Holdings of the Special Collections Department of the University of Delaware Library include books, manuscripts, maps, prints, photographs, broadsides, periodicals, pamphlets, ephemera, and realia from the fifteenth century to the present.
The collections complement the Library's general collections with particular strengths in the subject areas of the arts; English, Irish, and American literature; history and Delawareana; horticulture; and history of science and technology. The University of Delaware Archives is separately administered and comprises university records and history of the institution.
The printed collections of Special Collections are fully cataloged with records available in the Library's online catalog, DELCAT. Only a few manuscript collections are currently cataloged, but future plans include cataloging all manuscript collections with records available in DELCAT. Unpublished finding aids to manuscript collections are available in Special Collections, and some of these have been posted on the Library's server for access via the Internet. For assistance of any kind, please ask Special Collections.
The histories of fine, decorative, and applied arts are collection strengths which complement research interests of the University's programs in art history and conservation. The art of the book, the history of printing and the graphic arts, and the history of papermaking and fine printing are subjects represented in both printed and manuscript collections. The Mark Samuels Lasner Collection focuses on British art of the period 1850 to 1900, with an emphasis on the Pre-Raphaelites and on the writers and illustrators of the 1890s. In addition to books, manuals, specimen books, and printers' catalogs, Special Collections holds the archives of several small presses, notably the Bird & Bull Press, the Black Stone Press, the Pickering Press, the Plough Press, and the Pentagram Press.
Manuscript collections include small groups of material related to Gertrude Kasebier, John DePol, Katherine Pyle, and Howard Pyle; as well as the papers of Fridolf Johnson and Abraham Colish, and the extensive Lloyd Goodrich and Edith Havens Goodrich - Albert Pinkham Ryder Archive.
Holdings in English literature are concentrated for the century 1750 to 1850 with strengths in Romantic poetry and prose. Comprehensive printed collections include Rudyard Kipling, John Galsworthy, the Hogarth Press, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell.
The Mark Samuels Lasner Collection features British literature from the period 1850-1900, including 7,000 first and other editions, with many signed and assocation copies.
Noteworthy manuscript collections include the papers of Elizabeth Jennings and the Scottish author Christopher Grieve (Hugh MacDiarmid). In addition to collections, Special Collections holds numerous individual letters and unique items related to English literature and all of the other subject areas described here.
Irish literature from the 1700s to the present is collected with strong representation of the Irish Literary Renaissance and later twentieth century authors. The Library has extensive holdings of publications from the Dun Emer Press and Cuala Press. Other major collections include Padraic Colum, Lord Dunsany, Lady Gregory, James Joyce, George Moore, Sean O'Casey, George Bernard Shaw, J.M. Synge, and W.B. Yeats. Special Collections houses strong collections of the work of virtually every twentieth-century Irish author. Manuscripts include correspondence between W.B. Yeats and Shri Purohit Swami, and papers of Jack B. Yeats, Lennox Robinson, Sean O'Faolain, Frank J. Hugh O'Donnell, Ulick O'Connor, Brian Coffey, and the archives of the Proscenium Press and the Raven Arts Press.
Comprehensive holdings in American literature include Theodore Dreiser, William Faulkner, John O'Hara, Ernest Hemingway, Herman Melville, Howard Pyle, Carl Sandburg, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry David Thoreau, and many others. Literary manuscript collections include the papers of Kay Boyle, John Malcolm Brinnin, Paul Bowles, Emily Holmes Coleman, Alice Dunbar Nelson, Donald Justice, Mark Harris, Ishmael Reed, Ernest Hemingway, W.D. Snodgrass, Gilbert Sorrentino, Louis Untermeyer, Jane Heap, Kurt Vonnegut, Tennessee Williams, and the archives of Pagany, A Native Quarterly.
History & Delawareana
All aspects of English and American history are represented from the sixteenth century onward, and a significant collection on French political theory and statecraft is included in Special Collections holdings. A number of works concern travel and exploration, and the history of Delaware from its settlement by the Swedes in 1638 to the present is the focus of the Delaware Collection.
Historical manuscripts and archives include the papers, letters, diaries, photographs, account books, ledgers, and records of individuals, families, and organizations. Regional strengths are Newark and New Castle County, Delaware, and the greater Philadelphia area. Several collections document Delaware politics and political history. These holdings include the personal papers of Representative Thomas R. Carper, and senators George Gray, Willard Saulsbury, Willard Saulsbury, Jr., J. Allen Frear, and John J. Williams. Collections of broader historical import include the George Handy Bates Samoan Papers, and the papers of career diplomat George S. Messersmith.
Science & Technology
Holdings in the history of science and technology complement the University program strengths in chemistry and engineering. In addition, the history of American horticulture is richly recorded in books, periodicals, seed catalogs, trade catalogs, prints, broadsides, and the papers of horticulturist and landscape architect Armistead W. Browning.