Special Collections & Archives
The Special Collections Department of the University of Idaho Library includes those materials that, because of subject coverage, rarity, source, condition, or form, are best handled separately from the General Collection. The several "collections" housed in this department are for research use by faculty, students, and visiting scholars. However, the materials are non-circulating; their use is limited to the Special Collections Reading Room, 8am-4:30 pm, Monday through Friday (summer hours vary). Photocopying is available but can be permitted only when it will not harm the material and is permitted by federal copyright law. Smoking, eating, drinking, and the use of pens are all prohibited in the reading room. Users of the materials must register daily upon entering Special Collections. Access to the materials is provided primarily by the library's catalog. A knowledgeable staff and a variety of finding aids are available to assist researchers and retrieve materials for study.
This comprehensive collection of over 16,500 volumes consists of published materials for the study of Idaho and the Pacific Northwest. The materials included relate to persons, places, events, and things in and of the geographical area now known as the State of Idaho, together with materials that deal with Idaho's place in the region and the nation. Very early in its history, material on this subject was gathered by the Library, but it received its biggest boost in 1941 with the gift of the Western Americana library of regent Jerome J. Day. Closely related to the Day-Northwest Collection are the Idaho Documents Collection, the Caxton Collection, and the Personal Papers and University Archives. Among the notable items in this collection are three imprints from Idaho's first printing press, established by missionary Henry Spalding at Lapwai in 1839; first editions of Idaho author Vardis Fisher, early accounts of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and Captain John Mullan's copy of his report on Colonel Wright's campaign against the Indians in Oregon and Washington Territories. These books have the designation DAY-NW in the bibliographic system.
This collection of the printed, mimeographed, and other publications of the State of Idaho and its subdivisions, including the University of Idaho, is considered to be the most complete in existence with the possible exception of that in the State Historical Society at Boise. Of special interest is the inclusion of a complete set of the territorial session laws and the journals of the territorial council and House of Representatives. This collection is designated IDAHO in the bibliographic system.
The Caxton Collection, a gathering of all titles issued by Caxton printers, Ltd., of Caldwell, Idaho, has been brought together so that interested persons may study the publishing history of Idaho's only nationally known publisher. Since its beginnings early in the century, Caxton Printers has received many accolades for superlative craftsmanship and has been acclaimed as having "recaptured the past in a long line of Western Americana." Noted authors published by Caxton include Vardis Fisher and Ayn Rand. Designated CAXTON in the bibliographic system, this collection contains over 1,000 volumes.
In 1973 the Library began to collect works by and about Ezra Pound, American man of letters who was born in Hailey, Idaho, in 1885. The Pound Collection now contains over 300 titles including first editions, signed copies, and complete runs of Agenda and Paideuma. There is more information on the Pound Collection at the University of Idaho.
The Rare Book Collection consists of those books which because of their artifact or association qualities must be provided more attention and care. These include early imprints, such as incunabula (books published between 1450 and 1500); significant works from famous presses; volumes with exceptional bindings or illustrations; and first editions of landmark books, such as Charles Dickens' Little Dorritt as issued in twenty parts from 1825 through 1857. There are nearly 3000 volumes in this collection. In the bibliographic system these have the designation SPEC or DAY2 before the call number.
This collection of first editions of the works of Sir Walter Scott, along with books relating to him, was presented to the University Library by Earl Larrison, Professor of Zoology, in 1962. Since that date, many volumes by or about the British writer have been added to the collection that now numbers over 1200 volumes. There is an answer for those who ask, "Why is there a Sir Walter Scott Collection at the University of Idaho?"
Early maps covering the period to 1900 which include the area now known as Idaho comprise the Historical Map Collection. A guide, Maps in the Special Collections Department, was published in 1984.
Among the strengths of the Department of Special Collections and Archives is the acquisition, preservation, cataloging, and use of primary documentation of the history of Idaho and the West. The nearly 6,000 cubic feet of materials in the collections include personal papers of individuals and families; business records of lumber, railroad, mining, and other companies; papers of government officials, politicians, educators, authors, and business people; records of organizations such as religious, fraternal, and civic associations; and similar groups. They support research into nearly all facets of the history of Idaho and the Pacific Northwest.
Access to the manuscripts and archival material in the library is provided primarily by the on-line bibliographical catalog. Descriptive entries identify the persons, places, and things of prominence in the collection. Larger bodies of material frequently have supplementary inventories and descriptive guides, whose presence is noted in the library's catalog. Kept in stack areas closed to public access, and frequently measured in the hundreds of cubic feet, these primary source materials are delivered to the reading room by the staff upon request. A more comprehensive description of the Personal Papers and University Archives is available. Some inventories have been placed on this server for both University Archives and Manuscript Collections.
University Archives document the broad history of the University of Idaho, and contain administrative records, university programs and activities, departmental histories, faculty publications and papers, student activities, UI publications, UI and private photographs of University people and events, and other records of University events, actions, and evidence of changing lifeways. Working closely with UI Records Management to identify and store UI records of permanent historical or legal significance, the University Archives ensures that the contributions of UI faculty, staff and students to the community, state, and nation are recorded and documented.
Copies of bachelor's and master's theses, and doctoral dissertations submitted for degrees at the University of Idaho are held as archival record copies. In most cases, there is a circulating copy in the General Collection. All are listed in the UI Library online catalog.
Only articles about the University of Idaho and its faculty, staff and students are included; international, national, state and local news items are omitted. Bound paper copies may be used in Special Collections. Click here to search the Argonaut Index and access the full text issues.
This collection consists primarily of photographs of the University and its many activities and of the State of Idaho. One of the most important components consists of the negative file of the Barnard Studio of Wallace, Idaho, donated to the Library by the heirs of the late Nellie Stockbridge. These provide an almost complete photographic record of Wallace and the surrounding Coeur d'Alene mining district from 1894 through 1956.
The International Jazz Collections was formally established at the University of Idaho in 2000, featuring papers and photographs of the legendary Lionel Hampton. Others included in the IJC are Leonard Feather, Lee Morse, Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Conte Candoli and Al Grey. The IJC merged into the Special Collections & Archives of the UI Library in 2007, and is now the preeminent jazz archive in the Pacific Northwest. The International Jazz Collections can be viewed from the IJC home page.