Working in Women's Archives: Researching Women's Private Literature and Archival Documents

By Kadar, Marlene; Buss, Helen M. et al. | Herizons, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

Working in Women's Archives: Researching Women's Private Literature and Archival Documents


Kadar, Marlene, Buss, Helen M., Latta, Ruth, Herizons


WORKING IN WOMEN'S ARCHIVES

BY HELEN M. BUSS AND MARLENE KADAR

WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2001

REVIEW BY RUTH LATTA

[Graph Not Transcribed]

Did you know that Nellie McClung wrote in children's scribblers at the kitchen table? That Lucy Maud Montgomery used her journals to vent her anger and discouragement? That "shopping lists and recipes sit alongside elegant prose passages and character sketches" in Marian Engel's notebooks?

These glimpses of Canadian women authors come from a book of seven essays compiled and edited by Helen M. Buss and Marlene Kadar, Working in Women's Archives: Researching Women's Private Literature and Archival Documents. In addition to providing fascinating tidbits of Canadiana, this collection reveals the unique difficulties faced by scholars studying Canadian women authors, particularly those who lived and wrote before 1940.

The ravages of time make the record sketchy: It took Gwendolyn Davies years to bring to light some letters and poems by early Canadian writer Deborah How Cottnam (1728 to 1806). In some cases there is a lack of information because family members have destroyed an author's papers. Or a woman's correspondence was hidden under a man's name because it is standard archival practice to list a collection of papers under the name of the person who accumulated and donated them.

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