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

  • 2017 Year in Review for Special Collections

    Left: Manuscripts class with fifth grade students. Right: Center for the Book class. Photos: Final tote bag pile, Colleen Theisen and Rebecca Romney speaking at Prairie Lights, Janet Weaver speaking about Mujeres Latinas at Hancher, the Instagram meetup, and a crowd scene from the final plenary […]

  • New Acquisition: Andrei Codrescu Papers

    By Timothy Shipe University of Iowa Libraries Special Collections is pleased to announce the acquisition of the library and papers of noted Romanian-American writer Andrei Codrescu. Comprising approximately eighty linear feet of manuscripts, books, audiovisual material, digital media, art works, […]

  • 09: Historically Yours: Love, Marjorie; Knitting hats for strawberries, swearing at horses, and the circus comes to town: Life in Kansas in the 1930’s

    Living miles apart from your loved ones in the 1930’s a letter was a great way to stay connected. University of Iowa School of Library and Information Science faculty member and author Jennifer Burek Pierce is the guest for episode nine of Historically Yours and reads a fun […]

  • 50 Years Ago Today; A Campus in Conflict

    By David McCartney, University Archivist   Tuesday, December 5, marks the 50-year anniversary of what was to that date the largest anti-war protest on the UI campus. Over 200 demonstrators gathered outside the Iowa Memorial to protest the presence of Dow Chemical representatives who were on […]

  • Special Collections November Recap

    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. […]