Special Collections

To survey and browse these research collections, keyword search using this Collection Guide or go to:

Iowa Women’s Archives

Collection Guides

Resources for the History of The University of Iowa

Special Collections & University Archives

The Rita Benton Rare Book Room Collection

a collection of 2000 books and manuscripts that documents classical music of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, is located in the Rita Benton Music Library.

The John Martin Collection in the History of Medicine,

5000 volumes of medical history dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries, is located in the Hardin Library of Health Sciences.

Within its overall collection of five million printed volumes, the University of Iowa Libraries holds over 200,000 rare books. It also houses over 15,000 linear feet of manuscripts, unique archival records, hundreds of thousands of documents, photographs, and ephemeral publications, thousands of non-commercial sound recordings, motion pictures, and videotapes, and, increasingly, records “born digital.”

While nearly all the printed rare books are represented by records in the InfoHawk catalog, most archival and ephemeral materials are described by “finding aids” which typically describe content folder by folder or container by container. To key word search these finding aids and other information about the collections, all at one time, use this Collection Guide.

Since items in research collections are typically old, fragile, highly valuable, or easily disorganized, they must be retrieved for readers from closed stacks and their use is supervised. Digital phography, scans, and photocopies are generally permitted.

Most research collections reside in the Special Collections & University Archives Department located on the Third Floor of Main Library. Some manuscripts and archives that specifically document the lives and work of Iowa women are located in the Louise Noun-Mary Louise Smith Iowa Women’s Archives, also on the Third Floor of Main Library.