Social and Cultural History


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 includes a large number of ephemeral items produced by flour mills, sugar refiners and manufacturers that include recipes. To the original collection have been added some 400 cookbooks collected by Vanna Garnier. Of particular importance are the large number of cookbooks produced by church organizations and women's clubs. Soeur Berthe Sansregret, longtime director of the cooking division of the Ecole supérieure des arts et métiers in Montreal, donated some 545 cookbooks dating from the 1940s to the 1980s.  Click Cookery Book Collection to go to the database.

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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 342 Soviet children's books from the 1920s to the 1940s that are of particular interest for their graphic design. This material was acquired in 1985 from a Russian expatriate living in New York City. The children's books collection is complemented by the Arthur Rackham Collection and holdings of material of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries treating moral instruction, in particular the works of Hannah More and of works on female education. As well the Palmer Cox Collection documents the work of an important North American children's book illustrator.

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The Lewis Reford Sporting Books Collection was acquired from the Reford family in 1950. The Reford family of Montreal was well known in the business community and also for its interest in sporting activities. The collection comprises some 272 books (including a few serials) on hunting, including fox hunting, fishing and racing primarily in Great Britain and North America but with some European material. There is a significant number of titles dealing with Canada. All of the material dates from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Many of the works by Nimrod are included in the collection and many of these have illustrations by Henry Alken. The addendum to the Reford Collection contains the James Donald Cleghorn mountaineering books acquired in 1984. These forty-four titles from the period 1900 to 1950 include material on the Himalayas, the Rockies and the Alps.

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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 collection also includes autograph letters from Sir Robert and Lady Baden-Powell.

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This collection was formed by the Canadian puppeteer Rosalynde Osborne Stearn to be a comprehensive library on the puppet theatre with representative examples of puppets characteristic of different periods and countries. The collection was given to the library in 1953. It includes some 2714 books and periodicals from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries on the puppet theatre in various European languages as well as scripts for puppet plays. There are puppets (171) from Europe, Asia (including shadow puppets), and the Americas, from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. Also included are toy theatres, theatrical portraits, paintings, prints and posters.

Description: The Rosalynde Stearn Puppet Collection. Montreal: McGill University Library, 1961.

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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 than sixty percent have their dustjackets.

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Last modified September 28, 2006.