Fonds MS-2-256, Box 1-33 - Robert MacGregor Dawson fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Robert MacGregor Dawson fonds

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  • Graphic material
  • Textual record

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Reference code

MS-2-256, Box 1-33

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1895-1962, 1920-1958 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

4.6 m of textual records

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Archival description area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Born in 1895 at Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Robert MacGregor Dawson was a graduate of Dalhousie and Harvard universities, and the London School of Economics. A leading Canadian political scientist, he taught at Dalhousie, Rutgers and the University of Saskatchewan before taking up an appointment at University of Toronto in 1937. He wrote several major works on the government and constitution of Canada, including a textbook, The Government of Canada, which achieved its sixth edition in 1987, nearly 30 years after his death in 1958. He left the University of Toronto in 1951 to write a biography of MacKenzie King, but died before it was completed.

Custodial history

The original manuscript for Dawson’s 1921 book The Principle of Official Independence was donated to the Archives by his son, Professor Robert MacGregor Dawson Jr, in 1976. In 1979 Professor Dawson Jr. donated some family financial records and Dawson Sr.’s collection of copies of the London Illustrated News. The latter were transferred to Dalhousie’s Special Collections department soon thereafter.

In 1980 the bulk of the fonds was acquired, again by donation from Professor Dawson Jr. In 2002, all material relating to the Nova Scotia Royal Commission on Provincial Rehabilitation and Development, a government commission chaired by Dawson, was transferred to Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management.

Scope and content

Approximately half of the fonds is taken up with general research notes accumulated by Dawson during his working life, consisting of newspaper clipping, hand-written notes and assorted print materials (1917-1958). As well, there is a considerable but not comprehensive body of material relating to his publications, including research notes and correspondence, handwritten and typed drafts, proofs and copies of the finished publications (ca. 1920-1961).

The fonds has a small amount of personal and family papers (ca. 1900-1927), professional correspondence (ca. 1921-1951) and personal correspondence (1899-1950). Finally there are over 160 photographs of Dawson’s family and homes (1895-195-), of acquaintances from his student days at Dalhousie (1915-1920), and 4 photograph albums (undated).

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


The physical arrangement of material reflects the original grouping of material types, e.g. proofs are arranged together, photographs are together, and so on. Unless otherwise stated, for a given type, material is also arranged as found. In instances where there were indications that alphabetical arrangement had once been present--through the presence of runs of material in alphabetic order--that arrangement has been reapplied.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script note


Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

All records are open.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Materials do not circulate and must be used in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room. Materials may be under copyright. Contact departmental staff for guidance on reproduction.

Finding aids

Detailed inventory available on-site.

Associated materials

Records collected by Dawson of the Nova Scotia Royal Commission on Provincial Rehabilitation and Development are housed at Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management.

Related materials


No further accruals are expected.

General note

Preferred citation: [Identification of item], Robert MacGregor Dawson fonds, MS-2-256, Box [box number], Folder [folder number], Dalhousie University Archives and Special Collections, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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Physical Location

  • Box: MS-2-256, Box 1-33