John Bartholomew and Son Ltd, Edinburgh


Family History



Ian Bartholomew


The Firm





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The Bartholomew Archive [1]

The firm's extensive archive contains business records (principally 1870s-1980s), including manuscripts, maps, photographs, copper plates, and glass plate negatives. Bartholomew was a jobbing printer, so the archive is an invaluable source for publishing and social history, as well as cartography.


In 2007, the National Library of Scotland (NLS) announced that the John R Murray Charitable Trust offered funding of 220,000 over three years (2007-2010) to enable some of the Bartholomew Archive to become more accessible.

The remarkable archive of the Bartholomew mapmaking firm came to NLS in installments over many years, but particularly from 1985 when control passed to HarperCollins (part of News International) from Reader's Digest which had bought the firm in 1980. The largest part of the collection was handed over in 1995 when the
Edinburgh operation moved to Bishopbriggs in This material is in several categories, some purchased, some donated or deposited:

  1. The Manuscript Archive (donated)

  2. The Printing Record (donated)

  3. Glass plate negatives (donated)

  4. Copperplates (purchased)

  5. The Printing Archive (donated)

  6. The Firm's Library (purchased)

  7. The John Bartholomew Collection - formerly known as the Bartholomew Family
    Collection antiquarian atlases (donated)

  8. Miscellaneous (donated)

More information about the history of the firm and the contents of the Archive is in a leaflet produced by NLS, which is also on NLS website at:


The Archive is large, occupying well over 300 metres of shelf space and some 200 drawers, plus specialist storage for glass plate negatives and copperplates. Until recently the Library has not had resources to tackle the conservation, sorting and listing of the collection, apart from volunteer work by former Bartholomew staff, including John Bartholomew, and some part-time work by a retired member of NLS staff, and a modest amount of conservation by NLS staff.



NEW:  BARTHOLOMEW ARCHIVE WEBSITE (National Library of Scotland)


[1] Abridged & adapted from "Unlocking the Bartholomew Archive" (Diane Webster, NLS).

Photos: National Library of Scotland


2008 All Rights Reserved John E A Bartholomew