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Course & Subject Guides

James Boswell, Biographer and Diarist, Fall 2016 @ Archives & Special Collections: The Exhibit

The Special Collections Department at the University of Pittsburgh presents an exhibition of the life of James Boswell, the writer who revolutionized the genre of biography and the broader literary tradition.

[A cropped oil portrait of James Boswell with a semi-transparent layer of his handwriting on top. The title of the exhibition is printed on the banner.]

An engraving of several men around a dining table, including James Boswell and Samuel Johnson.
James William Edmund Doyle and D. George Thompson
A Literary Party at Sir Joshua Reynolds', 1851
Stipple and Line Engraving
18x23 in
National Portrait Gallery, London

Featuring James Boswell (far left), Samuel Johnson, (second to left) and Pasquale Paoli (right from center).

Contact Us


Special Collections Department

A&SC at Hillman Library

3960 Forbes Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Phone: 412-648-8190



M-F: 9:00am-4:45pm


Presented by the University of Pittsburgh

Special Collections Department

Fall 2016-Spring 2017

Pittsburgh Lawyer Templeton Smith was an avid collector of all things relating to James Boswell, the 18th century Scottish diarist and biographer. In 2006, Mr. Smith, and his wife, Nellie, donated his collection to the ULS’s Special Collections Department and it is now known as the “Templeton & Nellie Smith Boswell Collection.” In celebration of the 10th anniversary of this bequest, we have curated an exhibit that highlights its unique and rare holdings, while tracing James Boswell’s distinctive character and literary talents, as well as his exceptional relationship with prominent British writer and lexicographer Samuel Johnson.

A page of Boswell's shorthand

A copy of Boswell's shorthand, based on Thomas Shelton's Tachygraphy. The note was written in 1763, and is a to-do list when transcribed into common English. 

Exhibit Catalogue

Special thanks to Templeton and Nellie Smith and their family for the donation of the Templeton & Nellie Smith-Boswell Collection.

This LibGuide was created by Maureen Jones, Fall 2016 HAA Exhibit Design Intern, and overseen by Special Collections staff members Margaret McGill and Brigitta Arden.