Fonds MsC-170 - Mary Billy fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Mary Billy fonds

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  • Textual records

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of fonds.

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  • 1977-2005 (Creation)
    Billy, Mary

Physical description area

Physical description

.96 m of textual records

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Mary Billy, born May 31, 1936, was a feminist, activist and writer. Billy was born in Abbotsford, British Columbia, but carried out most of her professional life in Squamish, British Columbia. She worked as a taxi driver, coordinator of a women’s centre and school bus driver before discovering herself as a writer.
Billy self-published a collection of short writings and poems titled In The Turning: Summer Journal of a Sojourner in the Women’s Movement in 1986. She was strongly influenced by Margaret Laurence and Al Purdy. In 1988, she attended the West Coast Women & Words Writing School and Retreat at the University of British Columbia.
In 1989, Billy released the first edition of Facing the Horror: The Femicide list, a list of names and short synopses of the incidents of women murdered in Canada by men since first anniversary of the Montreal Massacre in 1989.
In 1989, Billy founded Herspectives magazine, a quarterly journal of writings by women. Herspectives published work by both emerging and seasoned women writers and provided a lively forum for a broad range of women’s issues until it ceased publication in 1995.
Billy published another book of poetry, Over The Falls, in 1998. During that year, she also was awarded the International Helen prize, named after Dr. Helen Caldicott, which honors “ordinary women for their many heroic, significant, but often unrecognized contributions to the quality of life on our planet.” Billy received this award in recognition of mentoring young women, her many years as a feminist activist and for maintaining The Femicide List.
In 2001, Billy published her third collection of poetry, Under My Blue Hat, followed by a fourth collection, She is Carved in Stone, in 2009.
Billy remained a dedicated feminist and activist into her retirement and until her death in 2015. She produced a line of Happy International Women’s Day greeting cards, made dishcloths for The Stephen Lewis Foundation on HIV/AIDS in Africa and contributed to The Defiant Women’s Support Fund. She had three daughters and four grandchildren.

Custodial history

Records were in the custody of Mary Billy prior to their acquisition by Simon Fraser University Special Collections and Rare Books in 2005.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records relating to Mary Billy's life and work as a feminist and editor of Herspectives magazine. Records include correspondence, notes, drafts, poetry, women’s activism records, diaries, journals, clippings, photographs, and research records.
The fonds has been arranged into the following six series: Correspondence (1986-2005); Written works (1978-2002); Diaries (1978-2002); Herspectives records (1989-1995); Women’s activism records (1985-2004); and Works by others (1977-1994).

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Records were donated by Mary Billy in 2005.


Arrangement of the files into series provided by the archivist.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Availability of other formats

Digitized audio materials are available for research in SFU Digitized Collections:

Restrictions on access

Correspondence between Mary Billy and Verna Turner is restricted until after the death of Verna Turner.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

All of the works in this fonds, e.g. stories, essays, and other written material, are under copyright. Researchers are required to secure permission from the copyright holder(s) for uses of this material other than those covered by fair dealing.

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No future accruals are expected.

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Created January 6, 2016. SS
Described August 2016 MS

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