The Napoleon collection was a particular interest of the University Librarian, Richard Pennington, (1947-1964) and was developed during his tenure. Beginning with a small donation of books and prints from the Canadian publisher Frederick Southam, the collection was assembled with the advice of Paul Fleuriot de Langle, curator of the Musée Marmottan in Paris and a specialist in Napoleon and the art of the Empire, and of the Parisian print dealer Paul Prouté. The collection comprises some 2,275 monographs, 3,500 prints (including 110 maps and plans), 200 pictorial documents, 50 broadsides, 350 pamphlets, 100 related printed documents such as declarations, proclamations and decrees, manuscript material and some realia. The collection covers all aspects of the Napoleonic era and the monographs are particularly rich in pre-1850 imprints. The Napoleon Prints are described as part of the Print Collection.

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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.

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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 the Montreal businessman and philanthropist Peter Redpath in 1880 and another series given by Mrs. Redpath in 1903. Extensive additions have been made since. The collection consists of some 20,000 tracts and pamphlets divided into nine series illustrating the religious, political, literary, scientific and social history of the British Isles from 1561 to 1900. Representative of the collection's contents are the extensive holdings on the Popish plots (1678-1700); twenty volumes of marine tracts (1703-1862); Scottish tracts (1751-1842); forty-two volumes of the Siemens scientific pamphlets and six volumes of tracts by William Prynne (1629-1668).

Description: Allan Bell, "Munificent, Wise and Thoughtful Gifts: Grace and Peter Redpath and the Redpath Tracts", Fontanus VI (1993), 45-67.

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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.

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The general rare book collection contains much of the Department's history material. The holdings for British history of the seventeenth century are particularly important including copies of John Rushworth's Historical Collections with interesting annotations (Description: Daniel German, John Wildman and Rushworth's Historical Collections: An Editor Identified?" Fontanus III (1990), 109-114), John Thurloe's Collection of State Papers, James Macpherson's Original Papers, David Hailes's Memorials and Letters and other late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries works. Many of these editions are part of the Redpath Historical Collection. Much of the French material concerns the Revolution and complements the Napoleon Collection . Italian material includes many eighteenth century works. Finally, there is some early material for Eastern Europe and Russia.

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Last modified 97/4/25.