Founded in 1946 with the acquisition of the Thordarson Collection of rare science and illustrated natural history books, the Department of Special Collections in Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin–Madison, now features one of the nation's leading collections for the history of science. Holdings in this field include the Duveen and Cole collections of alchemy and chemistry, the Schadewald Collection on Pseudo-Science, the Science and Religion Collection, and the Albert Collection on optics and ophthalmology.
Other strengths include the Little Magazines Collection with runs of more than 7,000 experimental English-language literary magazines (ca. 1900 to the present), the Cairns Collection of American Women Writers before 1920, and numerous author collections. Literary materials also include the Renée Lang Collection on French and German literature, the Ellis Collection of German language textbooks, and an Icelandic literature collection, among others.
Strong collections in European history emphasize 19th- and 20th-century movements on both the left and the right, such as Russian liberal parties, French and German socialists, German workers' theater, cooperatives in Yugoslavia, Cossack émigrés, Nazism, Italian fascism, Vichy propaganda, and French student revolutions. Related collections document the two world wars.
General rare book holdings include decorated publishers' bindings along with many books published up through the early 19th century previously housed in circulating collections.
The university also holds significant special collections in health sciences at Ebling Library; university records as well as personal papers, such as those of Aldo Leopold, in University Archives; a large artists' book collection in Kohler Art Library; rare book collections in the Biology Library and Law Library; and letterpress products and working collections of the Silver Buckle Press. In addition, the Library and Archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society offer extensive research collections in American and regional history.
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Department of Special Collections
976 Memorial Library
728 State Street
Madison, Wisconsin 53706
(608) 262-3243 (t)
(608) 265-2754 (f)