Scottish Studies

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 and ephemera holdings there are numerous guidebooks and travel accounts and local histories comprising the Scottish Tourism Collection. 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 3,000 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, 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
  • The Glasgow Archaeological Society

Those interested in Scottish Genealogy can consult the resources provided through the Ontario Ancestors' Scottish Special Interest Group. Information about our collections and many others is available there as well.


Scottish Studies Collections

A list of Archival & Special Collections Resources
Title Description Dates
Album of cabinet and imperial albumen prints chiefly of Scotland Album of photographs by George Washington Wilson, James Valentines, and other unidentified photographers. ca 1890
Album of Scottish albumen prints Album of Scottish albumen prints by George Washington Wilson, James Valentine and other. ca 1867-1885
Album of Scottish albumin prints of River Tay from Perth to Killin Photographs of the River Tay in Scotland by James Valentine. ca 1870-1900
Alexander Gair Letters Letters of Alexander Gair and of Joseph Mackay, Catechist, Reay, Scotland - contain references to the Disruption. 1811-1848
Alexander Malet transcriptions Collection of manuscript transcriptions (approximately 50 sheets) relating to Mary, Queen of Scots, then in the possession of Sir Alexander Malet. ca 1880
Amos Cruickshank Letters Letters from Amos Cruickshank, Sittyton, Aberdeenshire, to James I. Davidson, Guelph? chiefly regarding export of cattle. 1873-1891
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
Cameron, Richard A proclamation declaring Mr. Richard Cameron, and others, rebels and traitors, etc. 1680
Cameronian Covenanters Collection of documents related to the Cameronian Covenanters, later known as the United Societies. 1681-1690
Campbell Family The genealogy of the House of Glenorchy. ca 1750
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
Clan Fraser Collection Materials related to Clan Fraser in Canada. 1968-2013, bulk 1992-2013.
Clan Leslie Collection Contains the records of the American Clan Leslie Society and Clan Leslie Society International. ca 1869-
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
Collection of Scottish Scenic Postcards Collection of Scottish Scenic Postcards ca 1950s
David Erskine Dun, Lord Decreet of Declarator - My Lord Dun (1670-1758) Against the Magistrates of Montrose, Constabulary, 1733. 1733
Descriptions of Parishes in the Hebrides Descriptions of parishes in the Hebrides including North and South Uist, Lewis, Harris and Barra. ca 1880
Diaries of Roy and Jennie Fleming Diaries of Roy and Jennie Fleming covering their trip to the British Isles. 1903
Dinwiddie fonds Approximately one hundred letters that illustrate the more practical aspects of Dr. Dinwiddie's professional and personal life, his travels, and business affairs. 1778-1815
Disruption Records Includes addresses, letters, declarations, notices, circulars, reports, and statements. 1840-1873
Duncan Family Papers Family papers of John Duncan, postmaster, Concord, Ontario. 1837-1910