Donald Ronald Graham was born in Regina, Saskatchewan on August 3, 1947 to Jim and Marjorie Graham. After he graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a master's degree in history, he worked as an economist for the Saskatchewan Economic Development Board for a couple of years before he accepted the position of the provincial government's cultural conservation co-ordinator in 1970. He married Elaine in 1969 and had two sons, David and Jonathon.
In 1976, Donald moved his family to Victoria, British Columbia on the first leg of their journey to join an agricultural co-operative in Belize. While in Victoria, he saw a job ad and applied to be a lighthouse keeper. By February 1978, Graham was first assigned to Point Atkinson in West Vancouver and then transferred to Lucy Island in Chatham Sound. After a year, he was then assigned to the lighthouse at Bonilla Island in the Hecate Straits. By 1981, however, Graham asked to be reassigned to Point Atkinson where he remained as the light keeper for the next 17 years until his position was finally replaced by an automated light in 1996. Despite the loss of his job, he and his family remained as residents of Lighthouse Park, as his wife was the area's warden.
Graham wrote two books Keepers of the Light (1985) and Lights of the Inside Passage (1986) that documented the history of lighthouses in British Columbia and revealed many personal and sometimes tragic stories about lighthouse keepers and their families. Both books were well received by the public and eventually garnered him a B.C. Book Award. In recent years, Graham became an outspoken critic of a federal government policy of automating the lighthouses as a cost-cutting measure and was frequently quoted in newspapers defending the tradition of humans staffing lighthouses.
The records have been organized according to either Graham's original filing system or to its overall contents.
Photographs of individual lighthouses and lighthouse keepers and their family members have been removed from their corresponding files and placed in a separate Photographs and Slides series.