Archival & Special Collections has many collecting strengths. Explore the links below to learn more about them.
Our collection areas
Agricultural History and Rural Heritage
The Agricultural History and Rural Heritage collections are rich resources demonstrating the library's strong commitment to agricultural and rural life and reflecting the history and roots of the university. The beginning of our agricultural history collection dates to the founding of the Ontario Agriculture College in 1874. This collection includes farm business papers, equipment manuals and sales brochures, an apiculture collection, manuscripts, diaries, and correspondence illuminating developments in farming and rural communities in Ontario.
Centre for Canadian Landscape Architecture Archives
The Centre for Canadian Landscape Architecture Archives was established in 1998 to support the university’s landscape architecture degree program. The collection of professional records of significant landscape architects and firms includes rare books on landscape gardening published before 1900, works by 19th century English landscape designer, Humphrey Repton, and prints of projects by Frederick Law Olmsted and Associates.
Throughout its history, the University of Guelph has been at the forefront of foodways education and research. Guelph's Culinary Collections feature an impressive variety of books as well as manuscript and archival resources. With more than 17,000 published volumes, some of which date back to the 17th century, it ranks as one of the largest collections of cookbooks in North America.
The L.M. Montgomery Collection is an essential repository of materials for the study of Lucy Maud Montgomery, her life, and her work. The collection began in the 1980s with the purchase of materials that included her private journals from Montgomery’s son and literary agent, Dr. Stuart Macdonald. The collection today consists of first and significant editions of her works, her private photographs, personal papers, personal library, scrapbooks, and personal effects, as well as an extensive research collection of publications about L. M. Montgomery.
L.W. Conolly Theatre Archives
The L.W. Conolly Theatre Collection consists of collections of materials from professional theatre companies based in Ontario, including the Shaw Festival and the Grand Theatre in London, as well as smaller thematic and activist companies such as children’s, feminist, multicultural, and LGBTQ theatre companies. The collection represents all aspects of theatre including actors and playwrights' personal papers, company records, design and graphic material, technical collections, and professional associations and organizations.
The library's Archival & Special Collections is home to more than 25,000 rare books that range from the 16th to the 21st century. Many of these books are notable for the significance of their subject matter, scarcity, age, physical characteristics, or provenance.
Regional and Early Campus History
The Regional and Early Campus History Collection consists of records and papers related to the founding colleges of the University of Guelph, including the Ontario Agricultural College, the MacDonald Institute, and the Ontario Veterinary College, and includes university records up to the establishment of the University of Guelph in 1964. Notable materials include:
- the Adelaide Hoodless Family Papers
- the F. W. Stone papers
- the Sleeman Family Collection
- community groups and businesses such as the Guelph Spring Festival
- a rich collection of materials related to campus life and student groups
Building on the region’s strong Scottish connections, the University of Guelph established the Scottish Studies Collection in 1965 to provide a centre of study of Scottish history outside of Scotland. The collection has earned a reputation as one of the most extensive collections of Scottish materials located outside of the U.K. and includes materials related to the study of Scottish emigration and settlement in Ontario and turbulent episodes of Scottish history. The collection includes:
- the Jacobite Collection
- the Disruption Pamphlets relating to the Covenanters
- extensive materials related to John Galt
- over 600 chapbooks
- the Lizars collection
- the Foulis Press collection
- a growing collection of Scottish Tourism materials including atlases, guidebooks, ephemera, photographs, and manuscript travelogues
- a rare set of Scottish Land Charters dating to the 14th century