The archives reflect Dorothy Livesay's earlier work as a poet and consist of poetry manuscripts and typescripts, business correspondence, and typescript drafts of several publications. These records span from 1919 to 1974 and are arranged into four series: Poems: Typescripts and Manuscripts; Poems: Notebooks; Correspondence with Ryerson Press; and Publication Drafts and Author's Prints.
This series consists of approximately 1,470 poems, which are represented as typescripts and/or manuscripts. File titles within this series reflect the arrangement of poems, which are grouped together based on the year and time frame in which those poems were written or, in the case of poems with no recorded date, the year and alphabetical span of those poems. While nearly all of the poems are typescript, most poems in this series are in both typescript (ts) and manuscripts (ms) form. Many poems have multiple typescript copies and some have multiple manuscript copies. It is not clear whether Livesay herself created the typescripts, but many have handwritten notes, edits, or signatures from Livesay. When there is one or more typescript and one or more manuscript of a single poem, the materials are arranged together (ts/ms). Rarely, two different poems are written on one manuscript and therefore not all manuscript poems are arranged with their respective typescript. This series also consists of clippings and photocopies of published poems (p), which are arranged with the typescript and/or manuscript of the same poem.