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University of Washington Libraries

Library Overview

The Special Collections Division at the University of Washington Libraries is the major repository and resource for research in rare and archival materials for the Pacific Northwest region. Special Collections' holdings include rare books, manuscript collections, the University Archives, historic maps, architectural drawings, photographs, broadsides, pamphlets, and other ephemera. The foundations of Special Collections stem from the purchase of volumes for the Pacific Northwest Collection in 1919 and the acquisition in the 1930s of the first manuscript collections. The Special Collections Division was officially formed in 1963, when the Pacific Northwest Collection was combined with the University Libraries' rare book collection, followed in 1967 by the establishment of the Manuscripts and University Archives Division. The two divisions merged into the current Special Collections Division in 1998.

Special Collections serves a worldwide user group comprised of students, faculty, independent scholars, and members of the community. Over 5,000 visitors use the collections annually. Special Collections holdings encompass a broad range of subjects and geographic areas. A major focus is the Pacific Northwest; Special Collections has extensive published materials, manuscripts, and photograph and visual materials collections on this region. These collections contain materials on such diverse topics as politics, pioneer experiences, arts and literature, timber and fishing industries, and environmental and community activism. The University Archives provide historical records of the university and its faculty since its founding in 1861. The nationally known Book Arts Collection includes over 14,000 pieces encompassing all aspects of the physical book. While both historical and modern work is represented, the collection focuses on contemporary artists. Other specialized book collections provide a range of resources for the study of American and English society and culture; these collections include the Hilen Nineteenth-Century Americana Collection of classic American authors and undiscovered women writers and the Historical Children's Literature Collection, which contains over 3,000 17th- to 20th-century children's books.

University of Washington
Special Collections Division
Allen Library, Box 352900
Seattle, Washington 98195-2900
(206) 543-1929 (t)
(206) 543-1939 (f)