Papers of Very Rev. Sir George Adam Smith (1856-1942)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-735
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English, Latin, and German.
  • Physical Description
      circa 17 notebooks, exercise books, diaries; circa 70 letters; 2 folders; 3 bundles; 6 photo albums; 23 mounted photographs. Access to records in a fragile condition may be restricted.
  • Location
      MSS SMI 1.1-14

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of: commonplace book, 1888-1895; diary of visit to the British Army in France, October 1916; diary of journey home, 1918; letters to mother and father from Middle East, 1880; letters from various correspondents, 1894-1932; letter from John G. Lorimer, 1905; letter from John Oman, 1907; letters from John G. Bartholomew, 1910-1915, mainly about Atlas of the historical geography of the Holy Land; letter from British Palestine Committee inside copy of memorandum of policy; miscellaneous notes, newspaper cuttings, 1891-1931, and statements, correspondence, cuttings and pamphlets, 1904-1905; Glasgow Free Church College Hebrew classes roll-book, 1892-1893 to 1904-1905; exercise book from classes of Old Testament Language, Literature and Theology, at Glasgow United Free Church College, 1905-1906 to 1909-1910; miscellaneous notebooks and commonplace books on a visit to Palestine, on Deuteronomy, Proverbs, Jeremiah, Schweich lectures, Semitica, Old Testament notes, travels in Syria, covering the period 1891-1923; material relating to Frank Scholten's Palestine, including correspondence and 23 mounted photographs; photograph albums of Palestine, 1891 and 1901, travels in Europe but mainly Switzerland, 1883-1886, and Egypt; and, various printed publications including The deliverance of Palestine (1927), reprint of Israel by Julius Wellhausen, copies of parts of the Hebrew Bible by S. Baer and published in Leipzig, volumes of Karl Baedeker's Egypt and Palestine and Syria in German.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Adam Smith was born in Calcutta on 19 October 1856. He was educated at the Royal High School, Edinburgh, and he studied at Edinburgh University and New College, Edinburgh, and also at the Universities of Tuebingen and Leipzig. A period of travel followed in Egypt and Syria, and then in 1880 he became an assistant at the Free West Church in Brechin, Angus. Between 1880 and 1882 he was a Hebrew tutor at the Free Church College, Aberdeen, then Minister of Queens' Cross Free Church, 1882-1892. Smith was appointed to the Chair of Old Testament Language, Literature and Theology at the United Free Church College, Glasgow, in 1892, and throughout the 1890s and into the new century he lectured extensively in the USA. He was appointed Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Aberdeen University in 1909, and held these offices until 1935. His publications include Historical geography of the Holy Land (1894), the two volumes of The twelve prophets (1896-1897), Modern criticism and the preaching of the Old Testament (1901), Syria and the Holy Land (1918), and with John Buchan he wrote The Kirk in Scotland (1930). Smith was knighted in 1916, and in 1933 he was made Chaplain to the King in Scotland. The Very Rev. Sir George Adam Smith died on 3 March 1942.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Who was who 1941-1950. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1952.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Local lists


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes at Edinburgh University Library, George Square, show references to Smith related material (check the Indexes for more details): letters to Miss Rose E. Selfe about the Jowett lectures, her books etc., 20 April 1900, and 28 March 1911, and undated, at Gen. 1983/109-111; and, letter to Professor A. G. Ogilvie, 26 June 1934, at Dc.4.102 (Ogilvie).

In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: correspondence and papers, circa 1892-1934, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. Dep 311 NRA 27274 Smith, and correspondence with Henry Drummond, Ref. Acc 5890 NRA 27275 Drummond.

Geographical Names