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
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
Fairlie-Cunninghame of Robertland Grant of arms to Sir John Cunninghame Fairlie of Robertland, County of Ayr, Baronet of Nova Scotia, from Thomas Robert, 11th Earl of Kinnoull, Lord Lyon, King of Arms (1804-1866), Edinburgh. 1837
Fasken Family Collection 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.
Free Church of Scotland Collection of records from the Free Church of Scotland
Geike, Walter A series of seven Handcoloured Etchings of Edinburgh Characters by W. Geikie, c. 1830 and an additional portrait. 1830-1993
George Douglas Collection Materials related to ships and shipbuilding in Scotland. 1924-1994
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
Hay Family Hay Family of Erroll and its Branches. 1843
Highland Regiment of Foot Materials related to the 93rd (or Sutherland) Highland Regiment of Foot. 1790-1900
Hope, Sir Thomas Collection of Laws by Sir Thomas Hope of Craighall, Co. Fife, Lord Advocate, 1631. 1631
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
Jacobite Intelligence Letters Jacobite Intelligence Letters 1715
Jardine Clan Society Collection of photograph albums and some papers relating to the Ontario branch of the Jardine Clan Society. 1978-2001
Jardine Family of Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, Scotland Fonds Jardine Family of Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, Scotland Fonds 1799-1973
John Ferguson Voyage From Perth to New Brunswick in 1840, Journal Kept by J. Ferguson, March 21-June 1, 1840. 1840
John Galt Collection Scottish author and first Superintendent (1826-1829) of the Canada Company. 1785-2013
John Morris Letters Letters from Edinburgh to John Morris, Canada East, 1851. 1851
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
Lizars Collection Collection consists of documents which include John Galt correspondence, ledger dealing with agricultural and settlement matters, possibly the start of information for Canada Company settlers. 1785-1887