Palmer, Dorothea collection

Palmer, Dorothea, 1908- .
Dorothea Palmer collection.

1.3 m of textual records.

View full finding aid of Dorothea Palmer collection (PDF)

Dorothea Palmer was born 1908 in England and had some training in a hospital in England. She was employed as a nurse by the Parents' Information Bureau of Kitchener, Ont. to visit homes of those known to be poor or relatively poor, and to offer to needy mothers the opportunity of applying for certain contraceptive materials. Miss Palmer was arrested at Eastview, an Ottawa suburb, as she was leaving the home of a French Roman Catholic family which was on relief and had a large number of children. The mother had telephoned Miss Palmer and asked her to call. Miss Palmer was arrested on the charge of distributing birth control information and contraceptive devices. The trial occupied nineteen days of testimony and four of argument, and during which forty witnesses were examined.

The case was a remarkable one in that the decision overruled religious and medical objections to the dissemination of birth control information. Dorothea Palmer was acquitted March 17, 1937 after a trial that extended over a period of six months. The Crown appealed the case which was heard on the 1st and 2nd of June 1937, by the Court of Appeal for Ontario, presided over by the Chief Justice of Ontario and two Associate Judges. The Appeal was dismissed without Defence Counsel being called. Dorothea died in 1992.

The material was shipped to A.R. Kaufman from the office of F.W. Wegenast after his unexpected death and was stored "In attic at 621 King".


Collection consists of F.W. Wegenast's material relating to the trial of Dorothea Palmer. It contains correspondence, manuscripts, typescripts of court examinations, arguments used in court, research materials, documents, printed and published items, and clippings relating to the case Rex vs. Palmer.


  • This collection was originally called "Dorothea Palmer : Rex vs. Palmer."
  • Term "correspondence" in scope and content note refers to originals, carbons, letter copies, cables, etc.
  • The collection was donated by A. R. Kaufman of Kitchener, Ontario in 1974.
  • Related material can be found in Parents' Information Bureau fonds.

Call number: WA 17