Blog Archives

Black History Month at McGill Library

2023 marks the 7th annual celebration of Black History Month at McGill. Led by McGill’s Equity Office, “Black History Month at McGill brings together students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members through events held both in person and online. These …

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King Lear from Page to Stage: Shakespeare Lecture 2023

Paul Gross and Kimberley Rampersad leaning over a Rare Book.

A familial story of legacy, loyalty and loss, King Lear is perhaps Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy, and one of the greatest challenges he presents. On January 18, 2023, director Kimberley Rampersad and actor Paul Gross discussed their vision for the 2023 Stratford Festival …

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A rare toy theatre remix

Foregound: toy theatre from McGill's rare and special collections. background Rare Books Reading Room.

It’s a most magical time of year where the young and young at heart express gratitude, reflect on the year gone by, get in touch with family and friends, and celebrate the hope the new year brings. Once again, our …

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Year in Review: Most searched & borrowed titles of 2022

Did you know that Library’s electronic resources are available to you, 24/7 from anywhere in the world? Articles, e-books, e-journals, newspapers, databases – you name it, we probably have it and McGill students, faculty, and staff members have access to it all. …

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50 Years of Library Service (1924-1974): Martha McCallum in her own words

Redpath Library Building, circa 1950s/ McGill University Archives, PR037992

To ring out McGill’s Bicentennial, the Library is featuring an Unsung Hero of yore. On January 7th, 1974, Miss Martha McCallum, Gift and Exchange Clerk, celebrated her 50th anniversary as an employee of McGill University Libraries….Miss McCallum received a letter …

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The William Feindel Fonds: An archival processing story

The finding aid for the William Feindel fonds is now available on McGill Library’s Archival Collections Catalogue. The McGill University Archives (MUA) acquired the Canadian neurosurgeon’s archival collection in 2005 and several archivists have worked on the collection since its …

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New Findings on Thomas Chatterton

This past Summer Chris Jones travelled from Scotland to spend one month in the Reading Room to investigate several rare editions from the Rare Books stacks attributed to the young poet, Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770).  Professor Jones was the recipient of …

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Fashionable Northern Tours

Summer is the perfect time for a holiday get-away. Maybe you are in the midst of looking into various guides and maps to get to your perfect destination and make the most of it. Travellers of the nineteenth century did …

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“I fear our cypher is detected”: When agony ads go awry

The “FLO. Ciphers,” sent between September 1853 and January 1854, were a lovers’ correspondence that appeared in the Agony Column of “The Times”. Identifiable only by their addressee, the correspondence was the subject of much intrigue due to the unique numeric cipher in which it was written. The cipher was broken and later intercepted by Charles Babbage, a Victorian mathematician with a knack for code breaking. The ever-witty Babbage let the correspondents onto his discovery by correcting the grammar and spelling of one of their messages. Finding themselves exposed, the lovers ended their secret correspondence in haste.

By: Ronny Litvack-Katzman, Research Assistant, ROAAr At first glance, the Agony Column appears a perfect outlet for clandestine correspondences. Throughout the 19th-century, thousands of writers across the British Empire successfully sent and received cryptic messages through popular Victorian newspapers such …

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A Victorian-era funeral notice and the story behind it

Funeral notice featuring an illustration of a landscape with angels.

By Eden Autmezguine, 2nd year student, Faculty of Arts and Science and Student Project Assistant in Rare Books and Special Collections. Eden’s position is made possible thanks to funding from the SSMU Library Improvement Fund. Pictured above from the holdings …

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