The Edinburgh Bibliographical Society promotes the study of books and manuscripts of any date, particularly Scottish, through meetings, publications, and other activities. Founded in 1890, it is the oldest such society in the world and the only extant one with a Scottish focus.

Our activities

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The Society meets regularly during the academic year, usually at the National Library of Scotland or the Quaker Meeting House, Edinburgh. One meeting is usually combined with our Annual Business Meeting in March, and is followed by a dinner celebrating a notable person in Scottish book history. Usually our last meeting of the year is a visit to a place of interest.

Visitors are welcome to attend meetings, and may also attend dinners and visits if places are available.


We publish the annual Journal of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society. This is our third series of printed papers, following Publications of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society (15 volumes, 1896-1935) and Transactions of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society (6 volumes in parts, 1938-2005).

The editors invite articles, particularly as they relate to Scottish interests, in the fields of bibliography, the book trade, the history of books and libraries, and book collecting. Please see the publications page for submission guidelines.

We also publish monographs and longer pieces as Occasional Publications. The editors welcome proposals for these by letter or email following our journal submission guidelines as above.

A brief history

George WaterstonBased on an idea by the printer and stationer George Waterson III, the Society first met on 16 January 1890. Archibald Constable (grandson of Walter Scott’s publisher) was elected president at this meeting. George Pyper Johnston, who served as Secretary from 1890 to 1932, describes the early years in ‘The Story of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society’. This was reprinted in our Journal, number 1, 2006 and is available as a pdf on this website. The Society’s archives are deposited in the National Library of Scotland (shelfmark Acc.9930).