Scottish Studies

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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.

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 all Archival & Special Collections Resources
Title Description Dates
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 usually were small pamphlet-like books of clever remarks, folklore, stories, and songs normally costing only a few pence
Scottish Studies Foundation Minutes, correspondence and other materials relating to the Scottish Studies Foundation 1983-1992
Smibert Family Fonds Correspondence of the Smibert family 1825-1863
Smith Family fonds Correspondence and family papers from the family of Alexander Smith 1937-1981
St. Andrews, Scotland (Fife documents) Fife documents on parchment, chiefly land transactions from the firms of Smart and Thomson Faws, Kingskettle, Kettle, Fife and Easter and Wester Pilmour, St. Andrews 1522-1614
Strachan Family Papers Correspondence Relating to the Aberdeenshire Family of Strachan 1813-1819
Urquhart-Campbell-Sutherland Papers This collection includes the correspondence of three Scottish ministers who were related by marriage: Rev. Alexander Urquhart, Rev. James Campbell, and Rev. Murdoch Sutherland 1780-1884
Watt-Argo Family Papers Correspondence to B. Argo-Watt, Nichol Township, from relatives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland 1836-1864
Wauchope Family and Business Collection Collection of receipts, minutes, business letters, legal documents, and other estate affairs. 1650-1800
Wilson, Daniel, Sir (letters) collection of five letters from Sir Daniel Wilson and six from his colleague John Buchanan, mainly to Professor Thomson of Aberdeen, largely concerning a new edition of Stuart's Caledonia Romana 1842-1852