Michael Treadwell Rare Books


Special Collections Room


The Archives has responsibility for Special Collections and Rare Books as well as for historical manuscripts. See the policy mandate. These materials do not circulate but are retrieved by staff from closed stacks for consultation in the Archives Reading Room or in the Michael Treadwell Rare Books and Special Collections Room. The Collection currently consists of over 10,000 items and most are catalogued in TOPCAT, the Bata Library online catalogue.

BIBLIOGRAPHIES: Librarian Janice Millard has created a number of subject bibliographies which researchers will find useful:

The North: The holdings are very strong in books about the North and Northern exploration. Many are rare and some may be unique. The bibliography serves as an excellent resource which brings together all the items relating to the North. See also a link to a list of selected Northern archival resources which are related to some of these books.

Canadian Literature: The Trent Library has significant holdings of Canadian literature; many items are located in Special Collections. Click here to see a bibliography. The list includes books in the Robertson Davies Collection which were donated by Hugh Anson-Cartwright. Many are autographed and rare editions of Davies books, and copies of Davies books dedicated by him to personal friends and acquaintances; they complement the Davies letters and photographs located in the archival holdings. We also focus on private press editions of poetry; our substantial collection of Ryerson Chap Book Series books is listed in the bibliography.

Local and Regional Published Material: Those interested in researching the Peterborough and Trent Valley areas will find this bibliography useful. These materials are all located in Special Collections and complement the manuscript holdings located in the Archives.


There are other important literary collections interspersed throughout Special Collections, including Melville and Twain editions from the library of the late Professor Gordon Roper.

The Archives also maintains all theses written by Trent students in the graduate programs and selected fourth-year honours programs. These items are catalogued in TOPCAT.

In addition, books requested via the Inter-Library Loan system, which have been provided by lending libraries under special conditions, are made available in the Archives Reading Room.

A few examples from Trent's Special Collections are available.

Special Collections: Overview

  • Douglas Collection: Books on the North donated in 1963 by George M. Douglas, mining engineer and explorer of the Coppermine River.

  • Floyd Chalmers Collection: Consists of books on the arctic and rare books of early American explorers.

  • Canadiana books. Several early funds were established to collect general books in the area of Canadian history, geography and culture for the library: Messecar, Shell, Donner, Ray, etc. Most books purchased with these endowed funds are in the stacks but some are gradually being relocated to Special Collections.

  • A.J.M. Smith Collection: Canadian literary collection from the library of the poet and anthologist, Smith. Shelved in the Smith room and retrieved by archives staff for use in the Reading Room.

  • Holm Collection of children's books: Donated in 1982; British and American children's books published between 1850 and 1920; 300 volumes.

  • Hunter Collection: Canadiana; 558 monographs and 71 maps.

  • Seton Collection: All books, in several editions, written by Ernest Thompson Seton, acquired from Dee Seton.

  • Trent Collection: We try to acquire all books written about the Peterborough area, or written by Peterborough-area authors, including Trent faculty.

  • Charles Feinberg Collection. Over 300 monographs, pamphlets, off-prints and photographs of Walt Whitman. Many editions of Leaves of Grass.

  • Margaret Laurence Collection. Books from the personal library of Margaret Laurence located in the Michael Treadwell Rare Books and Special Collections Room. A bibliography of these books has been created by Librarian Janice Millard.

  • Camping Book Collection. Books relating to the youth camping movement.


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