Major Collections at the
University of Guelph Archives
and Special Collections
In addition to the Scottish Studies Collection, the University of Guelph Archives is home to six other major collections including Culinary, Theatre, Landscape Architecture, Agricultural History and Rural Heritage, Lucy Maud Montgomery as well as a Rare Book collection.
The Scottish Collection and Archives
The largest collection of Scottish documents outside the United Kingdom, the University of Guelph's Scottish collection attracts scholars from around the world to explore the wide variety of original documents, letters, illustrations and photographs. Organizations such as the Scottish Studies Foundation in Toronto have also contributed documents, knowing that they will be appropriately cared for in the Archives and made accessible to researchers. Students in the History department's renowned Scottish Studies program frequently use this collection for both course work and thesis research.
The Culinary Collections in Archival and Special Collections feature an impressive variety of book as well as some manuscript materials. The book collections number over 17,000 volumes, some of which data back to the 17th century. There are six major collections: the Una Abrahamson Collection, the Helen Gagen Collection, the Edna Staebler Collection, the Jean Pare Collection, the Marie Nightingale Collection and the Canadian cookbook Collection. The first five of these include publications from all parts of the world; the latter collection focuses specifically on the development of cookery in Canada.
Our culinary collections are a valuable historical and sociological resource for understanding food habits, nutritional ideas, medical remedies, social customs, and scientific and technological progress. They reveal aspects of daily life and provide evidence of the transformations occurring in society; for example, multicultural contributions and the changing roles of women. Early cookbooks (or 'receipt book") often featured separate sections on cookery, medicine, and household matters. As a result, the receipt book was used in ministering to family household needs and providing advice for maintaining homes and arrangements for food. Modern culinary works continue these traits but are usually more specialized. They are also a delight for book lovers who have their own favourite cookbooks.
Landscape Architecture and Stanley Thompson Collections
Interested in seeing the original plan for Toronto's Don Mills subdivision, or the design for the elaborate gardens at Samuel McLaughlin's home? Would you like to check out the original plans for some of the University of Guelph buildings and gardens? All of these designs are, among many others, stored in the University of Guelph's Landscape Architecture Collection and available to both researchers and curious visitors.
Canada has produced some outstanding Landscape Architects who have been invited to design private and public properties across the country and around the world, and several have made generous donations to the growing University of Guelph archives.
The L.W. Conolly Theatre Archives
As early as 1969 the University of Guelph Library has assembled theatre collections, but it was with the acquisition of the Shaw Festival's archives in 1983 that the momentum picked up. Since then, the Library's commitment has grown significantly year over year to the point that it has become the largest archives in Canada devoted to Canadian theatre and Bernard Shaw-related materials. It is unsurpassed in the depth of its coverage of modern Ontario theatre companies as well as individual administrators, playwrights, actors and directors, and designers active in Ontario theatre life.
It is not possible to discuss the current collection without drawing reference to the significant indeed the extraordinary, role played by Dr. Leonard Conolly, after whom the collection has been named. Under his leadership as Chair of the University's Drama Department in the 1980s, contacts and discussions with significant Ontario theatres, such as Phoenix and Tarragon in Toronto and the Grand in London, soon led to their boards agreeing to donate what was then a precious but endangered cultural heritage for Canadian drama and theatre. This rich and varied collection, now known as The L.W. Conolly Theatre Archives, has become a major resource used by Guelph faculty and students, by many researchers in Canada, and indeed by scholars from around the world.
Agricultural History and Rural Heritage
The Agricultural History and Rural Heritage section of Archival and Special Collections is a rich resource for items of agricultural interest. The agricultural history collection dates to the beginning of the Ontario Agricultural College in 1874. This section contains such components as farm business papers, equipment and sales brochures, manuscripts, correspondence and books relating to agriculturalists who were not connected to the Ontario Agricultural College.
This section also strongly reflects our extensive Apiculture Collection and the Rural Heritage Collections that features the Massey-Harries-Ferguson Collection. It records the history of agricultural collectives in Ontario, information crucial to understanding the annals of rural farming and communities in our province. The agricultural implement industry across Canada is extensively documented. The collections are diverse, and move from items of national significance to small, personal collections. Rare items are included and date to the 16th century with strengths in the practice of agriculture, crops, and agricultural technology.
In 1999 the collections from the Ontario Agricultural Museum library in Milton were transferred to Guelph. These holdings are a rich source for social and economic history in southern Ontario and some collections, such as Massey-Harris-Ferguson, are very extensive and have important national aspects.
The Lucy Maud Montgomery Collection
Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942), author of Anne of Green Gables (published in 1908) and many other books, created such vivid characters that they are beloved around the world. (In fact, they've travelled even further; in 2009, Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk brought a copy of Anne with him on his six-month mission to the International Space Station). Because of this broad appeal, the University of Guelph's Lucy Maud Montgomery Collections contains the most frequently accessed archival materials, particularly by internal students and researchers.
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