Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


During the Victorian period when scientific work was established in Canada, Canadian researchers knew that access to the published literature was a crucial link to national and international scientific developments. This dissertation examines the effectiveness of the dissemination of scientific literature in Canada from the late 1830s to the end of the first decade of the twentieth century in two subject areas: geology and agriculture. It studies the careers of six scientists: Robert Bell, Elkanah Billings, Sir John William Dawson, James Fletcher, Sir William Edmond Logan, and William Saunders to learn what scientific literature was read and where it was or could have been obtained.;The dissertation explores four aspects of the dissemination of scientific literature: characteristics of the literature that the six scientists actually read; the nature of accessible scientific literature as ascertained from an examination of the personal libraries of the six scientists and the scientific literature acquired by six institutional libraries; and finally the role played by members of the publishing industry in the dissemination of scientific literature.;The research involved the creation of a database of citations for a study of reading patterns, the reconstruction of the six scientists' personal libraries, completion of groundwork to establish the history of the six institutional libraries, and description of the activities of members of the publishing industry.;The findings of the study include the following: current periodicals and report literature formed the bulk of scientists' reading material; reprints in the thousands were circulated among scientists and libraries; exchanges formed a significant component of both personal and institutional collections of scientific literature; scientists played a leading role in disseminating scientific literature; Canadian researchers read widely, mostly scientific literature published in the United States and the United Kingdom, but European publications were consulted as well; and members of the publishing industry promoted the diffusion of scientific literature primarily through extensive advertising.;By mapping out a previously uncharted area this dissertation provides a detailed positive answer to the question: did Victorian Canadian scientists have access to the international scientific literature of the period?



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