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University of Chicago Library

Library Overview

The University of Chicago's founding president, William Rainey Harper, set the course for Special Collections as a "working collection" in 1891. The emphases in Special Collections, now numbering approximately 265,000 books, 30,000 linear feet of archival materials, and 6,000 linear feet of manuscripts, closely parallel the disciplinary and research interests of faculty over the past century.

The core collection included manuscripts and books in philology, philosophy, theology, archaeology, and Renaissance and Reformation studies. The Goodspeed Manuscript Collection was joined by an important manuscript of the Canterbury Tales, as well as the Bacon Collection of English Court and Manorial Documents. The Stephen A. Douglas Papers and the Durrett Collection on Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley support the study of 19th-century America; while papers of Edith and Grace Abbott, Saul Bellow, Enrico Fermi, Leo Strauss, S. Chandrasekhar, and many others in the University Archives document the contributions of faculty members, trustees, and students.

Acquiring the first 50 years of the archive of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse established Chicago as a center for the study of modern poetry; rare books from the John Crerar Library expanded collections in the history of science and medicine. The Ludwig Rosenberger Library of Judaica supports programs in the social and cultural history of the Jewish people. American drama, children's books, and holdings in American and European history and literature are among the resources mined by faculty and students. The Chopin Collection and its online counterpart, Chopin Early Editions, illustrate the complementary nature of print and digital collections.

Instruction and outreach efforts are enhanced by the media-equipped Marie Louise Rosenthal Seminar Room. Class sessions and open houses introduce undergraduates to the discoveries awaiting them in Special Collections.

University of Chicago Library
Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637
(773) 702-8705 (t)
(773) 702-3728 (f)