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History collection policy

2008 revision

History of the Collection

The History collection owes its foundation as a research collection to Peter Redpath who in 1866 began donating books to McGill to form the basis of the library which he was establishing for the University. Although his concentration at first was on British history he later expanded his field of purchasing to include continental Europe. The collection was enriched in subsequent years from other generous donations by Francis McLennan, a passionate and discriminating collector of books concerning all aspects of European culture of the 17th and 18th centuries. Chief Librarians Lomer and Pennington were personally instrumental in building strong collections on the two World Wars. Over the years many members of the History Department took a strong interest in the development of the collection, identifying opportunities for major purchases and donations. A succession of grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to the Library for the strengthening of its research collections in history have largely been directed to the purchase of microforms of primary source materials.

Current Collection Development

This collection policy statement is intended to cover all geographical areas with the exception of Canada, China, Japan, Korea, the Middle East and North Africa (Islamic Studies Library), for which separate policy statements are available. Contemporary history, which for convenience the library defines as issues or events occurring after 1968, is covered by the Political Science Liaison Librarian. Attempts to define the scope of the Library's history fund when it comes to such matters as economic history, religious history, cultural history are not easy since so much of contemporary scholarship is interdisciplinary. It is often the approach rather than the subject matter that helps the History Liaison Librarian decide what to buy from history funds and what to refer to the Economics or Religious Studies liaison librarian, for example. Apart from the large number of historical monographs being published, there is also a substantial number of serial titles of a historical nature. The choice has been made to concentrate on current monographs, primarily in English, in order to maintain the strength in this area while preserving resources for the purchase of expensive primary source sets.


Primary source materials in the form of archival documents or of private letters and papers are increasingly available in published form, often as microforms or in electronic format, and almost invariably at great cost. These primary sources are at the core of the discipline, and are essential not only for research but for the instruction of undergraduates. Primary sources are accorded a high priority and are selected when available and financially feasible. In order to avoid unnecessary or inadvertent duplication of costly primary source materials, it is Library policy to ascertain whether the proposed title is available at or on order for another Montreal academic institution, or the Center for Research Libraries, before ordering.

Academic Programs and Liaison

The History Department offers a full range of courses at the undergraduate level as well as courses and seminars of relevance to the master's and doctorate degrees. The Department shows a particular strength in European, British and North American history, and is developing increased depth in the history of the Indian Ocean World.


The responsibility for the development and management of the history collection, as defined in this policy, devolves on the History Liaison Librarian. Communication with the Department of History is arranged, ordinarily, through the Chair of its departmental library committee.

McGill Resources

The Humanities and Social Sciences Library (McLennan-Redpath) is the major location for the University's collection in history and auxiliary subjects, e.g. biography, palaeography, international relations, religious history, etc. and the Reference Department has a basic collection of reference works on history as well as a rich array of bibliographies and other reference works required for research.


The Government Information Service has a rich collection of official publications. It is a depository for such regional and international organizations as the United Nations, the European Union, and the International Labour Organization. Official publications from countries outside of Canada are acquired selectively with emphasis on documents from Great Britain and the United States.


Historical holdings of particular note are the collections of Canadian, provincial, and British documents as well as those of the League of Nations and the United Nations. Current titles of interest are the British Parliamentary Papers, and the Microlog collection of Canadian provincial documents.


While most government documents are housed in the Government Information Service, there are many monographic series and backfiles (other than parliamentary papers) of historical interest such as the publications of the British Public Record Office, American State Papers and the Foreign Relations of the United States series which are classified in the Library of Congress classification system and kept in the Library's general stacks.


Blackader-Lauterman Library of Art and Architecture maintains a collection of titles the history of art. It is especially strong in works related to the Renaissance period.


Digital Collections Program digitally captures and provides electronic access to the Library’s unique, rare, and special collections via the web. Several collections are of historical interest, including the Canadian War Poster Collection and In Pursuit of Adventure: the Fur Trade in Canada and the North-West Company.


The Islamic Studies Library maintains a collection of titles pertinent to the history of Muslim Spain and Italy, North Africa, Egypt and the Sudan, Arabia, the Levant, Turkey, Iraq, Central Asia, Indonesia and Sub-Saharan Muslim Africa, all of which are collected at the research level.


Life Sciences Library (formerly Blacker-Wood Library of Biology), another major research collection housed at McGill, has substantial holdings on scientific expeditions, and is a good source for the history of the sciences in general.


Nahum Gelber Law Library includes important resources in constitutional and international law. Specialties include publications concerning human rights, international treaties, and air and space law. The focal point of the Wainwright (rare book) collection is the history of French civil law and includes much material of interest to the historian of Europe.


The Osler Library of the History of Medicine, a world-class collection based on the personal library of Sir William Osler, has historically interpreted its mandate very broadly and includes a wider range of publications than might be expected. The Library’s holdings are fully catalogued except for some archival material relating to Sir William Osler and several local physicians.

Rare Books and Special Collections is the repository of many early editions, among which are the Redpath Tracts, a collection of published documents and some 15,000 political and religious pamphlets printed in the British Isles from 1561-1900. Also housed also are the Nathanson Collection of Lincolniana, comprising some 3500 monographs, 1200 pamphlets and a fair number of serial titles, as well as several hundred reproductions of contemporary prints of Lincoln, the Civil War, political cartoons, etc., and the Napoleon Collection, which consists of some 2275 monographs, 360 pamphlets, 3500 prints, many dating prior to 1850 and including 110 maps and plans. In addition to these subject collections, Rare Books also holds the Philip Jaffee Communist Pamphlets Collection and the Roy States Black History Collection, among others. Rare Books also contains a fine collection of sixteenth to nineteenth-century maps.

Regional Resources

Concordia University libraries have a broad general collection. Their particular strengths are British history of the 16th century, nineteenth-century Irish history, the history of the Holocaust (with a great many allied materials dealing with Nazism) and local history and historiography best exemplified in their holdings on 18th century Yorkshire and antebellum Georgia. Vanier Library on the Loyola campus has considerable strength in East African history, and houses two special collections of relevance to historical research: the D’Arcy McGee Collection on the Irish in Europe and America from the mid-nineteenth century and early twentieth century, and the Azrieli Holocaust Collection.


Université de Montréal. Bibliothèque des lettres et sciences humaines has a sound, broad collection with its major strengths in Quebec and Canadian history.


Université du Québec à Montréal is very strong in the history of Quebec.


Consortia and Document Delivery


Membership in large research consortia provides access to vast bibliographic databases and to efficient document delivery systems based on the holdings of North America's most eminent research collections.


Journal articles and books not owned by the McGill Library are available free of charge to McGill students and faculty via the Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery Service in the McLennan Library Building.


The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) in Chicago, maintains a collection of expensive multi-volume sets, microfiche editions, newspapers runs, theses, etc. McGill University is currently a subscribing member, and thereby enables university researchers to borrow titles for extended periods.


In addition to the Center's regular acquisition of materials of interest to its members, the Center will purchase, on a demand basis, foreign dissertations, microfilms of archival materials, and retrospective files of newspapers to which CRL has a current subscription. Holdings may be viewed on their web site. Demand purchases are subject to some policy and financial restrictions. Further information is available from the Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery Service.


Memberships in OCLC and other consortia such as CISTI provide access to vast bibliographic databases and to efficient document delivery systems based on the holdings of North America's most eminent research collections. Monographs and journal articles not available at McGill are obtainable at no cost to the user via the Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery Service.

General Collection Guidelines


Languages: At the present time, English is the primary language of collecting, with leading works in the French, German, Italian, and Russian languages also collected. Works published in a language other than English will be acquired if the author or the content is of sufficient importance.


Chronological Coverage: The period covered spans approximately 500 B.C. to 1968. The early period: 500 B.C. to ca. 300 A.D. is primarily reserved for classical Graeco-Roman history, and reflects the interest of the Department.


Geographical Coverage: The History Liaison Librarian is responsible for the acquisition of materials relating to the history of the United Kingdom, Western Europe, the United States of America, Latin America and Mexico, and to a lesser extent, the Caribbean Islands, Australia and New Zealand, Africa, other than Islamic countries, and Asia, other than Japan, China and Korea, and classical Greece and Rome.


Date of Publication: The major part of the history fund goes toward the purchase of current monographic titles.


Subjects and Levels of Collecting


Definitions of collection levels are derived from the American Library Association's Guide for Written Collection Policy Statements, 2nd ed., Chicago: American Library Association, 1996. The subject arrangement is based on the Library of Congress classification schedule for history.


Collection Levels Definition of the collection levels employed by McGill University Libraries.


Classification

subjects

 

 

 

Collection level:    

Current  

  Desirable

D1 - 24.5

General

3a

 

D13 - 15

Historiography

3b

D16.7 - D16.9

Philosophy of History

3b

 

D25 - 27

Military and Naval History

3a

 

D31 - 34

Political and Diplomatic History

3a

 

D101 - 110.5

Medieval and Modern History - General

3a

 

D111 - 203

Medieval History

3b

 

D204 - 893

Modern History, 1453 -

3b

 

WESTERN EUROPE

 

 

 

 

General

 

 

D901 – 980

   Description and Travel

2

3a 

D1050 - 1075

   History

3a

 

 

Great Britain

 

 

DA10 - 18

   British Empire; Commonwealth of Nations

3a

 

 

England

 

 

DA28 - 35

   General

3a

 

DA40 - 89.6

   Political, military, naval an Air Force history

3a

 

DA129 - 260

   Early and medieval to 1485

3b

 

DA300 – 592

   Modern, 1485-1968

3b

 

DA310 – 360

   Tudors, 1485-1603

4

 

DA385 – 398

   Early Stuarts, 1660-1714

4

 

DA400 – 429

   Civil War and Commonwealth, 1642-1660

4

 

DA430 – 497

   Later Stuarts, 1660-1714

4

 

DA505 – 522

   George III, 1760-1820

4

 

DA550 – 565

   Victorian era, 1837-1901

4

 

DA670 – 690

   Local history and description

3a

 

DA700-745

Wales

2

3a

 

 

 

 

DA750 – 890

Scotland

3b

 

DA777 – 790

   Early and medieval to 1603

3a

 

DA800 - 814.5

   1603 - 1707 / 1745

4

 

DA807

   The Union, 1707

3b

 

DA813 - 814.5

   The Jacobite movements, 1707-1745

4

 

 

 

 

 

DA900 – 995

Ireland

3b

 

DA930 - 937.5

   Early and medieval to 1603

3a

 

DA938 - 965

   Modern, 1603 -

4

 

DA949.7 – 965

   19th and 20th century

3b

 

DA963

   1922 - the Republic

3b

 

 

 

 

 

DB1 – 880

Austria

3a

 

DB56 - 93.4

   Habsburg Empire, 1521-1918

3b

 

DB96 – 100

   Republic, 1918

3b

 

DB901 – 1000

Hungary

 

 

 

   see Slavic and East European Studies policy

 

 

DB2000 – 2650

Czech Republic

 

 

 

   see Slavic and East European Studies policy

 

 

DB2700 – 3200

Slovakia

 

 

 

   see Slavic and East European Studies policy

 

 

 

 

 

 

DC1 – 800

France 

 

 

DC60 - 109

   Early and medieval to 1515

3b

 

DC110 - 119

   1515 - 1589

3b

 

DC120 - 130

   1715 - 1789

3b

4

DC139 - 249

   1789 - 1815

3b

4

DC161 - 190

   The Revolution

3b

 

DC191 - 249

   The Napoleonic Era

3b

 

DC250 - 260

   19th Century

3b

4

DC361 - 423

   20th Century

3b

 

 

 

 

 

DD1 – 901

Germany

3a

 

DD125 - 174.6

   Early and medieval to 1519

3a

 

DD175 - 289

   Modern, 1519 -

3a

 

DD175 - 189

   1519-1648: Reformation and Counterreformation see also Religious Studies policy

3b

4

 

 

 

 

DD206 - 216

   Thirty Years' War, 1618 – 1648

3b

 

DD217 - 231

   1815 – 1871

3b

4

DD233 - 289

   New Empire, 1871-1918

3b

 

DD253 - 256.5

   Revolution and Republic, 1918

3b

 

 

   Hitler, The Third Reich, World War II (1933-45)

4

 

 

 

 

 

DE

Graeco-Roman World

 

 

 

Greece

 

 

DF1 - 300

   Ancient Greece

3b

4

DF501-700

   Byzantine Empire: Ottoman rule, see Slavic and East European Studies, Islamic Studies policies

 

 

DF833-854.32

   Modern Greece

2

3a

 

   20th century – 1968

3a

 

 

 

  2

 

 

Italy

 

 

DG1 – 400

   Ancient Italy - Roman Empire

3b

DG401 - 583

   Medieval and Modern Italy, 476 - 

3a

 

DG532 - 537.8

   Renaissance

4

 

DG552 - 554.5

   1848 - 1871, Risorgimento

4

 

DG571 - 572

   1919 - 1945, Fascism, Mussolini

3b

 

DG576 - 579

   1948 - the Republic

3b

 

 

 

 

 

DH1 – 925

Netherlands (Low Countries) Belgium. Luxembourg

3b

 

DH141 - 162

   Early and Medieval to 1384

3b

 

DH171 - 184

   1384 - 1555, House of Burgundy

3b

 

DH185 - 207

   Wars of Independence, 1555–1648

3b

 

 

 

 

 

DH503 – 692

Belgium

3a

 

DH585 - 619

   1555 - 1794, Spanish and Austrian rule

3b

 

 

 

 

 

DJ1 – 411

Netherlands (Holland)

3b

 

DJ151 - 152

   Early and medieval to 1555

3b

 

DJ154 – 210

   1555 - 1795, United Provinces

3b

 

 

 

 

 

DK1 – 1000

Russia, Soviet Union, see Slavic and E.E.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DK4001 – 4800

Poland, see Slavic and E.E.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DL1 – 859

Scandinavia

3a

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spain

 

 

DP98-123

   711-1516, Moorish domination and the Reconquest (see also Islamic Studies Policy)

3b

 

DP161-271

   Modern Spain, 1479 - 1516

3a

 

DP269-269.9

   Civil War, 1936 - 1939

3

 

 

 

 

 

DP501-776

Portugal

3a

 

 

 

 

 

DQ1 – 851

Switzerland

3a

3b

 

 

 

 

DR1 – 2285

Turkey, Balkan Peninsula see Islamic Studies and Slavic and East European Studies Polices

 

 

 

 

 

 

EASTERN EUROPE

see Slavic and East European Studies

 

 

 

 

 

 

MIDDLE EAST

see Islamic Studies Collection Policy

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASIA

 

 

 

DS401-498.7

South Asia

2

 

DS463-480.83

   English rule, 1761-1947

3a

 

 

South East Asia(see, Islamic Studies policy, South East Asia policy

 

 

DS701 – 937

China, Japan and Korea, see, East Asian Studies Collection policy

 

 

AFRICA

 

 

 

DT385 - 469

East Africa

3a

3b

 

North Africa see Islamic Studies collection policy

 

 

DT491 – 995

West Africa

3a

 

DT521 – 582

French West Africa

3b

DT730 – 990

South Africa

3a

 

 

 

 

 

DU1-DU950

OCEANIA

3a

3b

 

 

 

 

NORTH  AMERICA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E151 - 839

United States of America

3b

 

E186 - 199

   Colonial History, 1607-1775

3b

 

E201 - 298

   The Revolution, 1775-1783

3b

 

E301 - 302.6

   Revolution to the Civil War, 1175/1783-1861

3b

 

E456 - 655

   Civil War period, 1861-1865

4

 

E766 - 783

   Wilson's Administration, 1913-1921

3b

 

E806 - 812

   F.D.Roosevelt's Administration, 1933-1945

4

 

E813 - 816

   Truman's Administration

4

 

E835 - 839

   Eisenhower's Administration, 1953-1960

4

 

E841 - 843

   Kennedy's Administration, 1960-1963

4

 

E846 - 851

   Johnson's Adminstration,1963-1968

4

 

F1 - 975

   United States - Local History

3a

 

 

 

 

 

F5000

Canada see Canadiana policy

4b

 

 

 

 

 

LATIN AMERICA -

SPANISH AMERICA

 

 

 

 

 

 

F1201 - 1392

   Mexico

3b

 

F1421 - 1577

   Central America

3b

 

F1601 - 2175

   West Indies

3a

 

F2251 - 2299

   Colombia

3b

 

F2301 - 2349

   Venezuela

2

 

F2351 - 2471

   Guiana

2

 

F2501 - 2659

   Brazil

3a

 

F2801 - 3021

   Argentina

3a

 


Co-operation and Co-ordination
McLennan Reference Department: Recommendations for the purchase of reference materials are forwarded to the Department.
Canadiana: Canadian history is presently selected according to the guidelines set out in the Canadiana Policy.
East Asian Studies: The liaison librarian collects history of China, Japan and to a lesser extent Korea, in the vernacular.
Economics: Economic history and business history from 1960 are covered by the Economics Liaison Librarian.
Geography: The Geography Liaison Librarian collects historical geography and cartography materials. Travels exploration and topography overlap and require consultation.
Islamic Studies Library collects broadly at a research level on the history and culture of Islam which includes the Middle East, North Africa, and Indonesia.
Jewish Studies: The liaison librarian collects materials dealing with the history of the Jews throughout the world.
Nahum Gelber Law Library collects legal texts, manuals, codes, histories, case studies, etc. which support research in Canadian, American, British and European history.
Osler Library collects materials in the Social Studies of Medicine, an interdisciplinary teaching and research unit whose graduate program is jointly administered by the Departments of History, Anthropology, and Sociology.
Political Science: The liaison librarian collects in the fields of contemporary history (1968- ), political thought and theory.
Religious Studies: The Religious Studies Liaison Librarian. The Religious Studies Liaison Librarian concentrates on titles of significance to the religious aspects of Reformation history, especially that concerning the British Isles, Germany, France, and to a lesser extent, the Low Countries and Switzerland (level 4).
Slavic and East European Studies: Works dealing specifically with Russian or East European thinkers or movements are selected by the Russian and East European Studies Liaison.
Walter Hitschfeld Geographic Information Centre collects maps and atlases suitable for contemporary history.
Macdonald Campus Library collects in agricultural history, economics, and commerce.
Descriptions of the Collection:
Bell, Allan, "Munificent, Wise and Thoughtful Gifts: Grace and Peter Redpath and the Redpath Tracts," Fontanus VI (1993) 45-67.
Cohen, Martin, "The Redpath Family and the McGill Libraries Collections, " Fontanus VI, (1993), 143-147.
Maloney, Elizabeth. A Survey of Historical Collections at McGill University. Montreal: Heritage Advisory Committee, McGill University, 2003.
Toomey, Kathleen. Lincoln North: a catalogue of the Nathanson Lincolniana Pamphlet Collection. Montreal: McGill University Libraries, 2002.
Toomey, Kathleen. Lincoln North: An Exhibition drawn from the Nathanson Collection of Lincolniana… Montreal: Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill Universities Libraries, 2002. 30 pp. illus.

Policy last reviewed by Phyllis Rudin, History Liaison Librarian, May, 2008

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