Title and statement of responsibility area
Piers Island “Sons of Freedom” Doukhobor Imprisonment collection
General material designation
- Textual record
- Photographic material
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Title statements of responsibility
- Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the collection.
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Physical description area
1.5 cm of textual records
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Archival description area
The records were saved from destruction in the basement of a North Vancouver home once occupied by H. W. Cooper and were then purchased by Simon Fraser University Library, Special Collections and Rare Books.
Scope and content
The collection offers insight into the imprisonment of the “Sons of Freedom” between 1932 and 1934 at Piers Island Penitentiary. The “Sons of Freedom” Doukhobors began as a small, radical movement to reinvigorate the faith, restore traditional Doukhobor values, and protest the sale of land, education, citizenship and registration of vital statistics. They would achieve infamy through civil disobedience, nude marches, and burnings. In 1932, over 600 Sons of Freedom protestors were convicted of public nudity. As B.C. Penitentiary was unable to handle such a rise in inmate population, a satellite prison under the authority of B.C. Penitentiary was constructed on Piers Island to house these prisoners. The records document how the prison was set up and run and the problems that the federal prison system encountered regarding both staff and prisoners. The correspondence and telegrams shed light on the internal discussions of senior officials concerning the management of the prison and its prisoners.
Fonds consists of correspondence, memoranda, telegrams, and other textual records pertaining to the Piers Island Penitentiary created or accumulated by H. W. Cooper during his career as the warden of B.C. Penitentiaries. The fonds also contains photographs which were all taken at Piers Island. The textual records predominantly consist of letters to and from H. W. Cooper regarding the penitentiary, staff, and prisoners. The records have been arranged into the following two series: Correspondence and other documents (1932-1934); and Photographs ([between 1932 and 1934]).
Immediate source of acquisition
The collection was purchased by Simon Fraser University Library, Special Collections and Rare Books in 2012.
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Restrictions on access
No restrictions have been placed on access.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
File and item level descriptions are available.
Additional records pertaining to Piers Island Penitentiary and H. W. Cooper may be found in the Doukhobor collection (MsC 52) held in this institution.
Further accruals are not expected.
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Dates of creation, revision and deletion
Created June 19, 2014 AS
Edited Sept. 4, 2014 MH
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