Description of the Collections

1917 panoramic photograph of the University of Idaho campus

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, visiting scholars, and the public. However, the materials are non-circulating; their use is limited to the Special Collections Reading Room, which is open 10:00am-2:00pm, Monday through Friday, or by appointment.

Access to the materials is provided primarily by the library's catalog and Archives West. A knowledgeable staff and a variety of finding aids are available to assist researchers and retrieve materials for study.

Finding Aids and Collection Lists

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Book Collections Manuscripts and Archives University Archives Historical Photographs International Jazz Collections

Book Collections

This comprehensive collection 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.

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. This collection contains over 1,000 volumes.

The Stonewall Collection consists of books proposed for consideration for the American Library Association's Stonewall Book Awards (including winners and honor books) as representative of the stream of publishing representing the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience. The collection - including works added in the future - shall be incorporated into the Stonewall Book Awards Collection, presented by Lewis Brian Day.

This collection of the publications of the State of Idaho and its subdivisions, including the University of Idaho, is considered to be one of the most complete in existence. 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.

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.

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.

Manuscripts and Archives

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 over 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.

Search & Browse Our Manuscript Collections

Historical Photograph Collections

These collections consist of photographs in glass negative, negative, and print forms of life, people, and environments in Moscow and the University and surrounding areas. These images date from the mid-late 19th century to the 1970s and 1980s and record many events and places. Several of the Special Collection Historical Photograph Collections have been digitized by UI Library Digital Initiatives and can be viewed through their website.

Search & Browse Our Photograph Collections Search & Browse for Individual Photographs

University Archives

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.

Search & Browse University Archive Collections

International Jazz Collections

The International Jazz Collection was formally established at the University of Idaho in 2000, and features papers and photographs of the legendary Lionel Hampton. Other important jazz figures 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 and Archives Department 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.

Go to the International Jazz Collections Website