Great Gifts / Summer 2006
An Island History

Gift to Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library honours of former UC principal


A recent gift to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in honour of former University College principal Archibald Hollis Hallett will be a boon to scholars researching the English settlement of Bermuda.

The gift, from the Maritime Museum of Bermuda, is a three-volume edition of the island nation’s 17th-century civil records. The books are “of great significance because of Hallett’s contribution to Bermuda history and his long asso­ciation with the University of Toronto,” says Carole Moore, chief librarian of the University of Toronto Libraries.

Hallett, whose family arrived in Bermuda in the 1840s, studied at U of T in the 1940s and was principal of University College from 1970 to 1977. Later, he became the first president of Bermuda College. He wrote several volumes on Bermudan history, and his set of civil records was published posthumously in 2004. “This really is a seminal work in Bermuda history,” says Moore. Hallett “dedicated a lot of his life to this, as he did to higher education here and in Bermuda.”

The original civil records were handwritten in the 17th century and document the beginnings of English settlement in Bermuda, says Moore. Hallett transcribed these records, which cover the period 1612 to 1684, and organized them into a single work. His first volume concerns the organizational structure of island governance, while the second details Bermuda’s various governors, as well as passenger lists and ship-ping records. The third volume includes the island’s birth, marriage and death records. “They are a valuable resource for students of the English settlement of the island,” says Moore.

The limited-edition set was passed on to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library by former U of T president George Connell (BA 1951 Trinity, PhD 1955), who accepted it on the university’s behalf at a ceremony in Bermuda in April 2005.


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