Description of the Collections

1917 black and white panoramic photograph of the University of Idaho campus, featuring rolling hills and the College Gothic style administration building

Special Collections and Archives specializes in archival materials that document the history and culture of Idaho and the University of Idaho. Our holdings contain over 25,000 linear feet of rare, unique, and valuable materials.

These materials are available for research use by faculty, staff, students, visiting scholars, and the public in the Special Collections Reading Room. Most collections are described by finding aids hosted on Archives West, a searchable repository of archival finding aids from throughout the Northwest.

Collection Types

Materials housed in Special Collections and Archives typically fall into one of three categories, based on the format of the physical items: manuscript collections, photograph collections, and book collections.


We hold over 6,000 cubic feet of manuscript collections that include, but are not limited to: personal papers of individuals and families; business records from the lumber, railroad, and mining industries; papers of government officials, educators, authors, and artists; organizational and association records of religious, fraternal, civic, environmental, and non-profit groups.

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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.

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We have around 24,000 rare and unique books and university theses in our book collections. These include books written by specific authors, such as Ezra Pound, Sir Walter Scott, and Mark Twain, university theses and dissertations, and State of Idaho publications.

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Collection Strengths

Although our collections cover a wide variety of subjects from across Idaho and the broader Pacific Northwest, the holdings have exceptional coverage of four main collecting areas: jazz, forestry, mining, and the University of Idaho.


The International Jazz Collection (IJC) is the leading jazz archive in the Pacific Northwest. It features papers, photographs, audio/visual materials, and artifacts from jazz legends such as Lionel Hampton, Leonard Feather, Lee Morse, Dizzy Gillespie, and Ella Fitzgerald.

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Our collections feature a vast amount of information related to Idaho’s forests - from lumber companies, forestry sciences, and the history of Idaho’s forests. Several of these collections have been turned into digital collections.

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Our collections feature an extensive amount of information related to Idaho’s mining industry, including mining company records and photographs of mining towns and miners.

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We seek to document the broad history of the University of Idaho and collect administrative records, university programs and event records, departmental histories, faculty publications and papers, student residence and Greek life, photographs of campus and events, and student groups/clubs.

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