The American Antiquarian Society contains an outstanding collection of Canadiana. This should not be surprising in light of the geographical, cultural, and historical links between the United States and Canada. The earliest bylaws of the Society outlined a broad goal to collect and preserve materials from the Western hemisphere. That range has been greatly modified since 1812, but the Society still continues to acquire printed materials relating to the history of New France and British North America from the period of European settlement through 1876.
Journals of early discovery and exploration, nineteenth- century guidebooks, illustrated reports of expeditions, biographies, essays in Canadian folklore and literature, and federal and provincial government documents are a part of the diverse Canadiana collection. The numerous general histories range from De Charlevoix's Histoire et Description Géneralé de la Nouvelle France (Paris, 1744) and the comprehensive twenty-three-volume Edinburgh edition of Canada and Its Provinces (Toronto, 1914) to recently published histories focusing on the Canadian experience through 1876.
The Society holds important documentary series such as Publications of the Canadian Archives, Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, and the Publications of the Champlain Society. All are rich in historical detail and cover a wide range of subjects and major events in Canada's history. The Society has numerous works concerning the Hudson's Bay Company including the Publications of the Hudson's Bay Record Society. The Society also holds collections of documents published by the Champlain Society, including the multivolume Hudson's Bay Company Series and the Works of Samuel de Champlain. The Champlain Society's The Rebellion of 1837 in Upper Canada focuses on one of the central events of Ontario's early history and AAS holds several other works about that armed insurrection in Upper and Lower Canada. Among the primary sources on the patriot uprising are several rare personal narratives by political prisoners who were transported to the British penal colony in Van Dieman's Land following the rebellion of 1837-38. The collection includes material on the provincial and municipal level as well. In addition to monographs, there are important series from Canadian historical societies and provincial archives. While all regions of Canada are represented, the largest number of studies are for the provinces of Ontario and Québec.
Canadiana is also represented in several other collections at AAS. There is a noteworthy collection of French-Canadian genealogies as well as family histories relevant to Loyalist studies. An excellent collection of maps and lithographs of Canadian cities is found in the graphic arts department. Most Canadian imprints issued through 1840 are cataloged online. The Society has a representative run of early Canadian newspapers, nineteenth-century almanacs, and scholarly periodicals such as BC Studies, Acadiensis, and the Canadian Historical Review. Government documents are located in both the cataloged Canadiana collection and the uncataloged foreign documents collection. These official publications range from a selection of Parliamentary sessional papers and early provincial statutes to committee reports on railroads and canals, annual reports of the Department of Mines, and occasional papers in archaeology and history from Canadian Historic Sites, a division of Parks Canada. In addition, Canadian materials are represented in other collections, including Directories, Learned Societies, and General Institutions.
Four of the standard Canadiana bibliographies are annotated by the acquisitions staff to reflect additions to the Society's collection. These are Marie Tremaine's A Bibliography of Canadian Imprints 1751-1800 (Toronto, 1951), the Toronto Public Library's A Bibliography of Canadiana (Toronto, 1934), R. E. Watters's A Checklist of Canadian Literature and Background Materials 1628- 1960 (Toronto, 1972), and Patricia L. Fleming's Upper Canadian Imprints, 1801-1841: A Bibliography (Toronto, 1988).
The Canadiana collection was enriched in 1964 when Dr. Gabriel Nadeau donated 1,363 works amounting to more than 3,000 volumes on the history and culture of French Canada. During his long career in public health medicine, Dr. Nadeau was also a novelist, historian, literary critic, and archivist. Through the generous gift of his impressive Canadiana library, the Society acquired many notable works, including the first report of the Sociêté des Bon Livres of Québec, 1843, M.J. and G. Ahern's Notes pour Servir a l' Histoire de la médicin dans le Bas-Canada (Quebec, 1923), J.E. Roy's Histoire de la Seigneurie de Lauzon (Levis, 1899-1902), and C. Tanguay's Dictionnaire Généalogique des Familles Canadiennes (Quebec, 1871-80). The Society continues to add primary and secondary works to its Canadiana collection, which serves as an important source of historical material for research in Canadian studies.
- Joanne Chaison, Research Librarian