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Dr. H. Rocke Robertson Dictionary Collection
University of British Columbia, Special Collections and University Archives Division

Dictionaries, English; English language--History; Dictionaries, English--History

In 1989, the collection was donated by its creator Dr. H. Rocke Robertson, U.B.C.'s first Professor of Surgery (1950-1959).

Gathered over thirty-five years, the collection includes two incunabula (pre-1500) and about seventy-five works from the 16th and 17th centuries; the balance were published in the 18th and 19th century. Some rare items in the collection are the first four editions of Samuel Johnson's dictionary (1755-1773); the first edition of Webster's An American dictionary of the English language (1828); a fragment of the Catholicon (1460), an encyclopedic dictionary and the first secular book to be printed in the western world; and a first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1771), published in Edinburgh.

Primarily English, as well as some ancient Greek, Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, bilingual and polyglot dictionaries.

Over 500 dictionaries; some early encyclopedias.

Bibliographic Access
The collection is catalogued online. LC subject headings and classification are used. A descriptive catalogue (see below) was published by the U.B.C. Press in 1989.

Physical Access
The collection is in Rare Books and Special Collections, which is open to the public. For further information visit:

Interlibrary Loan: No.

Reprography: Photocopying is done by the staff.

Reference Assistance: Yes.

Publications Describing Collection
A Collection of Dictionaries and Related Works Illustrating the Development of the English Dictionary. H. Rocke Robertson and J. Wesley Robertson. -- Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1989.