Book Collections

Special Collections holds a variety of book collections grouped according to donator, collector, subject area or time period. They date from the 15th century right up to the present day and cover such topics as history, literature, language, politics, science, religion, theology and philosophy.

The majority of books are held in our secure Store and should be requested on arrival. Readers are advised to check the catalogue or below lists for author, title and classmark details. Reference books and current issues of journals are located in the Special Collections Reading Room.

The following book collections, whose individual titles are available on the Library Catalogue, have yet to be added to the directory below: Early Economics Collection; Moore Collection; Queen's Staff Collection; Ross-Rosenzweig Collection; Special Publications/ Limited Editions. Please contact Special Collections if you would like information about them as collections.

Library of the great Scottish economist Adam Smith

Adam Smith Collection

Click here for a full listing of the Adam Smith Collection.  **Not on Library Catalogue**

General collection of monographs etc from the surviving personal library of the 18th century philosopher and economic theorist, Adam Smith (1723-90). The majority of titles relate principally to Greek and Latin classics and date mostly from the 18th century. 

The collection does, however, include a number of early works from the 16th and 17th centuries, of which can be found some particularly fine bindings. Notable items include a 1546 edition of the Marsilius Ficinus translation of Plato and four folio volumes of Aristotle's complete works, c 1728. The collection also includes a few additional items of more recent date (19th century) acquired by Smith's descendants.

Collection Level Description available on RASCAL.

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Theological, philosophical & literary works

Antrim Presbytery Collection

Click here for a full listing of the Antrim Presbytery Collection.  **Not on Library Catalogue**

Collection of theological, philosophical and literary works ranging from the 16th to 18th centuries, maintained and accumulated by the Presbyterian congregations in Belfast and Antrim, 1765-1873, for the purposes of local intellectuals and Presbyterian ministers. 

In addition to items on theology, philosophy and religion, the collection is notable for its material on the classics, civil and ecclesiastical history and politics. The majority of these titles date from before 1800. Items of later date (19th century) include mainly published sermons and addresses produced locally.

Collection Level Description available on RASCAL. 

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Street directories for Belfast and Northern Ireland

Belfast & Northern Ireland Directories

Access the Belfast Directories catalogue entry here. 

A useful family history resource, our collection of Belfast and Northern Ireland Directories begins in 1865 and ends in 1995. As detailed on the catogue there are some missing issues. As well as containing names of individuals and businesses they contain numerous business advertisements. Most directories have details for Belfast and for the principal towns and villages in Ulster.


Historic library from the Belfast Medical Society

Belfast Medical Library

Click here for a full listing of the Belfast Medical Library. **Not on Library Catalogue**

The Belfast Medical Society (1806-1818 & 1822-1862) had established a lending library for its member by 1826. The complete collection of its 16th and 17th century works on medicine were presented to Queen's University in 1915 and 1916. They were originally housed in the Medical Library but were transferred to Special Collections in 2009. The present collection also contains medical books from the 18th and 19th century.


Published works from the library of Cardinal Cahal Daly

Daly Collection

Access the catalogued Daly Collection here. All Daly Collection books contain the prefix Daly/ in the classmark.

Cardinal Cahal Daly (1917-2009) bequeathed his entire personal library to Queen's in 2009. It is a collection of ten thousand books, journals and pamphlets, mostly of theological, philosophical, and Irish historical and cultural interest.

The Cardinal Daly Seminar Room on the First Floor of the McClay Library also contains a bust of Cardinal Daly and four Charles McAuley oil paintings also kindly donated by him. 

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Collection of works by Professor David Beers Quinn

David Beers Quinn Collection

Click here for a full listing of the David Beers Quinn Collection. **Not on Library Catalogue**

A collection of material written or edited by the renowned historian Professor David Beers Quinn (1909-2002). It includes monographs, journal articles, book chapters, lectures and conference papers concerning topics such as exploration, discovery, colonisation and Irish history. The materials were generously donated by the Quinn family.

Image provided courtesy of the Victoria Gallery & Museum, University of Liverpool. Original portrait painted by Andrew Ratcliffe.


Pre 1700 books

Early Printed Books Collection

All Early Printed Books have been catalogued and are denoted by the prefix y in the classmark.

Collection of 16th and 17th century books and pamphlets, including facsimilies. An extensive collection of early works, it contains in excess of 3700 items, including 20 incunabula (i.e. printed before 1500), 267 STC and 1430 Wing items, relating to a wide range of subject areas reflecting the interests and pre-occupations of writers of this period.

Included can be found general works and early editions of titles concering the classics, history, religion and the Church (both Protestant and Roman Catholics), politics, law and government. Of particular interest are the titles acquired by the University under the British Library's Background Materials Scheme for the periods 1625-34 and (latterly) 1650-59. Pamphlets and other titles dealing with and commenting on personalities and events leading up to the civil war (1645-49) and during the interregnum are therefore prominent. Works of Irish interest from this period can also be found with materials concerning, for example, the Siege of Derry, 1690, the Irish Parliament and the 1641 rebellion, well represented. The collection also includes a comprehensive series of facsimilies taken from 'The English Experience, its Record in Early Printed Books.'

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18th century books, journals and pamphlets

Eighteenth Century Book Collection

The Eighteenth Century Book Collection has been fully catalogued and books within contain the prefix w in the classmark.

General collection of 18th century books and pamphlets. The collection relates to a wide variety of subject areas representative of the interests and pre-occupatons of writers of this period and the collecting concerns of QUB library. History, politics, religion, language and literature are all well representated within.

One particular collection of note concerns the series of pamphlets maintained by the Irish politician and statesman, John Foster (1740-1828), best known as the last Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. These pamphlets convey a unique sense of the political life, arguments and events that shaped eighteenth century Ireland, in particular leading up to the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. The collection is also strong in titles by the poet Allan Ramsay (1686-1758) formerly collected by Andrew Gibson (fl. 1904-27) of Belfast, a former Governor of the Belfast Library and Society for Promoting Knowledge.

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18th century pamphlets compiled by John Foster

Foster Pamphlets

Access the catalogued Foster pamphlets here. All Foster Pamphlets contain the classmark w DA943. 

Collection of 18th century pamphlets, magazines and reports etc. compiled by John Foster, Baron Oriel (1740-1828), last Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. An important and unique assemblage of materials, the collection was assembled by Foster during his years of high political office in both the Irish and British Houses of parliament.

The main focus of the collection concerns the major political pre-occupations of the day, including Parliamentary Reform, Catholic Relief, trade and manufacture, the Act of Union and the state of the Irish nation. Economic affairs is, however, a particular strength of the collection reflecting Foster's own political priorities and interests (he saw economic prosperity as a cure for Irish discontent) with material on the relief of the poor, banking and coinage, agriculture and industry, taxation and tithes all well represented. In addition to political affairs in Ireland, commentary is also provided on the debates concerning the progress of the American War of Independence, the French Revolution and British politics in general. Social matters are also touched on with examples of 18th century poetry, satire and drama to be found throughout the collection. Primarily published in English and from printing houses across the British Isles, the pamphlets are bound into volumes and classified under such general headings as 'Politics', 'Agriculture', 'American States', 'Sermons', 'Tythes and Popery', 'Regency 1789' etc etc, as originally arranged by Foster during his lifetime. 

Collection Level Description available in RASCAL.

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Printed books from the Gibson-Massie Collection (MS 37)

Gibson Books

Click here for a full listing of the Gibson Books. **Not on Library Catalogue**

A small collection of books compiled by the prodigious Scottish book collector Andrew Gibson (1841-1931). The books generally concern Scottish songs and poetry from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Many are written by or concern Robert Burns. 


Musical scores by Sir Hamilton Harty

Harty Collection

Access the catalogued Harty Collection here. All Harty Collection books contain the prefix Harty/ in the classmark. 

A collection of published full and part scores to a range of orchestral and choral pieces composed or arranged by the composer and conductor Sir Hamilton Harty (1879-1941). The collection includes the following titles: Symphone in D (Irish), The Children of Lir, The Blue Hills of Antrim and A la Campagne for Oboe and Orchestra.


Irish Studies printed books, periodicals & pamphlets

Hibernica Collection (formerly Henry Collection)

All Hibernica Collection materials have been catalogued and are denoted by the prefix h in the classmark.

The Hibernica Collection is a substantial collection of monographs, periodicals and pamphlets of general Irish interest and/or origin, being strongest in history and literature.

Officially established in 1929 with a deposit of 1000 volumes from the personal library of R.M. Henry (Professor of Latin at Queen's, 1908-38), the collection is constantly growing and now represents the largest single subject division in Special Collections. It includes such treasures as the 3 Irish Bog Reports, a full set of Griffith's Valuations and comprehensive series of major Irish periodicals such as Irish Historical StudiesIrish Ecclesiastical Record and the James Joyce Quarterly. All subjects relating to Ireland and Northern Ireland are covered including, in particular, history, politics, literature, philology, economics, society and culture. 

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Literature collected by Professor Charles MacDouall

MacDouall Collection

Access the catalogued MacDouall Collection here. All MacDouall Collection books contain the prefix MacD in the classmark.

Collection of general literature, Sanskrit and comparative philology from the personal library of Charles MacDouall (1818-1883), first Professor of Latin at Queen's College, Belfast (1849-50) and second Professor of Greek (1850-78).

The collection includes material relating to Classical, Eastern and Middle Eastern languages, and comparative philology, principally from the first half of the 19th century. 

The collection also includes examples of tradtional folk talkes and ballads from a variety of countries, and numerous dictionaries, primers and other general works. 

Collection Level Description available in RASCAL. 

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Library of the Celtic scholar T. F. O'Rahilly

O'Rahilly Collection

Access the catalogued O'Rahilly Collection here. All O'Rahilly Collection books contain the prefix O'Rahilly/ in the classmark. 

A number of books collected and sometimes authored or annotated in by the distinguished Celtic Scholar, T.F. O'Rahilly (1883-1953). The main focus of the collection is Irish culture and language. It includes a number of texts which study the language, it's various dialects and grammar.

The texts are in Irish and English, many in old Irish script. There is also a focus on the history of Ireland, it's poetry and song, and ancient Irish folklore.

Scots Gaelic, Welsh and Breton are also featured in the collection. Topics in these books again range from ancient folklore, poetry and song to the study of these languages.

Authors include: T. F. O'Rahilly, James Hardiman, Rev. John Healy, Dr. Douglas Hyde, Tomás Ó Máille, Philip Bocht O Huigginn and Duncan MacIntyre. 

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Library of the author and antiquarian Thomas Percy

Percy Collection

Access the catalogued Percy Collection here. All Percy Collection books contain the prefix Percy or Percy Pamph. in the classmark.

The almost intact 18th century library of the author and antiquarian, Thomas Percy (1729-1811), Bishop of Dromore, Co. Down. Described at one time as the finest library in private hands in Ireland. 

The collection contains monographs, bound volumes of pamphlets and some manuscripts relating principally to English Literature (especially 16th and 17th century verse, Shakespearean controversies, ballad poetry), Gaelic and northern poetr and antiquities, and popular metrical and prose romances of Europe. 

The collection also reflects Percy's membership of Samuel Johnson's 'Literary Club' by including association or presentation copies from Johnson himself, Oliver Goldsmith, Edmond Malone, George Steevens, et al. Percy annotated his books extensively, one of the most interesting of which is a copy of the 3rd edition (1775) of his own work, 'The Reliques of Ancient English Poetry.' A unique item in the library is the earliest known English Gesta Romanorum (Deeds of the Romans), printed by Wynkyn de Worde during the early 16th century. 

Collection Level Description available on RASCAL. 

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Collection of early medical works

Simms Medical Collection

Access the catalogued Simms Collection here. All Simms Collection books contain the prefix Simm/ in the classmark.

Once described as one of the most selective and extensive of collections in private hands, the Simms Medical collection is an outstanding assemblage of works concerning the practice of medicine and medical history. It was collected by Dr. Samuel Simms (1896-1967) of Belfast.

It comprises a few 17th century medial texts, first and early editions of 18th, 19th and 20th century texts and monographs, in addition to works on the history of medicine and medical biography. Many of the titles included in the collection can be found listed in the Garrison and Morton Medical Bibliography (1983).

Click here to view the digital exhibition 'Samuel Simms Collection of Medical Texts'.

Collection Level Description available on RASCAL

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Texts concerning China & the Chinese Maritime Customs

Wright Collection

Access the catalogued Wright Collection here. All Wright Collection books contain the prefix Wright/ in the classmark.

Books and pamphlets compiled by Dr. Stanley Fowler Wright (1873-1953), Commissioner of Customs and Personal Secretary to the Inspector General of the Chinese Maritime Customs, Sir Robert Hart. The collection comprises a range of titles in Chinese, the focus of the English language titles is China and the Chinese Maritime Customs. Many official printed papers and reports are included as are copies of annotated Customs publication.

Also included is a copy of Wright's biography of Sir Robert Hart, 'Hart and the Chinese Customs' (Belfast, 1950).

A number of pamphlets from the Wright Collection have been digitised. Click here to access digitised Wright Collection pamphlets. 

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