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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
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
McLeish, A. Journal A journal that describes a trip made by A. McLeish from Glasgow to London in 1816 and Glasgow to Denmark in 1820. 1816-1820
Mickle Family Collection Collection of correspondence, legal documents, accounts, and photographs relating to 6 generations of the Mickle Family. 1710-1950
Miller-Davidson Family Collection Letters, books, scrapbooks and other records relating chiefly to the shorthorn cattle business between Amos Cruikshank of Sittyton Grove, Aberdeenshire and the Miller and Davidson families of Ontario. 1867-1945
National Library of Scotland Publications Includes 14 publications by the National Library of Scotland. 1990-1992
Photograph Album and Archive of a Scottish Soldier in Cairo A photograph album and small archive related to Sergt. John Lister's time as a soldier in the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force stationed in Cairo during the First World War, 1915-1917. 1915-1917
Photograph Album of Aberdeen, Braemar, and Ballater, Scotland Photograph by George Washington Wilson ca 1853-1893
Photograph Album of Scottish Highland Scenes Album of photographs of Scottish Highland scenes by George Washington Wilson ca 1888-1900
Photograph Album of Tarbert Village on Loch Fyne, Scotland Photographs by George Washington Wilson ca 1853-1893
Photograph album of Tullibody, Sauchie, and Edinburgh, Scotland Photographs by George Washington Wilson. ca 1853-1893
Photographs and Postcards of Kirkpatrick-Durham Photographs and Postcards of Kirkpatrick-Durham 1913-1956
Photographs of Scottish Scenery Photography of Scottish Scenery by James Valentine. ca 1870s
Photographs of Scottish Scenes Photograph album of Scottish Scenes by James Valentine. ca 1840s
Pioneer Collection The Pioneer Collection represents the personal library of Mr. Daniel Lizars (1793-1875), a Scottish immigrant who came to Canada from Edinburgh with his family in 1833. pre 1834 - ca. 1875
Postcards from Kilwinning, Scotland Postcards from Kilwinning, Scotland 1880-1895
Pulteney Family Papers Correspondence addressed to Sir W. Pulteney from his two agents George Malcolm and John Maxwell, chiefly concerning management of Westerhall Estate, Dumfriesshire. 1628-1874
Register of British Regimental Histories, 1761-1900 Manuscript detailing Regiments of the British Army. 1761-1900
Robert Christie fonds Legal documents of Robert Christie, a paving merchant of Glasgow, and his daughter, Robina Christie Hosie. 1900-1939
Robert Steel Collection Collection includes leather-bound sketchbook containing 26 sketches of Scottish scenery. 1850-1858
Rosebank Estate Photo Album Rosebank photo album 1880-1892
Scott, George (essays) A hard cover bound book containing written essays by George Scott dating from 1802-1817 with an addition in 1835. 1802-1835
Scottish Chapbook Collection Chapbooks in Scotland were usually small pamphlet-like books of clever remarks, folklore, stories, and songs normally costing only a few pence.
Scottish Scenery, Photographs by James Valentine Albumen prints of Scottish scenery. ca 1860
Scottish Studies Foundation Various materials relating to the Scottish Studies Foundation. 1983-1992