History of Ideas


The Sir William Dawson Pamphlet Collection was acquired in 1901 with the rest of his library. Dawson (1820-1899) was an eminent nineteenth-century geologist and Principal of McGill University (1854-1893). The collection consists of some 1762 items in thirty- one bound volumes and fifty-one pamphlet boxes. It includes offprints and pamphlets on scientific subjects a substantial number of which bear presentation inscriptions. Sixteen pamphlet boxes contain items by Dawson himself and one box material about him. There are a few letters bound in.

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Established in 1947, the collection was formed from the McGill library's existing holdings and by extensive purchases in the late 1940s and early 1950s under the supervision of philosophy Professor Raymond Klibansky and the University Librarian Richard Pennington. Other early contributors were the sometime McGill professors Dr. J.W.A. Hickson (philosophy) and Dr. C.W. Colby (history). The collection has been added to regularly and systematically. It includes first, early and variant editions and translations of works by David Hume; contemporary and modern criticism of Hume; and books from Hume's library. There are 546 monographs and 51 letters from Hume.

Description: Bruce Whiteman, "Recent Additions to the David Hume Collection", Fontanus IV (1991), 181-183.

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The collection was formed by the Danish Kierkegaard scholar Prof. Gregor Malantschuk and acquired in 1980. The collection now numbers some 1553 monographs and includes an almost complete set of first editions of Søren Kierkegaard's works and a reconstruction of his private library. A copy of the sale catalogue of his library is also part of the collection. As well, there is a collection of books in contemporary editions that Kierkegaard is assumed to have read, although they were not in his library; and a collection of books by his contemporaries that he might have read. Modern critical works on Kierkegaard complement the original works by Kierkegaard.

Description: Catalogue of the Gregor Malantschuk Søren Kierkegaard Collection in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Montreal: McGill University, 1984.

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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 140 first, early and variant editions of Rousseau's works, some modern editions and some 120 eighteenth- century (and later) commentaries and criticisms of Rousseau. There are eighteenth-century English translations and some examples of Rousseau apocrypha, notably editions of Letters of an Italian Nun including one eighteenth-century American edition. There are also a dozen autograph letters and a contemporary manuscript copy of "Jean Jacques Rousseau, Citoyen de Geneve, à Christophe de Beaumont, archevêque de Paris" dated 1763.

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The general rare book collection includes extensive holdings of the works of many of the writers associated with the Scottish Enlightenment; these complement the David Hume Collection. In addition, there are important holdings of the works of Athanasius Kircher, John Locke, John Brown (1715-1766, An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times, 1757 and later editions), Joseph Priestley (non-scientific writings), Emmanuel Kant and William Warburton among others. As well, there are significant holdings of seventeenth and eighteenth-century English theology and a large collection of Bibles in various languages including two copies of the Walton Polyglot (1657). The papers of the McGill- educated psychologist Abraham Aaron Roback (1890-1965) are held in the Manuscript Collection. While not extensive, the papers do include correspondence with such figures as Albert Schweitzer, Thomas Mann, Havelock Ellis, Theodor Heuss and Werner Jaeger.

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Last modified 97/4/25.