A ‘rare’ look into the past

A ‘rare’ look into the past

Queen’s Schulich Leaders engage with the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection, including the three most-recent additions.

By Communications Staff

February 14, 2023


Queen’s Schulich Leaders had a hands-on introduction to the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection at Queen’s University Library on Thursday, Feb. 2.

The Queen’s recipients of the coveted Schulich Leader Scholarships are future leaders in STEM disciplines, representing some of the best and brightest young minds in Canada. The Schulich Leader Scholarships were launched by Canadian businessman and philanthropist Seymour Schulich to invest in Canada’s STEM leaders of tomorrow.

These exceptional students got a firsthand look at one of the most influential and adapted technologies of the past – rare, antiquarian, early printed books from the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection. As the name of the collection suggests, many of these antiquarian books were donated from Seymour Schulich and Principal Emeritus Daniel Woolf’s personal collections. The Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection was established in 2016 through the generosity and vision of both Seymour Schulich and Dr. Woolf.

Schulich’s vision was to have a collection that could be used, studied, researched, and explored in person and virtually. Support was provided to build and preserve the collection while making it accessible to students, researchers, and community members through the digitization of the collection. The democratization of access to these historic texts is a unique and important element of the library’s mission, and the generosity of Schulich has ensured that access for generations to come.

During their visit, the Queen’s Schulich Leaders were treated to the unveiling of the most recent acquisitions to the collection, which just arrived at Queen’s, thanks to Schulich's continuing generosity. Two of the three new acquisitions – The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China by Juan González de Mendoza (1588) and Purchas his pilgrims: in five books [with] Purchas his pilgrimage collected by Samuel Purchas (1625-26) – are believed to be the only copies held in Canada, while the third – A Mirour for magistrates edited by Richard Niccols (1610) – is one of only two copies in Canada.

“Through Mr. Schulich and the Schulich Foundation’s continued support, we have been very fortunate to further enhance one of Canada’s best collections of early modern print books in English,” says Curator Dr. Brendan Edwards. “These titles are amongst the rarest and most desired sixteenth and seventeenth century English books. They are not only significant for their texts; they hold research possibility as physical artifacts of the past, directly connecting us to history through their materiality and offering us insights into the minds of earlier readers and students.”

Introducing the Schulich Leader Scholarship recipients at Queen’s to the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book Collection is not only a way of introducing the Leaders to one of the personal passions of their benefactor, but also an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the Schulich Foundation’s support of Queen's.