Archival collections

By conducting “patron-driven acquisitions,” the PCHP | PHLC allows archives to be proactive in their record acquisition as opposed to waiting for archival donors to approach them. This way we mitigate the standard bias of traditional archives, which tend to collect records produced by elites and other dominant groups that have a better understanding of the archives’ purpose and value, better connections, and greater concern for personal legacy. In doing outreach with immigrant communities and ethnic groups that have been marginalized in the public record, we seek to provide the means and opportunities to produce more equitable and accurate historiography, and public memory.

As both researchers and community members, we have a unique combination of grassroots and scholarly knowledge about the past and present of Portuguese communities in Canada (and elsewhere), which we use to locate records and donors. Prospective donors greatly appreciate our advanced knowledge of the contents of their records and the stories they tell, thus allowing for a more in-depth conversation between the donor and the archivists who process these collections. The act of donation is only the first moment in our relationship with donors. As much as possible, we try to involve donors in the processing of their collections and in the creation of public history resources that may be generated from their contributions, including audio and video recordings.

The PCHP | PHLC assisted in transferring and processing the following collections to the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, York University Libraries:

Abílio Cipriano Marques’ collection consists of a copy his third book, Poemas e Aventuras do Loiro da Ribeira (Poems and Adventures of the Blond of Ribeira), published in 2013; cassette tapes of him composing his oral poetry and reciting it to friends at community cafés; and his editor’s (Ilda Januário) annotated transcripts. This collection was donated in November 2013.

cleaners 15The Canadian Auto Workers Local 40 (currently Unifor) represents workers in manufacturing, hotel, textile, auto, protection, office and health care services. This vast collection contains, among many other things, records pertaining to the labour organization of Portuguese immigrant women in the building cleaning and textile industries of Toronto in the 1970s-80s, including the unionization of McGregor Hosiery Mills factory employees in 1977, and the strike at the First Canadian Place office building in 1984. CAW Local 40 also absorbed other smaller, more radical unions, like the Canadian Textile and Chemical Union, which organized immigrants and women. These records reflect the more progressive movement within Toronto’s labour movement in the 1970s-80s. This collection was donated in September, 2011.

David Higgs donated his collection of research notes and other material produced and gathered by him and the late Grace M. Anderson during their investigation of the Portuguese community, including photos, correspondence, and newspapers. Higgs and Anderson published the first study of the Portuguese in Canada, A Future to Inherit. The Portuguese Communities of Canada (1976), part of the Generations collection commissioned by the Department of the Secretary of State of Canada. Higgs published and edited other works on the Portuguese in Canada, including the Portuguese Migration in Global Perspective (1990). Higgs also taught Portuguese history at the University of Toronto. An additional batch of photos, booklets and books were donated to the archives after Higgs’ passing in October 2014. See finding aid here. Marques’ collection was the first to be assessed and deposited by the PCHP | PHLC.  It contains records from the Movimento Comunitário Português, a social platform created by a small group of social workers based out of the Toronto’s West End YMCA; the entire collection of the newspaper Comunidade (1975-1979), along with a number of photos and art used in its publication; various issues of the newspaper Luso-Canadiano (1958-1971), an anti-fascist newspaper produced by a group of political exiles based in Montreal with correspondents in Toronto; various issues of other Portuguese-Canadian titles; campaign materials produced and amassed during Marques’ political campaigns for MSSB trustee in 1988, 1991 and 1994; interview transcripts, photos, and other research materials collected by Marques for his  25 Anos no Canadá: Imigrantes Portugueses (1978) with João Medeiros and With Hardened Hands. A Pictorial History of Portuguese Immigration to Canada in the 1950s (1993) with Manuela Marujo; and various materials gathered by Marques throughout his civic, political, and professional involvement in the community. See finding aid here. All Comunidade issues and some photos have been digitized and are searchable on YorkSpace

Felipe Gomes, one of the producers of the documentary Strong Hearts, Steady Hands (2004), directed by Carol Coffey, donated the film’s raw footage, which includes over 50 hours of interviews with Portuguese immigrants and descendants across Canada and in Portugal. This collection was donated in April, 2013. See finding aid here.

Ilda Januário’s collection contains her research notes and interview transcripts produced during her time at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, the Centre for Franco-Ontario Studies, and the Centre for the Study of Education and Work, focusing on Portuguese women in Quebec. It also contains papers from the Comité Lar dos Idosos (2002-2006) – an attempt at creating a Portuguese elderly centre – and from the Portuguese-Canadian Coalition for Better Education (1995-2000), both of which Januário co-founded and chaired. The coalition was a grassroots organization committed to improving the academic achievements of Portuguese-Canadians students. Preceded by the Toronto Portuguese Parents Association and in liaison with the Toronto Board of Education, the coalition came to fruition in response to the “The Every Secondary Student Survey” (1991) and a petition calling on the Ontario Ministry of Education to address deficiencies in the teaching of Toronto’s Portuguese-Canadian students. Its crowning achievement was the Tutoring Program, which started in 2001 and has continued as the On Your Mark program, run by the Working Women Community Centre. See finding aid here.

John Santos‘ personal papers reflect his history as a Portuguese immigrant in the 1960s; as a manual labourer turned skilled industrial worker turned real estate agent; as a community organizer with the First Portuguese Canadian Club, the Federation of Portuguese Canadian Business and Professionals, the Portuguese-Canadian Credit Union, and various Liberal Party riding associations across Ontario; and as an active citizen serving on various boards of the Canadian Consultative Council of Multiculturalism (1973-1977), Metropolitan Police Complaints Board (1982-1989), the Refugee Status Advisory Committee (1985-1986), the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (1985-1989), and the Assessment Review Board (1989-1995). His records were donated in May, 2016.

#20 1966 10 28 For Amnesty in Portugal - PosterThe Portuguese Canadian Democratic Association/ Associação Democrática Portuguesa (PCDA) collection contains records produced and collected by this organization over its forty-eight years of existence (1959-2007). The PCDA was a Toronto-based anti-fascist organization composed of political exiles and other opponents the Estado Novo dictatorship in Portugal. The PCDA was most active in the years leading up to and immediately after Portugal’s Carnation Revolution of April 25, 1974. Besides engaging in homeland and Canadian political activism, the PCDA invested a great deal in cultural development by bringing important artists and intellectuals from Portugal to Toronto and Montreal. This is a vast and rich collection, containing, for instance, correspondence between the PCDA’s executives and many high-profile figures in the Portuguese “anti-fascist” resistance, such as Humberto Delgado, Henrique Galvão, Fernando Piteira Santos, as well as political organizations around the world, including the FPLN and Portugal Democrático. Besides the organization’s administrative papers, this collection also includes every issue of it bulletin A Verdade/The Truth; a sample of Portuguese exiled publications; communiqués from various organizations around the world; photos, among other things. The PCDA’s collection was donated by António Santos. See finding aid here.

The Portuguese Interagency Network (PIN) was founded in 1978 by a group of social workers and other progressive individuals concerned with the lack of communication between the various Portuguese organizations in Toronto and the absence of well-researched needs assessments on that immigrant community. Though often serving as a consultative body for different branches of government, PIN did not shy away from social activism, launching campaigns on health education; adult literacy and skills training; advocating for better public services; promoting cultural and linguistic inclusiveness; among other ventures. PIN was one of the busiest advocacy organizations in Toronto’s Portuguese community until the mid-1990s, when it was forced to reduce its operations following Premier Mike Harris’ public spending cuts. In 2009, it finally closed its doors. PIN’s vast collection contains administrative papers; correspondence; studies and reports; and various literature produced for its many programs and initiatives. This collection was donated by Cidália Pereira. See finding aid here.

GilessmWenona Giles is an anthropologist at York University with a long list of scholarly publications on the themes of gender, migration, ethnicity, work, nationalism, multiculturalism, citizenship, globalization, refugees, war, and education. In the 1990s and 2000s, Giles published multiple articles, chapters, and a book – Portuguese Women in Toronto: Gender, Immigration, and Nationalism (University of Toronto Press, 2002) – following her research in the 1980s on Portuguese immigrant workers (especially women) in London, England, and Toronto, Canada; including the public and private lives of janitorial workers, or “cleaning ladies.” Her interview transcripts, field notes, and records amassed during her research on Portuguese women were donated to the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections in September 2017. That collection is now being processed and will be made available for consultation in future, with restrictions on confidential records, including all transcripts and field notes.  In order to access restricted documents, researchers will have to go through an ethical review process at York University. See finding aid here.

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