The collection consists largely of items that have been donated to the Society over the years; more recently, we have purchased a few specific items to fill gaps. We welcome new donations of relevant material, and financial contributions towards the costs of looking after items. Please contact us if you think you can help.
Maps & Atlases
The RSGS collection includes hundreds of early maps, particularly of Scotland (such as this from c1689 by Nicolaes Visscher of Amsterdam), and tens of thousands of other contemporary and historic items, some of which were collected in association with RSGS expeditions. A catalogue is available on our Maps and Images Database.
Books, Journals & Papers
The RSGS collection includes around 50,000 historical and contemporary books, academic journals and papers. Most of these are housed in the University of Strathclyde’s Andersonian Library, with free access for RSGS members.
The RSGS collection contains hundreds of thousands of still and moving images, some with accompanying listings and diaries, from decades of travel across most of the world’s countries and territories, recording scenes and events that may never be seen again. It includes over 100,000 35mm colour slides of geographical subjects from around the world, and over 8,000 antique glass lantern slides, many of which relate to past expeditions mounted by the RSGS, including this image of William Cuthbertson, artist on the Scotia, 1902-04.
A catalogue, including thumbnail images of 21,500 photographs, is available on our Maps and Images Database. Some images are also accessible through the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network (SCRAN) and the Glasgow Digital Libraries (GDL) Project.
Drawings & Paintings
Large bound volumes of beautifully drawn etchings, such as this Cairo street scene taken from Illustrations of Cairo by Robert Hay (Tilt & Bogue, London, 1840) were a popular 19th century way of showing people in the UK what life might be like in other parts of the world.
The RSGS has a small but important archive of material relating to past expeditions, voyages and the work of famous explorers, together with records of the activities of the Society since its founding. The archive includes this ticket for the opening by HM Stanley of the RSGS’s new rooms in the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh on Tuesday 10 June 1890.