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Description found in Archives



Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

7.42 m of textual records.

Scope and content

Series contains the personal diaries of William Lyon Mackenzie King. King began his diary in 1893 while a student at the University of Toronto. He continued to make daily entries (with relatively few gaps) until three days before his death in July 1950. The diaries document King's public and private life as a student, civil servant, cabinet minister, labour consultant, Leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister. They constitute an important and remarkable source in twentieth century Canadian history. King attempted to record his activities in great detail. The diaries thus document affairs of state and well as King's inner thoughts and feelings. The length of an entry can vary considerably, from a portion of a page to several pages in length. While the diaries for the early years are often sketchy and incomplete, there are several journals between 1908 and 1926 designated by King as 'private diaries' which document in detail his work for various commissions and conferences as well as his activities as a labour consultant in the United States. These 'private diaries' provide significant information about King's activities and impressions which were not recorded in his regular diary, and are not found elsewhere in the fonds. King wrote his diary until 1937. Beginning in 1938, King dictated his diary to his secretary each night, and the secretary typed the entries. The entries became longer and more detailed, transforming the diary from a record of self-improvement into an aide-memoire. The diaries are arranged chronologically in binders, beginning with the 1893 diary and concluding with the 'private diaries'. The binder for November/December 1945 is missing. There are two sets of diaries, the originals (vols. 147-209) and the transcripts. The diary entries for the period 1893-1937 were transcribed by the literary executors in the 1950s. The executors omitted some passages during the transcription process. These omissions are marked by a line of dots accross the page of the transcript (........). For the years 1938-1950 the transcripts are full copies of the originals. There are negative photostat copies for the 1938-1945 period, and photocopies for the 1946-1950 period. The 'private diaries' relating to trips and conferences were also photocopied.

Textual records
90: Open
from 1 to 209
from 127A to 129A
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Textual records: The original diaries have been withdrawn from circulation. Researchers are requested to consult the online version or the microfiche or the transcripts.

Textual records A list of the diaries and a microfiche conversion list (MSS0502-J13) are available. MSS0502 90 (Paper)

Additional information

Availability of other formats note
The King diaries have been digitized and are available online. The diaries, with extensive additional information, can be viewed at e.html
The diaries are available on 492 microfiche, T-1 to T-275 and M-1 to M-217.

Exhibitions note
Exhibition Title: Fear of Fears. Pages 364 and 420. Curator: Jonathan Brown, Ottawa Art Gallery; Ottawa, Ontario; 2001.02.03-2001.05.15.
Exhibition Title: Victory Bonding. Curator : National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; 1995.06.22-1996.01.03. (pages 1145, 1071, 1311, 339-340)
Exhibition Title: Treasured Memories: 125th Anniversary of the National Archives. Curator: Martin Tétreault, National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; 1997.05.14-1998.01. (MG 26 J13 Vol. 152, 6,12 1921) Exhibition Title: Treasured Memories 2. Curator: Martin Tétrault, National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; 1998.02-1998.09. (MG 26 J 13 box 127; entry relating to 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights) Exhibition Title: Treasured Memories 3. Curator: Martin Tétrault, National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 1998.11-1999.11. (MG 26 J13 vol. 172, 10.09.1939) Exhibition Title: Treasured Memories 4. Curator: Michel Anne Crawley, National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; 2000.03.22-2000.12. (August 6, 1946)
Exhibition Title: Treasured Memories 5. Curator: Michal Anne Crawley, National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; 2001.01.22-2001.11.12. (c-147105)