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Washington University in St. Louis Libraries

Library Overview

Washington University Libraries' Department of Special Collections encompasses four units: Rare Books, Manuscripts, University Archives, and the Film & Media Archive. Their holdings range from ancient papyri to contemporary documentary film archives. Rare Books has some 50,000 volumes from the 15th century to the present, with particular strengths in graphic design and book arts, 19th-century and modern literature, and semeiology. Another very important collection focuses on British Arts & Crafts fine printing. Manuscripts holds papers of more than 175 contemporary British and American authors—including Samuel Beckett, William Gaddis, and James Merrill—and output from several presses. In addition to these modern literature archives, Manuscripts also holds medieval manuscripts and other historical documents, notable among them a Michelangelo manuscript.

The University Archives document Washington University history and also include other historical archives ranging from modern architectural drawings to St. Louis mayoral papers. The Film & Media Archive is the repository for documentary film archives, including the stellar Henry Hampton Collection and William Miles Collection. The Hampton Collection includes materials from several documentaries, including the landmark Eyes on the Prize series; it is a rich resource on African-American life in the 20th century. The Miles Collection features both the history of Harlem and African-Americans in the military. The department's newest effort—the Modern Graphic History Library—encompasses graphic history collections across the department and includes the archives of Al Parker and Robert Weaver, 20th-century illustrators whose work defined the look of many top publications during the heyday of magazine publishing.

Washington University Libraries
Department of Special Collections
Campus Box 1061
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, Missouri 63130-4899
(314) 935-5495 (t)
(314) 935-4045 (f)