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Special Collections: Canadian History

About This Collection

Thomas MurrayUniversity Librarian Neal Harlow with Thomas Murray Collection, 1958The Thomas Murray collection includes not only stock from his bookstore, the Bleury Book Store in Montreal, but also a number of rare items he had accumulated as a private collector. As the collection came up for sale, the University Librarian, Neal Harlow, discussed the benefits of acquisition with Walter Koerner, a major benefactor of the Library and Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the Friends of the Library. In the spring of 1958, the collection was purchased for $60,000 (about $350 000 by contemporary standards)

The Friends of the Library understood that by purchasing such a collection, the library's resources would be advanced several stages. Dr. Samuel Rothstein, who was involved in the negotiations to purchase the collection, noted that "(t)his is the way to build up a distinguished one fell swoop (we) have something that...will bring the scholars to (us)."

The collection filled three hundred boxes, each measuring two cubic feet and weighing a total of ten tons. Processing of this enormous collection was not completed until after the formation of the Library's Special Collection Division in 1960.

Previous web exhibits have identified the following themes within the Thomas Murray Collection

  • Milestones in Canadian Publishing. This includes books in the collection which are important landmarks as works published about or in Canada.
  • Education. Approximately 2000 textbooks and other educational items from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
  • Conflict. A small selection of books and periodicals relating to the War of 1812 and the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837.
  • Book plates. Many of these have been digitized by UBC Library

This page has been adapted from preserved web content prepared for UBC Library by Jeremy Heil in 2000.

Image source (left): "Thomas Murray" (1948). From the UBC Historical Photograph Collection.

Image source (right): "Neal Harlow with Canadiana book collection" (1958). From the UBC Archives Photograph Collection.

Archival Materials

Collocating This Collection

Want to explore this collection but don't know where to start? We've created some links that can help you discover the material in this collection.


Indexes, Catalogues, and Bibliographies in Print

Amtmann, Bernard. The Thomas Murray Collection (Montreal: 1957).

This extensive catalogue of materials in the collection categorizes the books under the following headings. Where applicable, these headings are linked to the catalogue. For more reliable collocation of these titles as they belong to the Thomas Murray Collection, see the Amtmann inventory.

Scrapbook for a golden anniversary : the University of British Columbia Library, 1915-1965. Victoria: Morriss Printing Co., [1965?].

Subject Headings

Canadian Literature

Canadian Literature--19th century

Canadian Literature--20th century

Canadian Literature--Publishing

Publishers and publishing--Canada

Publishers and publishing--Canada--History

Canadian literature--History and criticism

Book industries and trade--Canada--History

Authors and publishers--Canada


Canada--History--War of 1812


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The Thomas Murray Collection in UBC Open Collections