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.
- Search collection guides (also called "finding aids") to find materials. Get more helpful tips and tricks for navigating your search.
- Go to the Archives and Special Collections department site for visitor information, information about using our collections, and news & events.
- Check the research guides for a head start on some common topics.
- Search UMedia for digital images and records from Archives and Special Collections.
- Not finding what you need? Contact staff for help.
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.
As both archives and research center, CBI promotes the study and understanding of the history of information technology and its impact on society.
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.
The Givens Collection facilitates access to African American history and culture through its rare book and archival collections, and through Umbra Search.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Archives documents the history of social service programs, policies, and organizations; the evolution of the social work profession; and social reform movements.
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 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.
UMJA has materials illustrating the American Jewish experience from a Midwestern perspective, chronicling the activities of supporting ethnic/religious communities and advocacy organizations.
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
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.
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.