Collection PR-031 - Betty Peterson ephemera collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Betty Peterson ephemera collection

General material designation

  • Graphic material
  • Object

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the collection.

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1964, 1974-2006 (Creation)
    Peterson, Betty

Physical description area

Physical description

479 buttons, 184 posters, 2 ribbons, 1 drawing, 1 banner, and 1 shirt

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Betty Peterson (née Farber) was born in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1917. She attended the fine arts program at Syracuse University before marrying Gunnar Peterson in 1939. The couple were conscientious objectors during World War II and were increasingly dedicated to peace movements following the war, later becoming Quakers. They had two children, Lisl and Eric. In 1950, they moved to Chicago where Peterson was involved in the Civil Rights movement, participating in sit-ins, protests, and other political activities.

In 1975, Betty and Gunnar Peterson moved to Cape Breton out of frustration with the political climate in the United States. A few years after Gunnar’s sudden death in 1976, Peterson relocated to Halifax where she became an active member of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and the Halifax Society of Friends (Quakers). Through these organizations she participated in a number of social movements both locally and abroad, including in 1982 when she travelled to New York City to attend a nuclear disarmament rally and present the Women’s International Peace Petition to the UN’s Second Special Session on Disarmament. She also made six trips to Labrador in the late 1980s and early 1990s, where she joined Innu protests of low-flying NATO test flights over Nitassinan, and in 1988 she travelled to Little Buffalo, Alberta on behalf of the Society of Friends in order to join Lubicon Lake Band protests against oil drilling on their land.

Peterson was involved in a number of protests and organizations related to women’s rights, environmental conservation, Indigenous activism, nuclear disarmament, and anti-war movements, including protests against the Gulf War (1991) and Iraq War (2003). She was an organizer of the P7 “People’s Summit” (1995) and a member of the Raging Grannies. She continued to attend protests until a few years before her passing in Halifax, in 2018.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Collection consists of posters and pinback buttons accrued by peace activist Betty Peterson. Materials mainly pertain to protests, speaking events, organizations, and film screenings for social justice causes including nuclear disarmament, environmental conservation, Indigenous activism, women’s rights, and anti-war movements. Collection includes the shirt Betty Peterson wore to a nuclear disarmament rally in New York City in 1982 with buttons attached to it, as well as a cloth banner with the words "Voice of Women Canada" sewn on it, also with buttons attached.

Some materials pertain to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and collection also contains various posters of paintings and art calendars. Collection is organized into two series: posters and buttons.

Notes area

Physical condition

Some buttons have rust stains or faded colouring.

Immediate source of acquisition

Records were donated by Betty Peterson to MSVU Archives in 2011 and 2015.


Arrangement is imposed by the archivist. Some buttons that have rust stains and were attached to the shirt and banner have been removed for preservation purposes and rehoused.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

  • Arabic

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Buttons have been digitized.

Restrictions on access

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright Mount Saint Vincent University Archives.

Finding aids

Item list is available.

Associated materials

See also the Nova Scotia Archives' Betty Peterson fonds for Betty Peterson's personal papers.

Related materials


No further accruals expected.

General note

Accession number: 2011-04, 2015-03

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Created: LMORRISON 2024-01-04

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