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Jean & Alexander Heard Libraries

Special Collections
and University Archives

About Special Collections

Reading Room

Welcome to the Special Collections Library at Vanderbilt University! The mission of Special Collections is to preserve, store, and provide access to Vanderbilt University's impressive collection of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, memorabilia, and institutional archives.

Special Collections supplies primary resource material to a variety of local, national, and international scholars each year. It houses one of the finest twentieth-century Southern literature collections in the United States and is the center for the study of the Fugitive and Agrarian literary groups. Other popular subjects include Southern history and culture, women's issues, civil rights, religious studies, performing arts, and Latin American history, especially Colombian and Afro-Colombian history. Our Collection Development policy further details collecting areas.

For information about our other distinctive collections, please visit the Collections Overview page.


Using our Materials

Special Collections welcomes researchers from all over to use our rich collections. All of our materials may only be viewed in the reading room of Special Collections in the Central Library building. We ask that you request materials you may be interested in at least 2-3 days in advance, as many of our materials are stored in an off-site repository.

The Visit Us page has more specific information on where we are located and how to find us.


Vanderbilt Campus 1875

Finding Materials

There are a variety of ways to discover Special Collections material. Rare books may be found and requested by using the library’s online Catalog. All manuscript collections and publicly available University Archives collections are made discoverable through finding aids contained in ArchivesSpace. Finally, Vanderbilt Libraries also has an online database of Digital Collections that may be searched for materials.

For information on how to request items from our collections, please refer to the Request Materials page. For all other requests, feel free to contact us.