The Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections is home to 80 large and small book collections, numerous archival and manuscript collections, poster collections, periodicals, photographs, and vellum documents. Digital collections of note include the Siege and Commune of Paris (1870–1871), with 1,200 contemporary photographs, and Edward S. Curtis's North American Indian (1907–1930), with the complete text and original photographs.
The personal library of Johannes Schulze (1786–1869), acquired in 1870, is rich in 15th-century books, Aldines, Elzevirs, and classical authors in first and subsequent editions. There are comprehensive collections of Samuel Johnson, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and Frank Lloyd Wright as well as strong author collections of Joyce, Yeats, Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Hemingway, Pound, Maria Edgeworth, Thomas Taylor the Platonist, and Soren Kierkegaard. Archival collections include the entire archive of the Gate Theatre of Dublin from 1928 to 1971. The department is notable for its collections in Dada, Surrealism, Expressionism, Futurism, and Art Nouveau. Recent acquisitions relate to members of the Fluxus movement, such as Jan Herman, Dick Higgins, and Charlotte Moorman, all of whose papers are now at Northwestern.
The department has wide-ranging collections documenting 20th-century alternative movements. The women's movement is extensively documented from 1965 on. A growing collection of gay materials includes underground newspapers and other early serial publications.
Outside the McCormick Library and the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, prominent special collections at Northwestern include the Music Library, which owns nearly every musical score published from 1945 to the present; the Transportation Library, the world's largest, with annual reports from airlines and railroad companies dating back to the 19th century; the Art Library, especially strong in fin-de-siècle and avant-garde art and architecture journals; and finally University Archives, one of the most extensive university archival collections in the United States.
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