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Rare Books & Special Collections

John W. Graham Library’s main collection of rare books relate to theological history, with a particular emphasis on the development of Anglicanism. We also have notable collections related to Churchill, G8/G20 and the collector and bibliophile J. Kemp Waldie. As well, Graham Library holds bibliographic material relevant to Trinity College’s history, such as the SPCK and Strachan Collections.

Accessing Rare Books & Special Collections Material

All rare books and special collections material is non-circulating and can be viewed between 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday.

To ensure the material is available when you require it, please submit a request at minimum one day in advance by email at ask.grahamlibrary@utoronto.ca, by phone 416-978-5851 or in person with the following information:

  • Call number and title of the item
  • If applicable: volume/item number if material requested is part of a multivolume set
  • Date and time you would like to use the material
  • Your contact details so we can confirm when your request can be accommodated

Required Identification

Everyone submitting a request to view rare or special materials must provide photo identification, such as your TCard or equivalent student/faculty card from another educational institute; for individuals not affiliated with an educational institute, a driver’s license or other photo ID will be accepted.

Use Restrictions

  • When viewing rare books or special collections material, you may use a soft pencil or laptop in the reading room. Pens, water bottles, jackets and bags are not permitted and will be stored in the library office.
  • You may request to view multiple items, but you may only view one at a time. If you have a special requirement to examine items simultaneously this may be arranged on a case-by-case basis.
  • No photocopying of materials.

Photography may be permitted pending approval from library staff.

Rare Books General Collection

SPCK Collection

In 1827, Bishop John Strachan secured a royal charter to establish the University of King’s College as an avowedly Anglican institution of higher education in Upper Canada. While in England he also obtained promises of grants of 500 pounds each from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) to assist in the formation of a Divinity Graham Library for his fledgling colonial university. The SPCK books, served as an important part of the working collection of the Trinity Graham Library for more than a century.

Strachan collection

John Strachan, first Bishop of Toronto and founder of the University of Toronto and of Trinity College, made two substantial gifts to the Trinity College Graham Library, the first comprising 600 books in 1853, shortly after the founding of the College, and the last as a bequest of his 3,000-volume library at his death in December 1867. For a century or longer these books remained in the circulating collection of the College Graham Library

Churchill Collection

The Graham Library’s Churchill Collection was established with a gift from the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy in 1995 and has since been enriched with a major donation from the collection of the late F. Bartlett Watt.¬†Books, pamphlets, translations, ephemera, letters and related items, including memorabilia that belonged to Churchill’s bodyguard, W. H. Thompson, are included.

Richard Hooker Collection

Speed Hill’s definitive collection of the works of the first great Anglican theologian, Richard Hooker (1554-1600), was acquired by the Graham Library in 2003, through the generosity of¬†Speed Hill, general editor of the Folger Edition of the Works of Richard Hooker, and of David and Mary Neelands.

Upjohn Waldie Collection

The Upjohn Waldie Collection encompasses a range of rare materials including incunabula such as Hypnerotomachia Polyphili (1499) to an important subcollection of the works of Eric Gill (1882-1940), who has been deemed the greatest artist-craftsman of the last century.

G8 Collection

The G8/G20 Research Collection in the Graham Library includes materials in various media emanating from the G7/G8 and G20 economic summits of major industrialized, democratic countries and from associated ministerial and other meetings, as well as analytical material produced by the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto.