The first "special collection" at the University of Western Ontario Libraries (Western Libraries) was established in 1934 as the Treasure Room Collection. Thus began the formal development of Western Libraries' antiquarian and rare book holdings that, along with the university archives and local history collection, provide Western with a broad range of primary research resources. In 1999, in recognition of an endowment from the estate of Lillian Benson, a long-service retiree and friend of Western Libraries, it was renamed the James Alexander and Ellen Rea Benson Special Collections in honor of her parents. Currently located in the new Archives and Research Collections Centre, the Benson Special Collections comprises an eclectic mix of major sources, including the G. William Stuart Jr. Collection of Milton and Miltoniana; H. G. Wells Collection; English Canadian literature to 1939; Canadian Voyages and Travel to 1900; Hannah Collection of the History of Science and Medicine; Beatrice Hitchins Collection of Aviation History; and Richard Maurice Bucke Collection of Medical, Philosophical, and Literary Papers.
Western Libraries' other special collection is located in the Music Library. Its cornerstone is the Gustav Mahler-Alfred Rosé Collection. Received in 1983, it is recognized as one of the largest bodies of Mahler primary source material in North America. Other special holdings at the Music Library include the Opera Collection, a major research resource of over 2,000 volumes of manuscripts and first editions of opera, dating from the 17th to early 20th centuries; the Metastasio Collection of opera scores and libretti based on original libretti by Pietro Metastasio (1698–1782); the Cherubini Collection; and the Delaquerrière Album.
The Benson Special Collections and Music Library holdings are well used by faculty and staff to support teaching and research and are regularly consulted by national and international scholars. Their presence reinforces Western's position as one of Canada's research-intensive universities.
The University of Western Ontario
Archives and Research Collections Centre (ARCC)
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(519) 661-3913 (t)
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