Special Collections

The Special Collections research unit in the Department of Archives and Special Collections, houses the Libraries' general collection of rare books and manuscripts and numerous special-interest collections centered around particular persons or topics of interest to scholars. By assembling an array of primary source materials and by conserving these materials under controlled conditions, Special Collections contributes to the growing reputation of the Libraries and the University as top-ranked teaching and research organizations.

Special Collections is located at the Luhrs Reading Room on Level 4 of the Charles Hayden Library. View the current Luhrs Reading Room hours

Besides the papers of Elleston Trevor, significant collections include works by and about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, an artistic and literary group which flourished in Victorian England; works printed by the Kelmscott Press and Thomas Bird Mosher; the Doris and Marc Patten Collection of Herbals and Early Gardening Books (noted as an “Excellent Source” in The Infography); materials about the Performing Arts; highlights of Childrens Literature; and Twentieth-Century authors such Paul Cook, Alan Dean Foster, and Glendon Swarthout; The Laos Research Collection.

The Special Collections research unit currently includes more than 45,000 books, 2,000 linear feet of manuscripts, and a substantial number of photographs, sound and video recordings. The Libraries' Online Catalog provides access to most books. Other specialized indexes and guides provide more detailed listings of the manuscript collections. Use our INFOsource to locate the manuscript collection you are interested in.

What makes a book special?

There was a time when all books were “special.” Those who had them guarded them jealously, even to the extent of chaining them to their shelves. These days, aesthetic value, age, rarity or unusual format often distinguish Special Collections materials. Books or manuscripts that have, individually, little intrinsic value, can become extremely important when collected with other pieces of their type or subject. Special Collections also provides secure protection for materials too fragile, too expensive, or too difficult to replace or to be shelved in open stacks.