Answered By: Bryan Kasik
Last Updated: May 30, 2018     Views: 8

The Special Collections Library contains more than 13 million manuscripts, 3.6 million items in the University archives, and 325,000 rare books, as well as thousands of maps, broadsides, photographs and small prints. We also have audio recordings, motion picture films, and ephemera. We are known primarily for our American history and American literature collections. In 1832, the University of Virginia was deeded the papers of the Lee Family of Virginia, written between 1742 and 1795. These papers comprised the original foundation of the present manuscript collections.

Significant items you can mention:

-Babylonian Clay tablets, dated 2350 B.C.

-Leaf of the Guttenberg Bible (first printed book, 1450) – from the Book of Ezekiel

-About 30 Medieval Manuscripts/Illumintated manuscripts (hand written, before invention of printing), as well as 200 fragments

-Letters and papers of Thomas Jefferson and other US presidents including James Madison, George Washington, James Monroe, Woodrow Wilson

-The Clifton Waller Barrett collection is very significant and contains nearly a complete collection of the works of every major American writer from 1775 to 1950. Authors include: Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen Crane, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, Walt Whitman, Anne Spencer, and Washington Irving, just to name a few. This can be first editions as well as book and story manuscripts and letters to family, friends and editors.

-We have all but one of William Faulkner’s manuscripts and a sizeable collection of manuscripts and early editions of the works of Robert Frost.

Largest item: John Boydell's "The American Edition of Boydell's Illustrations of the Dramatic Works of Shakespeare, by the Most Eminent Artists of Great Britain." This 1852 book is 72 by 57 centimeters.

Smallest item: Lindemann 001

Weirdest item: Bone fragment from the skull of Revolutionary war soldier David Steele, 1781 - he survived and later wore a silver plate over it.

We are a major collector of Virginiana and have a series of important papers, largely nineteenth century, of many prominent Virginia families: Lee, Randolph, Berkeley, Cocke, Cabell, Carr, Tucker, Barbour, Bruce, Carter, among others.

We house many Civil War diaries and letters written by soldiers and families, as well as correspondence by officers including Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and John S. Mosby.

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