About Special Collections

Special Collections includes rare book collections, the Iowa Women’s Archives, the University Archives, the International Dada Archive, maps, and more.

Collecting areas include more than 200,000 rare books that range in age from the 15th century to newly created artists’ books, over 1100 manuscript collections, medieval to modern, over 8,000 feet of records document University history, and over 20,000 cookbooks from 1499-present. Special Collections has exceptional literary collections of writers from Walt Whitman to Iris Murdoch, as well as historical collections that document the French Revolution, railroads, and the Civil War. Twentieth century collections include topics such as science fiction, Chautauqua and vaudeville performers, political cartooning, and screenwriting. Tens of thousands of pamphlets, photographs, posters, sound recordings, and oral histories will add primary sources to your research.

Stop by the reading room or email your questions to our department to get started.

Special Collections News

  • Special Collections November Update

    Late October and November were filled with big events in Special Collections and the Iowa Women’s Archives.   Iowa Bibliophiles 15th Anniversary, 11-8-2017 The November meeting marked the 15th anniversary of the group. In celebration, the evening’s talk was given by Arthur […]

  • Historically Yours Podcast: A Tale of Woe for Miss Rosa Poe with guest Peter Balestrieri

    Listen to the podcast: Download this episode (right click and save) For this episode of Historically Yours, Curator of Science Fiction and Popular Culture, Peter Balestrieri takes us back into the publishing industry reading a handwritten letter from 1868 written on behalf of Miss […]

  • Special Collections October Update

      Newsfeed This month’s Old Gold column from University Archivist David McCartney. A virtual look at a far-out time in Iowa City: UI archivist highlights web project that chronicles campus life in the 1960s.  https://now.uiowa.edu/2017/10/old-gold-virtual-look-far-out-time-iowa-city […]

  • Historically Yours Podcast: Academics, Fans, H.P. Lovecraft, and the price of paper

    For this episode of Historically Yours, School of Library and Information Science graduate student Kathryn Heffner reads a typed letter on Arkham House letterhead with details relating to what it took to get HP Lovecraft published during World War II, both figuratively and literally. […]

  • Upcoming October Events

    Handy Books exhibit reception. Friday, October 6th, 12-1pm Special Collections Reading Room     Saving Brinton, The documentary was extended at Film Scene in Iowa City and has additional showings through at least October 11th. Read more. Buy tickets.   The Reformation and Books […]

  • Special Collections September Update

      Newsfeed: Tim Shipe has published an article on the Dada Archive in Romania’s leading art magazine, Revista ARTA. Entitled “Serving Dada Scholarship: The International Dada Archive at the University of Iowa,“ the article appeared in issue # 26/27 (2017). The documentary […]

  • “Saving Brinton” Documentary Premieres at Film Scene on Friday, 9/29

    Frank and Indiana Brinton from Washington, Iowa toured the Midwest starting in the late 1890s putting on shows with motion pictures. More than 30 years ago, Washington, Iowa history teacher Michael Zahs took in their collection of early film history and kept it safe for more than 30 years, donating […]

  • “Handy Books” Exhibit Comes to Special Collections September 15th

    Sunday, August 20, 2017 – 8:00am to Friday, September 15, 2017 – 5:00pm Friday, September 15, 2017 – 8:00am to Wednesday, November 1, 2017 – 5:00pm UI Special Collections, 3rd Floor Main Library An exhibit of works that engage not just the eye, but also […]