Old-time writing meets modern technology in a new website launched today to showcase the University of Guelph’s collection of Scottish chapbooks. These popular booklets were written in the 18th and 19th century, and contain songs, poems and short stories. They were sold throughout Scotland by peddlers, called chapmen, before newspapers and other periodicals became widely available.

The new website provides free online access to about 600 chapbooks in the U of G library archives — it’s the second-largest collection in North America, says special collections librarian Melissa McAfee. This digitization project brought together the library and Guelph’s Centre for Scottish Studies.

Outside of the United Kingdom, Guelph has the world’s largest rare book and archival collection on Scottish history, and runs the largest Scottish studies program.