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Welcome to Special Collections

A guide to visiting the Special Collections department at the University of Iowa Libraries.
  Using the collections from a distance

We aim to reduce barriers to collection use for those unable to visit us in the reading room. A few of our collections are available online, visible in the Iowa Digital Library.

If the collection you would like to look at is not available online, we are often able to scan materials and send them to you. More information is available on our photoduplication page. Depending on the specificity and amount of materials requested, we may not be able to complete the request with Special Collections staff. If accomplishing the request will take longer than 30 minutes or require scanning more than 100 pages, we recommend finding a personal researcher to look through the collections on your behalf.


  Digital resources

Special Collections collaborates with other departments in the Libraries to digitize select collections in order to make viewing easier for the public. These digitized collections can be viewed in the Iowa Digital Library.

If you are trying to find something not located at the University Libraries, try looking in WorldCat, a catalog of the collections and services provided by over 10,000 libraries, worldwide. You can also use Archive Finder, a searchable subscription database of collections at 5,500 U.S., British, and Irish repositories. The National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC) is very complementary to Archive Finder, but perhaps a bit less user friendly. This is a searchable database of U.S. manuscripts collections reported to the Library of Congress. The records include descriptions of the collections, location, and whether or not the items are available online. These, and other resources, can be found on our links page.

  Useful Links

(State of) Iowa Center for the Book
A program of the State Library (Des Moines), affiliated with the Library of Congress Center for the Book

Archive Finder, Home Page
Searchable subscription database of collections at 5,500 U.S. repositories, some British institutions, and Irish repositories. Search by keyword in collections or by repository. Includes links to online finding aids when available. Formerly “ArchivesUSA.”

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC)
Searchable database of U.S. manuscript collections reported to the Library of Congress. Records include descriptions and location of the collection, online access if available, and other information. Less friendly than ArchivesUSA but highly complementary.

Repositories of Primary Sources (University of Idaho)
Links to 4800 institutional websites, U.S. and international, describing special collections holdings. Lists arranged by country, region, state, and general.

WorldCat / OCLC
Records for manuscripts, monographs, and all varieties of media. Now includes ArchiveGrid, a database of records and inventories created by RLG before its merger with OCLC. Search function can be limited to manuscripts. Cataloged manuscripts and manuscript collections are included; records provide information about the institution at which they are located. Subscription database available to UI users only.

The University of Iowa Collections Consortium
Links to museums and similar research collections and facilities at The University of Iowa.

The Atlas of Early Printing
An online, interactive tool for teaching and understanding the spread of printing from 1450-1500, developed by Special Collections & University Archives.

Consortium of Iowa Archivists
The Consortium of Iowa Archivists (CIA) is a loosely organized group of archivists, curators, librarians and other related professionals who work with archival collections in Iowa.