict related archival material. The resource guide is still under development, and hence only a partical listing of relevant archival holdings is currently available.

To fully understand what this guide does and does not cover, it is necessary to understand some basic concepts in archival terminology. The first concept which requires definition is the term "private" fonds/collections. The archives collects two broad categories of material: the official records of York University and private fonds/collections. While the official records of York University are those related to the governing, administrative, academic and student bodies of the university, private fonds/collections are archival materials created by persons, families or organizations outside of the sphere of official university business.

Other concepts which are critical to understanding this guide are the concepts of the fonds and collection. A fonds is defined as "the whole of the documents, regardless of form or medium, automatically and organically created and/or accumulated and used by a particular individual, family or corporate body in the course of that creator's activities or functions."1 Therefore, the fonds is a group of records that is naturally created by a person, family or organization in the course of their everyday lives and activities. A collection, on the other hand, is a unit of material that is artificially created or brought together on the basis of some common characteristic, such as subject, language, etc. In this guide, both fonds and collections have been surveyed for materials related to war and conflict.

This guide was developed by surveying the Private Collections and identifying fonds/private collections relevant to research on war and conflict. The amount of information that any given fonds contains within a classification may range from a single record (a letter or diary), to a series or body of work, and other kinds of textual record. For more details about specific fonds, the researcher will need to visit the York Archives and Special Collections located in the Scott Library.

Having identified a fonds containing material relevant to their research, the user should then proceed to the Fonds Inventories and related finding aids to identify the specific document titles and descriptions. It is at this level that the researcher will be better able to determine the relevance of the fonds contents and request those items which require further study. Due to the nature of archival collections the user should be aware of two significant characteristics in accessing or retrieving the fonds. Firstly, that the degree of access to documents ranges within and between collections. Some documents will require the permission of the Archivist and/or a trustee of the individual collection. Secondly, while the fonds are generally centered on (or named for) one person, family, or organization, they tend to contain extensive amounts of material produced by or about others.

1 Bureau of Canadian Archivists. Rules for Archival Description (Ottawa: Bureau of Canadian Archivists, 1990), D-4.

*ASC would like to thank Sharon Blady, Jennifer Harris and Catherine Adams Schimpl for their time and effort in compiling this resource guide.

War and Conflict Subject Classifications

Arms Race

Audiovisual material

Correspondence and diaries


National Defence

Peace Organizations

War of 1812


Women, War and the Military

World War I

World War II