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University of Rochester Libraries

Library Overview

The Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation houses unique, rare, and specialized research materials in all formats. The Rare Book collection numbers approximately 100,000 volumes ranging from incunabula to modern first editions. Four hundred manuscript collections form the basis of the Special Collections; as the repository of the University of Rochester's archives, the department preserves the university's history since its founding in 1850. In addition to book and paper materials, the collections also contain 16mm film, VHS tapes, audio recordings, and more than 100,000 photographic prints, negatives, maps, and other illustrative materials.

The book collection contains first and important editions of books regarded as landmarks in the history of science, religion, medicine, and social and political history; there are over 80 incunabula. There is a broad, representative collection of British and American authors, early American children's books, Tauchnitz editions, and the Roycroft Press. Other book collections with significant holdings include the local history collection, history of law and political theory, Victorian edition bindings, and books illustrated with original photographs.

Although there are excellent examples of medieval, Renaissance, and other early manuscripts, the strength of the manuscript collections lies in 19th- and 20th-century material. The literary manuscript collections include the complete archives of American writers including John Gardner, Frederick Exley, John A. Williams, and Charles S. Wright. The historical manuscript collections hold the personal and public papers of Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, William Henry Seward, Thomas E. Dewey, and Lewis Henry Morgan.

University of Rochester
Department of Rare Books, Special Collections & Preservation
Rush Rhees Library
Rochester, New York 14627-0055
(585) 275-4477 (t)
(585) 273-1032 (f)