The University of Guelph Library is well known for its extensive Scottish Studies Collection that is the largest in the world outside the United Kingdom. Encompassing both Scottish and Scottish-Canadian history, these collections support many areas of research.
The special collections and archives, which comprise part of the overall library collection on Scottish Studies, include thousands of rare books, manuscripts, atlases, travel guides, diaries, letters, newspapers and magazines, pamphlets and burgh records.
Archival and special collections cover many Scottish topics such as topography, rural and agricultural studies, business, chapbooks, family and clan information, emigration, the Jacobite rebellions, local history, and church and religious history (especially the Disruption). Archival materials in the Scottish Collection consist of a variety of formats that include diaries, letters, legal documents, photographs, scrapbooks, clippings and genealogies. The earliest items in the collection are Campbell of Monzie land charters which date forward from c.1330s. The largest archival collection, the Ewen-Grahame papers, covers the period 1732 to 1892; it contains personal and business correspondence with people concerned with art, politics, and commerce. Many collections pertain to Scottish emigrant families, such as the Lizars Collection, an Edinburgh family that settled near Goderich, Ontario. An original collection of Jacobite works purchased in 1975 has been greatly augmented to become one of the best in the world. Manuscript letters and editions of sympathetic tales of the "Young Chevalier" often include flattering portraits of Bonnie Prince Charlie while other works, such as the curious Collectanea, a collection of English newspapers clippings from 1745 to 1747, present anti-Jacobite views.
Among the monographic holdings there are numerous guidebooks and travel accounts and local histories relating to all areas of Scotland that contain fascinating pictorial records. These acquisitions encompass such works as John Parker Lawson’s Scotland Delineated (1858) and travel related publications about cities and illustrated views, such as William Beattie’s Caledona Illustrated (1838) which includes engravings by W.H. Bartlett, T. Allom and others. Earlier rare works, such as Sir John Sinclair’s "old" Statistical Account (1791-99) and county reports, are readily available. The local history collection is unique in North America for its completeness, numbering in excess of three thousand items containing valuable genealogical and local history materials. For those tracing their Scottish ancestry, there are many useful circulating handbooks and a large collection of family histories in Guelph's open collections.
Many tracts on Scotland’s turbulent religious history, such as a collection of the Disruption pamphlets, are located in rare books. More specialized collections of pamphlets cover the Covenanting periods of the 17th century, including both the early period (1637 to 1650’s) as well as the later or Cameronian period. Another valuable addition is a large collection of printed material on the Catholic Apostolic Church, founded by the Annan-born preacher, Edward Irving (1792-1834).
Literary holdings are extensive. The John Galt Collection, while not complete for this author of over a hundred titles, is the best in Canada: the Library has many of his American pirate editions and has one of four known copies of Galt’s epic poem "The Battle of Largs" (1804). Particularly strong is the Scottish Chapbook Collection, numbering in excess of five hundred booklets. These small pamphlets offer a unique insight into what people "on the street" were reading during the first part of the eighteenth century. The Library has a unique copy of a literary magazine The Spy, edited by James Hogg, the "Ettrick Shepherd", in which Hogg had identified many of the anonymous contributors.
Many resources outside Archival & Special Collections circulate, notably the publications of nineteenth century Scottish clubs. These include, for example, the famed Bannatyne Club (est. 1823), first edited by Sir Walter Scott; the Maitland Club, the Spalding Club of Aberdeen, the Society of Antiquaries, and the Glasgow Archaeological Society.
|Alexander Malet transcriptions||Collection of manuscript transcriptions (approximately 50 sheets) relating to Mary, Queen of Scots, then in the possession of Sir Alexander Malet||c.1880|
|Anderson Family Papers||Letters to Thomas Anderson, Settler Near Guelph, From Family and Friends in Kennoway and Edinburgh and Later From Paisley Block to Toronto||1833-1870|
|Armstrong Family Papers||Four Letters written by various members of the Armstrong family, emigrants to British North America From the Counties of Ross and Dumfries||1833-1861|
|Beattie Family fonds||Photocopies of correspondence and rental accounts relating to Beattie Family of Broomhill Farm, Strathdon Parish, Aberdeenshire||1505-1968|
|Brough Family fonds||A collection of Brough family letters from Berwickshire to Otonabee Township.||1834-1864|
|Campbell of Monzie Papers||A series of documents and charters from 1332 to 1811 of the Campbell family in the Monzie castle||1332-1811|
|Clan Fergusson Society of North America||Collection consists of issues of `The Bee Line`, the official newsletter of the Clan Fergusson Society of North America||1972-2003|
|Clarke E. Leverette Collection||Collection of stereographic cards that depict a wide variety of subjects, including views of the University of Guelph, portraits, and travel views from across the globe, including Scotland||1873-1980|
|Duncan Family Papers||Family papers of John Duncan, postmaster, Concord, Ontario||1837-1910|
|Edinburgh Adelphi Theatre Handbills||Collection of 19th century handbills from the Edinburgh Adelphi Theatre, Theatre Royal, Edinburgh and the Royal Mohock Theatre||1835-1845|
|Ewen-Grahame fonds||John Ewen (1745-1821) was a merchant, writer, philanthropist and reformer who lived in Aberdeen, Scotland||1723-1892|
|Fasken Family Collection||General record of family papers including correspondence, legal documents, business and genealogical records of William Fasken and Margaret Mitchell||1784-1887|
|Foulis Press Collection||Robert (1707-76) and his brother Andrew Foulis (1712-75) started as booksellers and then printers in Glasgow. This is a collection of their printed works from the Foulis Press.|
|Geike, Walter (etchings)||A series of seven colour Handcoloured Etchings of Edinburgh Characters by W. Geikie, c. 1830 and an additional portrait||1830-1993|
|Good Family letters||24 typescript letters from various members of the Good Family in Scotland and in Ontario||1841-1875|
|Govan Family fonds||A series of documents relating to the Govan family (along with the Livingston & Kilgour branches) that emigrated to Ontario from Scotland.||1842-1981|
|Hamilton Family fonds||Legal documents relating to various members of the Hamilton family including Lord George Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney||1700-1787|
|Houston-McNeely-Blair Family Papers||Letters and Clippings relating to genealogy of the Houston, McNeely and Blair Families of Scotland||1832-1966|
|Hutcheon Family Papers||Two Letters From J. Ruxton, Ulaw, Aberdeenshire to Members of the Hutcheon Family in Nassagaweya Township, Upper Canada||1829-1835|
|Jardine Clan Society||Collection of photograph albums and some papers relating to the Ontario branch of the Jardine Clan Society||1978-2001|
|John Galt Collection||Scottish author and first Superintendent (1826-1829) of the Canada Company||1785-2013|
|Kelso Family Papers||Papers of the Kelso family, Glasgow, Scotland||1796-1815|
|Letters of Alexander Gair and of Joseph Mackay||Letters of Alexander Gair and of Joseph Mackay, Catechist, Reay, Scotland - contain references to the Disruption.||1811-1848|
|MacDiarmid, Hugh||Correspondence, clippings, exhibition catalogues, programs, sound recording and ephemera relating to Hugh MacDiarmid (i.e. Christopher M. Grieve)||1947-1992|
|McKinnon Family fonds||Correspondence, legal and business documents and a few photographs relating to the genealogy of the McKinnon family||1860|