About Special Collections
The Department of Special Collections and University Archives is the principal repository for Stanford’s holdings of rare books, manuscripts, and other materials requiring special care and knowledge. The University Archives holds the historically valuable and legally significant records of the University and Stanford community members. Ranging in date from third century B.C. papyri to the latest Stanford Daily, the collections cover numerous subject areas, including history of science, history of Silicon Valley, classical to modern and contemporary literature, Californiana and Western history, the arts, the Mexican American experience, and of course, the history of Stanford.
The mission of the department is to support teaching and research. Each year hundreds of undergraduate students visit the department to explore the available riches. Over the years students have written papers or produced projects for Program in Writing and Rhetoric classes on such topics as Jane Stanford’s death, frontier medicine, student pranks, Leland Stanford as businessman, Eadweard Muybridge and the early motion picture, the segregation of Chinese and the creation of Chinatowns, conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War, the Bear Flag Revolt, the Pony Express, and typhoid fever during the Gold Rush. Students use printed works, manuscripts, photographs, prints, architectural drawings, and objects in their research.
In using the resources of Special Collections and University Archives, students are introduced to the world of collecting and the importance of documenting important activities and moments in time. And current students see what previous students, now alumni, have contributed to the University Archives to tell their storydorm t-shirts, letters written home, hatsfrom freshman beanies to senior sombreros, and course work completed while at Stanford. Entering the world of Special Collections and University Archives can be an exciting, stimulating, learning experience. We hope you join the many students who have come before you and make use of these wonderful resources.