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Why use archives and special collections?

An archive is a place where people can go to access firsthand facts, data, and evidence from letters, reports, notes, memos, photographs, newspapers, and other primary sources. 

The University of Minnesota Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections (ASC) collects and preserves an amazing array of materials that support interdisciplinary research. The collections, housed in Elmer L. Andersen Library, are available to anyone with a desire to explore, discover, and learn.

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Tutorial: Archives & Special Collections: What we have and where to find it all

Archives and Special Collections: what we have and where to find it all tutorial. Self-paced.

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:

  • Identify the types of content in the Archives & Special Collections
  • Recognize where to search for it all

What are the special collections?

Each of the units below that comprise Archives and Special Collections have different topical areas of collecting. To find out more information about a unit and what materials might reside in their collections, click through to their web pages.

Charles Babbage Institute

As both archives and research center, CBI promotes the study and understanding of the history of information technology and its impact on society.

Children's Literature Research Collections

The Children's Literature Research Collections holds books, comics, story papers, dime novels, and other materials related to the creation of children’s literature, including original manuscripts and artwork.

Givens Collection of African American Literature

The Givens Collection facilitates access to African American history and culture through its rare book and archival collections, and through Umbra Search.

Immigration History Research Center Archives

The Immigration History Research Center Archives documents immigration to the United States from 1850 to the present, with materials created largely by immigrants and social service providers.

James Ford Bell Library

The Bell Library documents the history and impact of trade and cross-cultural contact around the globe prior to 1825 C.E.  More than 15 languages are represented in rare books, manuscripts/archival collections, and maps.

Kautz Family YMCA Archives

The YMCA Archives documents one of the nation’s largest and oldest nonprofits and its programs to support social welfare, spiritual and mental development, and physical education.

Northwest Architectural Archives

The Northwest Architectural Archives is the repository for the records of architects, engineers, contractors, landscape architects, interior designers, and local professional societies from the Midwest region.

Performing Arts Archives

Preserving Minnesota’s cultural legacy in music, theater, and dance, the Archives holds scripts, prompt books, costume and set designs, photos, and AV recordings from organizations, actors, designers, and directors.

Sherlock Holmes Collections

The Sherlock Holmes Collections constitute the largest gathering of material documenting the transformation of Holmes from a Victorian literary creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to a 21st century pop culture icon.

Social Welfare History Archives

The Archives documents the history of social service programs, policies, and organizations; the evolution of the social work profession; and social reform movements.

Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies

The Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies includes published materials, organizational records, and personal papers providing insights into the GLBT experience, and is the home of the Tretter Transgender Oral History Project.

University Archives

University Archives is the institutional home for historical documents, departmental collections, data, photographs, publications, and websites of the University, including faculty papers and research and administrative records.

Upper Midwest Jewish Archives

UMJA has materials illustrating the American Jewish experience from a Midwestern perspective, chronicling the activities of supporting ethnic/religious communities and advocacy organizations.

Upper Midwest Literary Archives

The resources in the Upper Midwest Literary Archives are integral to the study of literary history, independent publishing, and writers of the Upper Midwest.

Special collections in other locations

Andersen Horticultural Library (AHL) 

Located at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen, the AHL is the largest horticultural library in the Upper Midwest, focusing on plants, gardening, botanical art, landscape and floral design, garden history, and the natural history of Minnesota.

Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine

Located in the Phillips-Wangensteen Building on the East Bank campus, the Wangensteen Library for historical medical research houses 80,000 rare books, journals, and manuscripts in diverse medical and biological subjects spanning from approximately 1430 to 1930.

Last Updated: Feb 22, 2024 10:40 AM