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Papal Commission on Population and Birth Control fonds
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Papal Commission on Population and Birth Control fonds

  • CA ON00389 F16
  • Fonds
  • 1964 - 1985, predominant 1964 - 1966

Fonds consists of materials accumulated by Dr. Laurent and Mrs. Colette Potvin involving the Papal Commission on Population and Birth Control. The records cover the time period 1964 to 1966. The records consist of preliminary papers and drafts, research and reference material, studies and reports pertaining to the Commission that were sent to the Potvins, correspondence with Commission members and representatives of the Church, as well as reports presented by and to members during Commission sessions.

The fonds is composed of three series:

  1. Correspondence
  2. Research and reference material
  3. Session reports and presentations

Potvin family

Session reports and presentations

Series consists of documents and reports presented to the members of the Papal Commission during the 1966 meeting of the commission. The 1966 meeting was divided into eight sessions:

1.) A – Session Theologique I (April 13 – 28, 1966),
2.) B – Session Theologique – Medicale (May 2-6, 1966),
3.) C – Session Demographique I (May 4 -7, 1966)
4.) D - Session Pastorale (+rhythme) (May 9-14, 1966)
5.) E - Session Theologique II (May 23 – 28, 1966)
6.) F - Session Demographique II (June 1-4, 1966)
7.) G - Session Pleniere (June 5-8, 1966)
8.) Session des Membres: cardinaux, eveques et prêtres (June 20-25, 1966).

Also included are documents and reports created and presented by the members of the Papal Commission.

Files within the series are organized based on session and presentation order within the session.


Series consists of Laurent and Colette Potvins’ correspondence with members and representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and Papal Commission on Birth Control before and durring the Commission's meeting in the summer of 1966. Correspondence includes letters from Church representatives nominating and appointing the Potvins to the Commission; letters regarding background information about the Commission, its structure, composition and sub-sessions; and the drafting and production of reports for the Commission.

Sypto-Thematic Rhythm

File consists of a preliminary draft of the unpublished report “Sypto-Thematic Rhythm: A clinical approach to the theoretical efficiency of Rhythm Birth Control” created February 1965. The report was created by Dr. Claude A. Lancot and sent to the Potvins via post by Lancot.

Journals and pamphlets

File consists of journals and pamphlets accumulated by the Potvin’s, relating to the topic of population and birth control. Journals include the publication “Perspectives” and an edition from “The Journal of the American Medical Association”. A pamphlet titled “Not a way out, but a way forward” by John Julian and Mary Perkins Ryan is also included.

Survey of Contraceptive Methods

File consists of two preliminary unpublished drafts of “Survey of Contraceptive Methods: Report to the Papal Commission on Population and Birth Control” by Andre E. Hellegers, M.D. Dr. Hellegers was part of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, The John Hopkins University School of Medicine and Hospital and the Cardinal Gibbons Center for the Study of Human Reproduction, Baltimore, Maryland. It is unknown if the report was accumulated for their own personal research, in preparation for the Papal Commission, or sent to all members of the Commission.

Problems of Marriage

File consists of the unpublished report “Problems of Marriage” by Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Daly. The report was sent from Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Daly and addressed to Dr. and Madame Potvin. The report is dated February 15, 1965. A note, written on Canadian Catholic Conference: Information Services letterhead, is attached to the report.

Rapport d'enquête des Foyers Notre-Dame Canadiens

File consists of the report “Rapport d'enquête des Foyers Notre-Dame Canadiens. Présenté au Congrès Canadien de la famille” by Alexandra and René Robitaille and accumulated by the Potvins. It is unknown if the report was accumulated for their own personal research, in preparation for the Papal Commission, or sent to all members of the Commission.

Research and reference material

Series consists of notes, reports, essays, pamphlets, articles and clippings created and accumulated by the Potvins in the course of their research surrounding birth control and the Papal Commission on Birth Control. Some material was mailed to the Potvins by birth control and contraception specialists. It is unknown if the material was sent to all members of the Commission, if these reports were requested by the Potvins in preparation for their participating in the Commission, or if the material was collected for their general research.

Colette Potvin: Travail

File consists of process work and drafts created by Colette Potvin between 1965 and 1966. Records include typescripts and drafts of the essay “ce que je souhaite et ce que j'espère” as well as typescripts, drafts, handwritten notes and correspondence relating to other Potvin reports and essays.