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The Connexions Archive & Library

The Connexions Archive & Library is Toronto-based project dedicated to keeping alive the rich history of grassroots movements for social justice.

Connexions preserves “alternative” histories that rarely appear in the mainstream record, and makes them available online to a wide public, as well as in physical form to researchers and scholars.

Established in 1975, the Connexions Archive preserves and publishes materials spanning more than 50 years of grassroots activism.

Connexions is:

* A resource to help the activists, organizers, and scholars of today and tomorrow connect with and learn from the lives, the work, the writings, and the experiences of prior generations of grassroots activists.

* A physical archive comprising tens of thousands of documents, newsletters, magazines, newspapers, posters, brochures, leaflets, books, newspaper clippings, buttons, postcards, audio recordings and other materials.

* An ever-expanding digital archive with more than 20,000 documents and images already available online, and more being added continually.

* The Connexions Archive is an extremely active “working archive” where volunteers and interns from around the world work together to digitize, abstract, index, and translate materials and make them available online.

* The Connexions website makes materials available to a wide national and international public. The carefully designed multi-level indexing system gives users and activists, students, scholars, and the general public, deeper and more relevant search results when they search for information, ideas, and sources. The website records more than 500,000 page views a month, and continues to grow.

We are an all-volunteer project dependent on donations from supporters. If you’d like to make a one-time or monthly donation, or if you’d like to consider leaving a bequest to support Connexions’ work, please see here for more information.

The Connexions Archive: Building on the past to shape the future.

  Help secure the Archive’s future

Connexions is currently seeking a permanent home for the archive and the people who work on it.

The minimum space we need to house both the collection and the volunteers who do the cataloguing, scanning, etc. would be approximately 600 square feet. An ideal space would be 1,000 - 1,100 square feet. The space need not necessarily be contiguous: it would be possible to have the work space in one spot, and the actual collection in another, as long as they were close enough to make it possible to go from the one to go back and forth in a resonable time. We can afford to make a monthly contribution for the cost of the space, heat, hydro, etc. but we cannot afford market rent.

Please contact us if you have space, or suggestions, leads, or contacts for a suitable space or working arrangement or partnership. For more information, see our fact sheet, read the Case for grassroots archives, or our callout to other grassroots archives, Is that an archive in your basement ... or are you just hoarding?

Contact us at 416-964-5735 or via the contact form.

Highlights from the Connexions Archive

An Annotated Bibliography of Left Literature by Rolf Knight.

Traces of Magma is a 356-page annotated bibliography of left wing novels which deal with the lives of working people during the twentieth century. It includes some collections of poetry, drama and stories as well as a smattering of non-fictional material such as oral history, but primarily it is a compendium of novels.
It provides brief synopses of more than 3,000 titles originally in some 50 languages by circa 1,500 authors from over 90 countries.

7 News was a non-profit community-owned newspaper published in Toronto, in the area east of downtown (known as “Ward 7”), in the 1970s and 1980s. All issues published from 1970 through 1985 have been digitized and are available online, along with a large collection of explanatory materials. Digitzation of this material was supported by a grant from Library and Archives Canada's Documentary Heritage Communities Program.

Connexions features an extensive collection of left-wing political manifestos, political programs, and vision statements. The earliest items in the collection are the 1649 declaration by the English radicals known as the Levellers, An Agreement of the Free People of England, and Thomas Paine’s 1776 pamphlet Common Sense, a passionate and eloquent justification of revolution against tyranny. Among the more than 50 documents included are the Communist Manifesto, the manifesto of the Paris Commune, the 1924 Surrealist Manifesto, the 1933 Regina Manifesto of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, the 1969 Waffle Manifesto, the African National Congress’ Freedom Charter, and the 2015 Leap Manifesto.

A People’s Chronology. Recalling events that happened on this day in history. Memories of struggle, resistance and persistence.

A glimpse into the Connexions Archive

The Connexions Archive includes tens of thousands of items, including newsletters, magazines, posters, books, buttons, leaflets, and much more. Below is a tiny sample of items in the collection.


Connexions Mandate

Connexions exists to support individuals and groups working for freedom and social justice. We work to maintain and make available a record of the theory and practice of people struggling against injustice and for social change. We believe that the more we know about the struggles, victories, and defeats of the past, and about those who took part in them, the better we will be to bring a new world into being.

Connexions maintains a physical archive/library of books and documents, and is engaged in an ongoing project to build and expand an indexed digital archive of documents. We try to feature a wide variety of resources reflecting a diversity of viewpoints and approaches to social change within our overall mandate of support for democracy, civil liberties, freedom of expression, universal human rights, secularism, equality, economic justice, environmental responsibility, and the creation and preservation of community.

We are international in our orientation, but as a Canadian-based project we feature an especially extensive collection of Canadian documents and profiles of Canadian activist organizations.

Statement of Values

We believe .....

1. In the value of preserving the histories of grassroots movements for social justice and making them accessible to new generations.

2. In the importance of keeping alive the memories, experiences, strategies, successes, failures, and visions of those who have worked for social justice over the years so future generations can learn from them and be inspired by them.

3. In the tradition of ‘history from below’ – people's history – working to keep alive memories of resistance in the face of a political culture that insists there are no alternatives to the way things are, and that ‘resistance is futile’.

4. In the importance of diversity and pluralism, of recording and making available a wide range of approaches to social change and social justice. We aim, as best we can, to feature resources reflecting a variety of viewpoints and alternative approaches to social justice.

5. In the value of knowing our history, of knowing that people have been working at the grassroots for a better world for many decades and of learning about the problems they faced and how they tried to deal with them.

6. In the value of passing on the experience and knowledge of elders, and of people who have passed on, to the activists of today and tomorrow. These are threads of wisdom and experience that can be woven into the tapestries of our movements for change.

7. In the importance of sharing information as well as preserving it. Our goal is to make the contents of the archive available as widely as possible, in a variety of formats and languages.

8. In connecting people in different places. For people to act locally and think globally, it helps to know what people in other places are facing and how they are trying to bring about change.

9. In the values of democracy, civil liberties, freedom of speech, universal human rights, secularism, equality, economic justice, ecology, and the creation and preservation of community, which we seek to support through the Connexions Archive.

What others have said about Connexions

“Within the broader realm of archives, Connexions fills a unique, indispensable and ultimately dynamic role – documenting Canadian grassroots movements for social and environmental justice. Because these movements tend to be ignored or misrepresented in the mainstream present, they can fade too easily and irretrievably into oblivion. Connexions ensures that their legacy – a vital part of our shared legacy – remains alive and accessible.”
- Michael Riordon, Author

“The Connexions Archive [is] an extraordinarily rich collection of documents and other materials on the history of social activism in Canada... The Connexions Archive is such an important record of aspiration and intervention for social justice, with 'grey' materials that were rarely collected and catalogued by conventional libraries and have otherwise have vanished (or are rapidly disappearing as aging activists downsize!) that its value for our understanding of these efforts and their influence upon Canadian society is immeasurable.”
- Bruce Kidd, O.C., Ph.D., Professor, Faculty of Physical Education and Health, University of Toronto

“The Connexions Archive is an invaluable collection of materials that provide insight about kinds of social activism and political commitment that are too often marginalized and misunderstood in the conventional scholarship of social movements with its bias toward more institutionalized politics. The emphasis of the archives [is] on a popular politics of education and mobilization “from below,” and the ways this participatory politics has shaped Canadian society.”
- Don Wells, Director, School of Labour Studies, Professor, School of Labour Studies and Department of Political Science, McMaster University

“I wish to support with all the enthusiasm I am capable of expressing the importance of the retention in the most secure manner possible, the materials included in Connexions Archives. There is information and commentary to be found that will not be contained in any other archive of which I am familiar. [I have spent the last few years in both provincial, national and university archives without which my understanding and ability to express my “take” on the cultural history of the past 60 years would have been impossible. Any account of the past decades that ignored these materials can never provide a balanced record of what has transpired!.”
- Walter Pitman, former President, Ryerson Polytechnical Institute; former Dean of Arts and Science, Trent University; former director, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

“Archives constitute our collective memory as Torontonians and are an invaluable aid to those who write our history – or produce new thinking on matters of current concern. Knowing, researching, celebrating collecting and uncovering our story is a critical piece to building our civic future. For these reasons I am an ardent supporter of the Connexions Archive. I have followed Connexions good work for over 30 years. It appeals to me because it is a volunteer community grassroots effort. It reveals the story of the community engagement of so many people working on issues of social justice. As such, Connexions is a vital part of the Toronto and Canadian story. It is also a live, ongoing operation with volunteers scanning, digitizing and indexing a wide variety of publications from across Canada that our larger publicly-funded archives are not, for whatever reasons, doing. The Connexions Archive soon must find new quarters, preferably in a college or university setting, for its volunteers and its materials. I want to commend it to any such institution, for support through space.”
- Joe Mihevc, Toronto City Councillor

“I am writing in strong support of Connexions finding a permanent home with a partner institution or organization. When I was starting off doing my historical work on the emergence and development of the autonomous and independent left in Canada in the 1970s (especially the New Tendency) three years ago the Connexions Archive was an invaluable resource. It was from their site that I was first able to read the document produced by the Windsor Labour Collective called ?Our of the Drivers Seat? and also that I was able to obtain a copy of the full-run of the Newsletters of the New Tendency. This was crucial in providing the basis for me to continue this research which is still ongoing.”
- Gary Kinsman, Professor of Sociology, Laurentian University

“I am writing to underline the importance of the Connexions Archives and the invaluable contribution the books, articles, electronic records can make to research and education in a wide range of fields. The Archives are multilingual, clearly and logically organized, and are a fount of the crucial information that is so necessary for understanding and addressing current critical problems. Particularly helpful to me has been the ample collection of past and present research which provides a necessary context for understanding where we are with climate change and many ecological and political crises.... The Archives offer exceptional breadth and ease of access to information and would be an invaluable addition to the university community.”
- Judith Deutsch, President, Science for Peace

“I strongly support the creation of a proper archives for Connexions documents. The history that your material embodies will be vital to researchers as they explore the development of Canada. This was a dynamic period of change in the country and the world. Many of the non-profit organizations that now play major roles were formed or transformed in that period. Others, sadly, no longer exist but were no less influential. This clearly would be a valuable resource. The institution that houses it will become a central focus of a range of scholars and supporters. As the baby boom generation ages, this will become even more important. Although I cannot speak officially on behalf of Humber College, my personal opinion as a professor, a program head, an author, and a consultant with 35 years of experience in the non-profit sector leaves me no doubt this is worthwhile. .”
- Professor Ken Wyman CFRE, Coordinator, Postgraduate Fundraising & Volunteer Management Program, Humber College - Lakeshore Campus

“The positive value of the Connexions Archive should, I hope, be immediately obvious to any thinking citizen. Santayana’s assertion that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” is just one pearl of wisdom that highlights the priceless value of this particular archive. Historians, today and in the future, will find first-hand data here. A better society will surely be built on the shaky remnants of the current one. A significant store of the information, strategies, insights and wisdom needed to fashion that new future can be found in these archives.”
- Barrie Zwicker, Author

“As a print, radio and TV journalist, and author over the past 30 years, I frequently accessed the very valuable Connexions website when conducting research. I was able to obtain information concerning the background and history of social movements and related activities in Canada that were not available anywhere else. Should Connexions not be able to continue to do its important work, it would be a serious loss to the country.”
- Nick Fillmore, Journalist, former president Canadian Association of Journalists

“I just want to thank you and the people at Connexions Archive for the services you provide me recently. Prior to this, I had consulted a number of libraries (the National Archives, the Fisher Rare Books Library and the Toronto Reference Library among others) in vain trying to locate issues of 7 News, the Ward Seven community newspaper, for a research project on poet Patrice Desbiens. The fact the Connexions Archive had a complete collection was invaluable and allowed me to uncover five original and unreleased poems Desbiens contributed very early in his career while he lived in Toronto in the late 70's.”
- Jean Marc Lariviere, Filmmaker

“I am writing to endorse your efforts to find a space that will allow you to continue your valuable work of building a reference library of existing and future social justice materials. A grassroots library/archive is a valuable project.”
- David Walsh, Chair, Seeds of Hope Foundation

“Because of its unique orientation as a forum for networking and information-sharing, Connexions is something of a crossroads, a meeting place. Central to Connexions’ vision is the belief that the real power for humanizing society rests with those who struggle at the bottom of society. Connexions strives to create the strength that comes from solidarity among those who work for justice.... There is in Connexions’ experience a hopefulness apparent from the imagination and dedication of those in every province and the territories who are standing up to and moving the immense weight of government and business.”
- Catalyst, Citizens for Public Justice

Contact Information

Connexions: Phone: 416-964-5735 Email: Website: Facebook: Twitter: Newsletter: Connexions Newsletter