Special Collections traces its origin to 1953, when Louise Richardson, long-time Director of the Library, stepped down to take the helm of the new department, creating it from the wealth of materials already in the Library. There are six areas of collecting in addition to general rare books: the Florida Collection; the University Archives and Photo Archives; the Scottish Collection; the John Mackay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection; manuscripts; and the Napoleon and the French Revolution Collection. With more than 25,000 volumes, the Shaw Collection gives major strength in English and American poetry from the mid-seventeenth century through the mid-twentieth century. Within the general rare books are several smaller named collections: the Howard Storrs Kelmscott Press Collection; the Nancy Bird Fore-Edge Painting Collection; the Lois Lenski Collection; the Louise Richardson Herbal Collection; the Tracy W. McGregor Fund Books on the Discovery and Exploration of the Americas; the Julia Stover and Milton Washington Carothers Memorial Collection of Bibles and Rare Books; and the Robert M. Ervin, Jr., Collection of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comics. Examples of notable manuscript collections include the papers of Nobel laureate Paul A. M. Dirac; the papers of Florida Governor Fuller Warren; the records of the Florida Panhandle's German-American Lumber Company; and the Tallahassee Civil Rights Oral History Collection. In addition, small collections of manuscript books, incunabula, cuneiforms, papyri, ostraka, and Coptic textiles are available for study. Collaboration between Special Collections and the FSU Museum Studies Program gives undergraduate students an opportunity to curate and install exhibits based on materials held in Special Collections.
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