Papers of James Maitland Anderson

Scope and Content

The papers relate primarily to his publication of important sources for the history of the University.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Maitland Anderson (1852-1927), Librarian of the University of St Andrews from 1881-1924 (and Keeper of Muniments until his death), became an eminent historian of the University and locality.

He was born in Rossie, Fife on 22 October 1852, eldest son of James Anderson, gardener to Captain James Maitland RN. He married Margaret Elizabeth Bain in 1880 and had two daughters. He was educated at the Free Church School, Giffordtown and the Parish School, Auchtermuchty and through private study. He began life as a cow-herd thereafter working in different businesses until he became a journalist, reporting for various newspapers and contributing to several minor periodicals in English and German. He edited the Phonographic Standard, 1872-74 and was appointed assistant librarian at the University of St Andrews in 1874.

He became University Librarian in 1881, also serving as Secretary of the University, 1878-1899, and as Quaestor, 1881-92, and Registrar and Secretary of the General Council, 1881-1899. He published widely on the history of the University and town, notably Historical Sketch of the University of St Andrews (1878), Heraldry of the University of St Andrews (1895), Register of Students at St Andrews, 1747-1897 (1905) and Matriculation and Graduation Rolls of St Andrews University, 1413-1579 (1926). He edited the University of St Andrews Calendar, 1882-1899 and the Library Bulletin, 1901-24. He was awarded an honorary LL.D by St Andrews in 1912. He died in August 1927.

Sources: Obituary in Alumnus Chronicle, 2 (Jan 1928), pp.11-12; Who was who, 1916-1928 (London, 1929).


The collection is unlisted.

Access Information

By appointment with the Archivist. Access to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing confidential information may be restricted.

Acquisition Information

Accessioned in 1975.


Much of the material is in shorthand or bears notes by Anderson in shorthand.

Description compiled by Rachel Hart, Archives Hub Project Archivist.

Other Finding Aids


Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Custodial History

ms36937/1-16 acquired by the Library in 1973; ms37047-50 probably presented by the executors of James Maitland Anderson, as was the book collection.

Related Material

There are extensive references within the University's library correspondence series and throughout the mss collections which can be accessed through the general mss index at GB227. Formal records of his position as Librarian are held within the GB227 UYLY muniment series. The Library also holds his library of ca. 1000 volumes, mainly 19th and 20th centuries, but with 72 pre-1801, 17 pre-1701 and 2 pre-1601 items. The main subject areas are philosophy, especially the works of Kierkegaard, and education history. There is a strong Scandinavian bias throughout the collection.

Geographical Names