Special collections

This page provides practical information about the material held by the Rare Books and Special Collections unit of the McGill Library.

Rare Books and Special Collections houses many thousands of items ranging from published works to puppets, and is especially renowned for its holdings related to Canadiana, the history of printing, natural history, Enlightenment philosophy, and architecture.

On this page, you will find descriptions of the various named collections found at Rare Books and Special Collections, in addition to a number of thematic guides. Please note that this site is a work in progress and we recommend contacting us if you’d like to know more about a particular collection or related material. Our contact details can be found within individual collection descriptions and on this page. Please also note that although we have placed collections into specific categories, we appreciate and encourage the potential diversity of usage that exists across disciplines and in a variety of contexts.

Additional to these named special collections is the Rare Books and Special Collections “main”, or general collection, which houses close to 100,000 published works representing a wide range of subject matters and print formats. Works in the main collection date from the 15th through to the 21st century and are printed in a variety of languages including French, German, Latin, Italian, Chinese, and Russian. Many of the works in the main collection are complementary to those housed within named special collections.

Browse by subject area:

Arts and Architecture

Archival Collections and Manuscripts


History of the Book

History of Ideas


Children's Literature Collection

Norman Friedman Collection

Canadian literature

F.R. Scott Library

Louis Dudek Collection

Ralph Gustafson Collection of Canadian Poetry

John and Myrna Metcalf Collection

Canadian writers’ archives

Canadian booksellers’ and publishers' archives

British literature

Norman Friedman Rudyard Kipling Collection

Hannah More Collection

Lawrence Lande William Blake Collection

Sir E.K. Chambers Shakespeare Collection

Sir Richard Burton Collection

Thomas Chatterton Collection

Walter de la Mare Collection

William Butler Yeats Collection

C.P. Snow Collection

English literature manuscripts

Malcolm Lowry Collection

French and German literature

Claude Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon (fils) Collection

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Collection

Voltaire Collection

18th century French literature

18th century French dictionaries

French history and literature manuscripts

Rainer Maria Rilke Collection

Jewish literature

Joe Fishstein Collection of Yiddish Poetry

Saul Shapiro Collection of Anglo-American Judaica

Popular literature

Western and Cowboy Fiction Collection

Popular fiction


Regional and Political History

Religious Studies

The Sciences

Social and Cultural History

Questions? Ask us!  Chat • Email • Text • Call            Send feedback    Report a problem

Back to top