Henry Percival Biggar established the Canadian Lectureship Fund in the early 1930s in order to promote the study of North American history in London and to expand the library’s holdings in Canadian history. Throughout his years in London Biggar diligently promoted the professionalization and study of Canadian history in the UK. In 1926 he organized a fund to endow a lectureship in Canadian History at the University of London. In 1932 Biggar stipulated that the interest from this fund, then standing at £600, be used by the IHR Library Committee to ‘buy books to be presented to the Canadian section of the Institute library’. Many of the library’s holdings in the area of European exploration in North America were purchased through the Canadian Lectureship Fund including, for example, Paul Gaffarel’s Histoire de la découverte de l'Amérique, 2 vols (Paris, 1892) and Henry Murphy’s The Voyage of Verrazzano (New York, 1870). Perhaps the most substantial additions to the library purchased under the aegis of the Lectureship fund were the initial two dozen volumes of the Archives de Quebec series. Biggar’s collection preferences continue to influence the IHR’s acquisition policy regarding Canadian titles as many of the series first purchased under his direction, including the Archives de Quebec, and Ontario History, have been updated as new titles become available. The IHR is currently exploring ways we can build upon the Colonial collection’s strengths in Francophone and early Canadian history.
By Benjamin Bankhurst (IHR)