Collection JJT - James Todd Johnstone collection (Librarian, RBGE, 1912-46)

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Reference code



James Todd Johnstone collection (Librarian, RBGE, 1912-46)


  • 1923 - 1973 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 box; 46cm

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born Edinburgh 1883; died Edinburgh 1953.
James Johnstone studied botany as part of his M.A. degree at Edinburgh University and as a young man assisted his father in his antiquarian bookshop, gaining a sound knowledge of books, bookbinding and printing. In 1912 he was appointed, by Prof. Isaac Bayley Balfour, to become the first librarian at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh whose library had, by that time, grown to a considerable size. It was housed in various rooms and corridors and the system used to find each of the 4,000 volumes was to record the location on its cover and in a master catalogue. Johnstone held the library post for 35 years, but included time spent in the army during the First World War, and for many years was also Assistant Secretary to the Botanical Society of Edinburgh and edited its Transactions. He also edited and contributed to ‘Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’ which Bayley Balfour had established in 1900 as the official scientific publication of the Garden. James Johnstone retired in 1946 and died in 1953.
Sources:HR Fletcher and WH Brown ‘The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 1670-1970’; Deni Bown, ‘4 Gardens in One’

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• GB235 JJT/1: Index to Botanical References & Publications – Foolscap Book “Army Book 72”: alphabetical indexed ledger, ms. entries and ms. and typescript loose sheets (includes ms. notes to RK, William Wright Smith, on botanical references, and typescript note from W. W. Smith, 1931–1937,) 1927. Index includes lists of bibliographic references to monographs and scholarly journals, with 6 pp. listing County Reports of Scotland (1794 to 1814) and England (1794 to 1815).
• GB235 JJT/2: “Index to Rhododendrons & Primulas”: alphabetical indexed ledger, ms. entries and ms. and typescript loose sheets (includes misc. plant notes, typescript List of Works on Primulas, and ms. list of rhododendrons), 1923.
• GB235 JJT/3: “Index to Scottish Botanists” in “The Portland Letter File”: alphabetical indexed ledger, with ms. loose sheets, Note inserted in file: “It is quite possible that this was compiled by Mr J T Johnstone, RBG Librarian. DMH [Douglas Henderson], 1973.”

Above material, apparently prepared and used as personal reference source by J. T. Johnston, Librarian of RBGE 1912-46 and are filed under “Johnston, J.T. (Librarian)” – in individual box

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permission from RBGE Library

Language of material

  • English

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  • Shelf: D:5:3