Fonds 1070 - Beverly Shaffer Fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Beverly Shaffer Fonds

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  • Textual record
  • Moving images
  • Graphic material
  • Sound recording
  • Object

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the subject of the fonds.

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CA JPL-A 1070

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1935-2007 (Creation)
    Shaffer, Beverly, 1945-

Physical description area

Physical description

Contains 2.31m of textual records, 1,832 graphic materials (355 photographs, 1,237 slides, and 240 strips of negatives), 125 moving images (53 videotapes, 42 reels, and 30 DVDs), 21 sound recordings (audiocassette tapes), and 17 objects.

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Beverly Shaffer was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1945, and is known for her prolific career as a documentary filmmaker. Shaffer earned degrees from McGill University and Macdonald College before going on to receive her master's degree in film from Boston University in 1971. Before beginning her decades-long career at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), Shaffer worked at the flagship PBS station WGBH-TV in Boston on the Emmy Award-winning series Nova and Zoom, and contributed to Walsh's Animals, a partnership with the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Shaffer began working for the NFB as a staff director in 1975, where she helped found and sustain the groundbreaking women-run film production unit Studio D (1974-1986), which is widely credited as the world's first publicly funded feminist filmmaking studio. During her time at the NFB, she directed numerous documentaries and docuseries tackling subjects relating to social issues like women's rights, disability, domestic violence, and incarceration, including the Children of Jerusalem and Children of Canada series--the latter which included "I'll Find a Way," winner of the Best Live Action Short Oscar in 1978. Other notable films by Shaffer include Academy Award-shortlisted "Mr. Mergler's Gift" (2005) and the 1999 follow-up to "I'll Find a Way," "Just a Wedding."

Throughout her film career, Shaffer won numerous awards from film festivals around the world, including the Academy Awards, the American Film and Video Festival, the John Muir Medical Film Festival, Le festival du film des enfants, the Colombus International Film Festival, the National Educational Film & Video Festival, the Canadian Association for Young Children Film Festival, the Festival Internazionale del Cinema di Salerno, the Taiwan International Documentary Festival, and the Festival international du film pour l’enfance et la jeunesse, among others.

Shaffer retired from the NFB in the mid 2000s and continues to reside in Montreal, Quebec.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds contains materials relating to Beverly Shaffer's filmmaking career spanning from her earlier education through to her retirement, the bulk of which reflect her time as a salaried director with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), where Shaffer directed documentary films tackling issues like family relationships, women's rights, disability, and abuse.

The bulk of the fonds comprises research, correspondence, and other materials like scripts and budgets for potential film projects. Materials from shoots underway--including correspondence, schedules, and other related records--as well as post-production records including press releases and educational materials, can also be found in the fonds.

Numerous awards within the fonds, including certificates (textual) and physical awards (objects), reflect Shaffer's successes in film festivals around the world from the 1970s through the 2000s. Notably, a subseries is dedicated to her Oscar win at the 1978 Academy Awards for the Children of Canada series instalment "I'll Find a Way"--including many photographs, newspaper articles, letters of congratulations, and even sound recordings of coworkers' reactions to the win.

The fonds contains copies of most of Shaffer's films, mostly as reels and videotapes but including several DVDs. This includes the Children of Jerusalem and Children of Canada series, as well as many other documentary short films directed by Shaffer and footage of several interviews. Numerous photographs of cast and crew during and after filming--in the form of prints, slides, and negatives--can also be found in the fonds.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Language of material

  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Chinese
  • Dutch
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Yiddish
  • Polish

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    This description was created by Processing Archivist Kate Moore in September 2023.

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