The Indic manuscripts cover a variety of languages and traditions of India and Southeast Asia. There are approximately two hundred texts in Sanskrit, Pali and other languages. Both Hindu and Buddhist religious texts are represented as well as some secular texts. Almost half of the collection is composed of palm leaf manuscripts (olas).
The cookbook collection was formed in the late 1960s and concentrates on Canadian, American and British material. It now contains over 1700 titles. The core of the collection is primarily twentieth-century material, but there are significant nineteenth-century holdings including a long run of editions and revisions of Mrs. Beaton's Book of Household Management (first published in 1859). As well, there are a few eighteenth century books.
The collection holds a number of interesting Italian manuscripts from the late fifteenth to the early nineteenth centuries. These include literary, historical and theological works and some archival material (primarily of the sixteenth century).
The children's books collection is composed of some 3,000 volumes. While these are primarily nineteenth- and twentieth-century books, there is a small number of eighteenth-century items. The collection encompasses a wide diversity of material including alphabets, fiction, poetry, education, science, annuals, moral instruction and examples of horn books. There is a long run of variant issues and editions of the books of G.A Henty. The collection also includes some 342 Soviet children's books from the 1920s to the 1940s that are of particular interest for their graphic design.
The Rare Books Collection (now housed in Rare Books and Special Collections, McLennan-Redpath Building, 4th floor) contains many early printed books and lithographs, as well as 226 volumes of manuscripts. Among the early printed books published in Europe there are at least six dating from the 16th century, 36 titles printed in the 17th century and some 144 from the 18th century.
The 52 titles in this collection include many first and early editions of Burton's works. A number of the volumes have the bookplate of the Canadian financier Sir George Stephen, Bart (Lord Mount Stephen, 1829-1921). Other titles and editions of Burton's works are in the general rare book collection.
Records for the holdings are in the McGill Library on-line catalogue.
The Islamic manuscripts fall into three groups: Arabic, Persian and Turkish. The Arabic manuscripts, some thirty-three codices, are mostly Korans and tracts on Sufiism and Shiite sects. In addition, there is a collection of over two hundred pieces of Arabic calligraphy. There are some thirty-five Persian codices, primarily poetry, and about a hundred separate leaves, many containing miniature paintings. Among the latter is one leaf dated to the thirteenth century and a leaf from the Demotte "Shahnama", c. 1350.
The collection holds three large archives of British political papers and a number of smaller collections and single manuscripts covering the period from the late Middle Ages to the early twentieth century. Some of these materials are copies of official documents and others are private papers, and there are a number of interesting eighteenth-century collectanea containing material from earlier periods.
The collection of the American designer, illustrator and author Edward Gorey (1925-2000) consists of books by and/or illustrated by him. The books, of which there are eighty-eight volumes, are mostly first editions and date from the period ca 1950 to 1980. As well, there is a small body of ephemera including book jackets by and articles about Gorey.
The collection was established ca 1969. It includes examples of the wood engravings of Thomas and John Bewick of Newcastle, England, from the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Both monographs (89) illustrated by them and scrapbooks of examples of their work are present. Of particular interest is the recently acquired 1826 edition of A History of British Birds. It is heavily annotated throughout, with notes on the impression of the plates, the descriptions of the birds and the order of the entries on almost every page.
The collection's holdings of English literary papers are diverse. The earliest item is four leaves from a fifteenth-century copy of John Lydgate's translation of Boccaccio's The Fall of Princes. The rest of the material is of a much later date, primarily of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Poetry, including some anonymous collectanea, is especially well represented. For example, there is an interesting early eighteenth-century manuscript containing a version of Yarico to Inkle: An Epistle attributed to Edward Moore.
Rodolphe Joubert donated his collection to the library in 1979. It consists of over 3000 books, pamphlets and periodicals, almost entirely in French. The collection documents the history of Quebec mainly from the 1860s to the 1970s and includes material on French Canadian politics, economics and cultural life. There are some eighteenth-century items as well. Of particular note are the Quebec parish histories. Records for the holdings are in the McGill Library on-line catalogue.
This collection was acquired in 1969. The collection comprises some 687 items dating from the 1920s to the 1960s. Much of the material is from the United States including a long run of pamphlets by the American Communist Earl Browder. Other material comes from China, the former Soviet Union (including a series of pamphlets by Joseph Stalin), India and other countries. There are numerous reports of Communist Party meetings from various countries. All of the material is in English.
The Print Collection includes approximately 1000 Canadian prints. Historical prints include Hervey Smyth's Six Views of the Most Remarkable Places of the Gulf and Rivers St. Lawrence (published in 1760), Richard Short's Twelve Views of the Principal Buildings in Quebec... (1761), a hand-coloured set of twenty-three lithographs, Sketches in the Canadas, (1840) after drawings by Coke Smyth, and a set of four Montreal street scenes, drawn by John Murray and engraved and published by Adolphus Bourne in the early 1840s.
A representative selection of the papers of nineteenth and twentieth century Canadian authors is held among the private papers and archives. This material includes single items, small bodies of private papers and a number of large archives for both major and minor figures. The holdings are particularly strong in poetry.
The holdings of private papers and archives relevant to Canadian history are extensive. They can be grouped under a number of subjects: the fur trade and early business papers, family papers, politics etc.
The approximately 3,750 historical prints concerning Napoleon and his era include numerous portraits of Napoleon, members of his family, and generals and other associates, scenes of military and political events, caricatures, and allegorical representations. Scenes glorifying Napoleon and his soldiers by some of the most important French printmakers of the Napoleonic Era, artists such as Vernet, Charlet, Géricault, and Raffet, are well represented.
The collection was established in 1954 based on the several hundred books of typographical interest given in the 1940s and 1950s to the library by William George Colgate of Toronto. The collection is noted for its extensive holdings on the history and technique of printing; calligraphy and letter forms; design of typefaces and typographical productions; type founding and type founders' specimens and printers' manuals and handbooks, including those for colour printing and paper making.
The collection was formed by the Montreal book collector Norman H. Friedman and given to McGill in 1946. It includes some 450 first, early, signed and variant editions of books by Morley (1890-1957) and books to which he contributed.
The first accession of the library of the Canadian poet and lawyer F.R. Scott (1899-1985) came in 1988, the gift of Mrs. Marian Scott. The library contains volumes of Canadian (English and French), American and English poetry from the 1920s to the 1980s, and much fiction, belles-lettres, non-Canadian literature, and books on political and social issues. The second accession of books, mainly on English literature and politics, was received in 1994. Included are Marianne Moore's Poems (1921, her first book), many titles by T.S. Eliot, W.H.
The Hannah More collection includes many early and later editions of this English religious writer's more important works on education and morals as well as many of the minor items such as plays and poetry. There is a run of thirty-five of the first printing of Cheap Repository Tracts, sixteen of which are by More (1745-1833) as well as a prospectus for the Tracts and later printings of the Tracts.
The Rousseau Collection was formed in the early 1950s from material already in the McGill library and from new acquisitions. It was created as a complement to the David Hume Collection. The collection now comprises some 254 first, early and variant editions of Rousseau's works and contemporary criticism and responses before 1801. As well, there many early nineteenth-century collected editions and other works and there later editions and criticisms and responses.
The Rilke collection was formed in the late 1950s. The collection comprises some 300 titles and includes fiction, drama, poetry, letters and other prose pieces by the Austrian poet (1875-1926). There are many first and limited editions, as well as later and collected editions. Many of Rilke's works appear in translations, primarily in English and French, although there are Italian, Japanese and Chinese translations of some of the works. A number of bilingual editions (German/English; German/French) are also present.
The William Butler Yeats collection is composed of first, early and variant editions of most his writings, some eighty-six volumes in all. There is some criticism and a few books by his son Jack Butler Yeats. The Yeats material is complemented by a selection of material in the Colgate History of Printing Collection published by the Cuala Press.
The Norman Friedman Boy Scout Collection was given to the library by its creator in 1946. Norman H. Friedman was not only a Montreal book collector but also was very active as an adult leader in the scouting movement. The collection contains some 341 titles in 830 volumes including short runs of serials. The material is almost exclusively British and Canadian and dates before 1950. Many of the items are of an ephemeral or pamphlet nature, but there is a copy of the first edition, in parts, of Scouting for Boys (1908) as well as later editions.
The C.P. Snow collection was given to the library in 1987 by its creator Brian Coleman of Vancouver. The collection of some sixty-seven volumes includes both first and later editions of Snow, both fiction and non-fiction. There is an uncorrected proof copy of The Malcontents and a number of autographed copies. Eighty percent have their dust jackets.
Records for the holdings are in the McGill Library on-line catalogue.
This collection, purchased in 1976 by the Comparative Literature programme at McGill, comprises some 1083 volumes of twentieth century western and cowboy fiction. The collection includes runs of the works of B.M. Bower (Bertha Muzzy Sinclair), Max Brand (Frederick Faust), Zane Grey and William MacLeod Raine. Most of the titles are early editions, but a few are later printings by such firms as Grosset & Dunlap. All but two of the volumes are cloth bound and more that sixty percent have their dust-jackets.
Rare Books has extensive holdings of eighteenth, nineteenth and twenty-century English language theatre. The seventy-seven volumes assembled by Sir John C. Hobhouse (1786-1869), the friend of Byron, contain some 480 play scripts, 1711-1818. The collection was assembled by Adam de Cardonnel-Lawson (d. 1820) antiquary or possibly by his son of the same name (d. 1838) whose name is inscribed on many title pages. Many of the volumes have contemporary clippings inserted. These volumes were acquired in 1921.
The Roy States collection was donated by his estate in 1981. States, a long-time employee of McGill University, was concerned both with documenting the Black experience and providing a positive image for Black youth. To this end, he gathered together a body of diverse materials concerning Afro-American history. The collection of some 1,200 items includes monographs, newspapers, off-prints, articles and some photographs. While much of the material relates to North America in general, there is material relating to Canada and Montreal.
Established ca 1900, the collection has as its nucleus forty volumes of political pamphlets gathered by Sir John Bramston, M.P. (1611-1700). To this core, acquired by Mrs. Peter Redpath of Montreal in 1901, were added a series of tracts given by her husband, the Montreal businessman and philanthropist, Peter Redpath in 1880 and another series given by Mrs. Redpath in 1903. Extensive additions have been made since.