A Famous Economist and His Library Collection

Jamie, our Marketing and Outreach Intern, gives an update on his progress.

Blog photo

I have passed the halfway point of my internship here at CRC; I feel like time is flying by too quickly but at the same time feel like I have been here and part of the team much longer than four weeks. I’ve started to get really stuck into my work as the Marketing and Outreach Intern preparing presentations, writing reports, doing research amongst other things. Although busy the majority of time with those things I still enjoy the pleasure of dipping my toes into some of the collections and discovering some very interesting pieces on my way. As part of my university degree I study Economics (yes students do actually study sometimes), and I am sure many of you are aware of Adam Smith; for those of you who are not there’s no need to worry as I’ll give you a little background information.

Adam Smith (1723-1790) is often referred to as ‘the father of modern economics’. He was the author of ‘The Wealth of Nations’ which is one of his most well-known works and is one of the first books regarding modern economics. He studied at the University of Glasgow and Balliol College, Oxford before giving lectures at the University of Edinburgh.

Being interested in Economics, I was fascinated to learn that only a few rooms away from my desk sat a collection of books from the library of Adam Smith himself! The CRC holds about half of the original library. The majority of the collection came from David Douglas Bannerman (1842-1903), the grandson of David Douglas, who was Smith’s heir. Bannerman gave the main portion of the collection to New College in the 19th century. The rest of the collection is made up of smaller donations and acquisitions. For many modern economists, whether they are from an academic or a professional environment, if they are studying an undergraduate or even the one teaching those undergraduates, being able to read over or study the books Smith himself once read makes you feel something special, like a musician who is holding an instrument once played by Mozart.

I’ve had a brief look at the collection and there is a wide variety of genres represented; many of course with philosophical, economical and business elements, but also others regarding science and a few discussing places around the world.

I was amused to see that he even had a copy of one of his own books, ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments’, possibly just for reference. As I looked through the collection, I thought to myself many of these books would have contributed to Smith’s own works and shaped his ideas, and this put a smile on my face.

The Theory of Modern Sentiments

If you are researching Adam Smith or are interested in finding out more and would like to consult his library collection, the books are mostly listed on the main online catalogue and can be consulted in the CRC, 6th floor, University of Edinburgh Main Library.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *