The Second Wave Feminism Oral History Collection is the result of the findings from the Second Wave Archival Project, a research project organized by Canadian Senator Nancy Ruth and Beth Atcheson. Interviews were conducted by Bronwyn Bragg (lead researcher and interviewer) and Mary Breen. The Second Wave Archival Project aimed to document the history of second wave feminism in Canada. The final oral history collection includes 99 interviews with women from Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
The Second Wave Archival Project was a collaboration between Nancy’s Very Own Foundation (NVOF) and the University of Ottawa Library Archives and Special Collections. NVOF is a private foundation in Toronto founded by Senator Nancy Ruth. The interviews are part of the Canadian Women’s Movement Archives (CWMA) at the University of Ottawa Library. Bronwyn Bragg was employed from 2008-2010 by NVOF and later published a master’s thesis from the University of Toronto in 2011 titled “Deconstructing ‘Hegemonic Feminism’: The Emergence of ‘Second Wave’ Feminism in Canada (1965-1975)”. In this thesis Bragg also outlines the history of the project.
The oral history interviews were digitally recorded and conducted primarily in person. Some were done over the phone. The interviews conducted in Ontario are accompanied by transcripts done by Bronwyn Bragg.
In 2007, the original intention of the project was to collect documents and ephemera relating to second wave feminism in Canada. Then it was decided to collect oral history interviews instead when locating documents proved more difficult than anticipated. Initially ten women in Ontario were on the list of interviewees. However, the list of interviewees grew and more than forty interviews had been recorded by Bronwyn Bragg by October of 2008.
A goal of the project was to reflect the diversity of the second wave movement in Canada by including experiences from women of colour, aboriginal women, women with disabilities, and women who identify as LGBTQ2S+ as outlined in Bragg’s master’s thesis. Interviews with women who were active early on in the movement were prioritized as were interviews with the eldest women outlines Bragg.
An interview guide and consent form was created for the interviews. The consent form states that recordings will become the property of uOttawa and included in the Canadian Women’s Movement Archives, interviewees can restrict access to their interviews if desired, and receive a copy of their interview, etc. Lawyers working on the project drafted the consent form with input from the University of Ottawa Library Archives and Special Collections. The content of the consent form was reviewed before and after the interview with the interviewee. Once the interview had been conducted, participants were asked to sign the form and stipulate any access restrictions.
The interview guide was created in collaboration with other feminist academics in history and sociology. Questions in the guide were general and open-ended. The interview guide consisted of a list of questions grouped into four categories. The first being to capture stories for the next generation of feminists and to create permanent archival records for future research. The first section of questions dealt with how participants became involved with feminism, the second dealt with organizational affiliations and group memberships, the third dealt with how participants felt to be part of the movement, the fourth about what participants thought was important for young feminists today. The participants were not sent the interview guide before the interview unless they requested it. A list of open-ended demographic questions was appended to the guide to serve as follow up questions. This was done to ensure all relevant information had been captured during the interview.
Two goals were stated in the guide. The first being to capture stories for the next generation of feminists and to create permanent archival records for future research on second wave feminism in Canada.