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

  • Margaret Gamm, New Head of Special Collections

    The University of Iowa Libraries is delighted to announce Margaret Gamm as the new Head of Special Collections. She replaces Greg Prickman, who leaves on July 2 to become the Eric Weinmann Librarian and Director of Collections at the Folger Shakespeare Library after serving as Head of Special […]

  • Archivist Remembers Hometown Tornado

    Summer for a Midwesterner means corn on the cob, days at the pool or setting up the sprinkler in the front yard, gnats galore, and humidity that makes the air feel like soup. However, summer in the Midwest also brings to mind pictures of tornadoes that swoop down from the sky and destroy so much […]

  • On to the Next Chapter

    It is with a mix of sadness and joy that Special Collections bids goodbye to Colleen Theisen as she leaves to start her next big adventure. Colleen has accepted a job at Syracruse University as their Chief Curator of Exhibitions, Programs, and Education. Although we are sad to see her go, we cannot […]

  • Upcoming Events and Exhibitions

    Events   World Canvass The World Canvass program ” “Against Amnesia: Archives, Evidence, and Social Justice,” will feature Iowa Women’s Archives curator Kären M. Mason. TONIGHT: Thursday, Feb. 22, 5:30-7:00PM Event Calendar Listing     […]

  • Iowa City Archives Crawl Saturday February 24th

    Iowa City Archives Crawl  Saturday, February 24 at 11:00am to 3:00pm   What gems are preserved inside of Iowa City’s libraries, museums, and archives? At the area’s first-ever archives crawl, visitors can snoop in between the pages of historic diaries, read other […]

  • Historically Yours Podcast: Ursula LeGuin, Earthsea, and Tolkien with guest Peter Balestrieri

    In this episode guest Peter Balestrieri brings us a letter from Ursula LeGuin that he found tucked inside of a recently donated copy of “The Farthest Shore.” LISTEN: Download this episode (right click and save)   Guest: Peter Balestrieri   Citation: LeGuin, Ursula to Martin, […]

  • 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, […]