Material Collections

Our collection areas include: Canadiana, rare books, history of science, children’s literature, maps, broadsides, posters, newspapers, pamphlets, and sheet music. Highlights from the collection include John Buchan's library, Robertson Davies' library, the Edith and Lorne Pierce Collection of Canadiana, the Riche-Covington radio astronomy collection, and the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection. The following is a list of our collections organized by area with our two largest areas listed first: Canadiana and Rare Books. Other areas are listed alphabetically. Enteries include links to a finding aid or digital collection when available.


We hold several Canadian authors' libraries or collections of their complete works. Please see Author's Collections for a full list.

Rare Books

  • Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection
    The Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection focuses on history and culture of the16th through 18th centuries. There are also fine examples of books on other topics including Canadiana, travel and exploration, and more modern publications. Many works in the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection are also notable for their illustrations and maps. View the collection online.
  • Dated Collection
    Books in this collection pre-date 1700.
  • Rare Book Collection
    Complementing the Dated Collection, these books are printed after 1700 and include many examples of contemporary bindings and prominent printers.
  • Bible Collection
    This collection contains a number of versions printed from 1491 to present in large and small formats. 
  • Mitchell Gift
    The original six volumes donated to Queen's in 1840 by Judge James Mitchell, M.A. are still in the Jordan Library collection.
  • St. Mary's Cathedral Library Collection
    The St. Mary’s Cathedral Library numbers around 6,000 volumes, and contains a rich variety of Catholic religious texts and secular titles.
  • Vogelzang/Fore-edge Paintings Collection
    We hold almost 40 examples of fore-edge paintings. The majority of this collection was donated by Peter J. Vogelzang.
  • Alexander Watt Collection
    The Watt Collection consists of books about theosophy, occult, and related topics. This material was originally collected by Alexander Watt.

Author's Collections

British and Anglo-Irish Collections

  • Cuala Press
    The Cuala Press was founded in 1903 by Elizabeth and Lily Yeats. The Press published works by W.B. Yeats, J.M Synge and Katharine Tynan, among others.
  • Dickens Collection
    A comprehensive collection of Dickens' works in novel and serial format.
  • Macdonell Collection
    The Macdonell Collection contains Bishop Alexander's Library. The main areas are religion, Irish history, classics, literature, world history, & travel.
  • Macgillivray Collection
    The collection is mostly 19th-century Scottish history, including the study of heraldry, tartans, clans, costumes and military history.

Broadsides and Posters

  • Broadside/Poster Collection
    Thousands of broadsides and posters covering a variety of topics and time periods.
  • Chinese Posters
    The Chinese Poster collection includes numerous posters from the Chinese Culutral Revolution.

Children's Literature


Special Collections has a large map collection. Our rare and historical maps include Kingston, Canada, North America and the world.

Music and Culture


Special Collections holds a comprehensive collection of Canadian, particularly Kingstonian, newspapers, journals, and almanacks.



  • Riche-Covington Collection
    A pioneer in radio astronomy, Arthur Covington’s library and collection cover radio astronomy, the history of optics, and the scientific method.
  • McNicol Collection
    The collection contains books, pamphlets, journals and archival resources on the experimental history and development of the telegraphic, telephonic and radio sciences.
  • Jeannie and Vero Wynne-Edwards Collection
    The Jeannie and Vero Wynne-Edwards Collection consists of over 1800 books, pamphlets, periodical, and ephemeral pieces in the field of natural history.

Other collections

  • Ephemera
    Other non-book publications, objects, and furniture held in Special Collections.
  • Reference
    Special Collections holds an extensive reference collection that supports bibliographic study and genealogy research.

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