• In Special Collections at Southwestern University, we create physical and virtual spaces to experience the history of Southwestern University and Texas as well as the heritage of the printed and written word. We aim to use these spaces and our collections to create meaningful experiences for anyone, regardless of purpose.

    To this end, special collections holds books, manuscripts, and objects of historical and scholarly value that support undergraduate teaching and research, research by Southwestern faculty members, and research by the wider community of scholars. Though we collect with these groups in mind, our collections are open to all who want to use them.

    As of September 2017, Special Collections holds 19,861 volumes, in addition to 1,390 linear feet of archival and manuscript collections. We also have several pieces of furniture in the Special Collections space as well, made by the Belford Lumber Company, or related to the Alamo and San Jacinto societies.

    The two areas most comprehensively collected are Texana and Texas History, in addition to the history of Southwestern University and her four root colleges - Rutersville, Wesleyan, Soule, and McKenzie. While Texana is not a unique area of collecting, a blending of historical and contemporary items are. Furthermore, the collections we have of SU related history are unique. Therefore we seek to actively collect and maintain these collections’ status as research level collections.

    Special Collections also holds the professional papers of Senator John Tower, and continues to selectively collect objects, books, and papers related to the life and career of John Tower. This is a unique holding, and we seek to maintain this area as a research level collection.

    The Carl Hertzog collection in Special Collections is among the largest in the world. As Hertzog was a Texas fine press printer, we seek to maintain this collection at a research level.

    The department holds and collects books and objects related to J. Frank Dobie. Other institutions (the University of Texas and Texas State) collect at a higher level related to J. Frank Dobie, but our collections are strong in this area. We seek to maintain this collection at a study or instructional support level.

    Due to generous gifts, Special Collections holds a reasonable collection of fine press books, especially those printed by Arion Press, and The Book Club of Texas. Also, the department holds a number of fine press books related to Texas. The department seeks to maintain this collection with occasional acquisitions at a study or instructional support level.

    Other subjects and topics named below are not actively collected by the department. 

    Named Collections
    • This collection consists of journals, artifacts, files, and documents related to the operation of the Belford Lumber Company. The Belford Lumber Company was a well-known and respected business that operated in Georgetown, Texas, from 1891 until 1967.

    • The Hertzog collection at Southwestern seeks to collect all known printed work by Hertzog, as he was a Texas fine press printer.

    • John Goodwin Tower a Southwestern alumnus, represented Texas in the United States Senate from 1961 through 1984. Before his retirement, he named Southwestern University as the official repository for his papers. The approximately 800 linear feet of materials primarily reflect his Senate activities and include documents, legislative files, correspondence, speeches, campaign items, photographs, and audiovisual materials. Materials from before the beginning of his Senate career concern his family, education, and teaching career. Later items document his writings and his post-Senate appointments, including his nomination as Secretary of Defense.

      The library also holds several smaller related accessions, including the papers of political consultant and writer John Knaggs and of Senator Tower’s legislative aide, J. French Hill.

    • One of the largest special collections in the nation among schools of Southwestern’s size, the Edward A. Clark Collection was a gift of more than 2,400 volumes donated in 1965 from the private collection of Ambassador Edward A. Clark. It is rich in basic, printed materials for the period of the Republic of Texas (1836-1845), the annexation by the United States (1845) and Reconstruction (1865). Also included in this collection are a number of periodicals, photographs and other printed materials. Since Clark’s original gift, the collection has grown to more than 10,000 items, including more than 7,000 books.

    • Alpha Chi was founded on campus in 1922. Southwestern University is the official repository for their records. Current materials are continuously added to this series.

    • Book Club of Texas publications

      Arion Press publications

      Other fine press titles

    • A collection of 542 titles rich in early J. Frank Dobie materials, it included contributions made by the noted folklorist and author to the university’s yearbook, the Sou’wester, proof copies and manuscripts of many of his books, and a complete collection of all his printed works.

    • The Bertha McKee Dobie Collection contains a large collection of her correspondence, memorabilia, manuscripts, personal documents and books from the personal library of the wife of the noted author, J. Frank Dobie.

    • Ames was a well-known suffragist and anti-lynching activist. This small collection reflects her retirement interests and activities and primarily contains clippings, articles, and cartoons related to politics and social issues. She placed many of these into scrapbooks on specific subjects, such as “The Negro and the Schools, 1954-1956” and “Foreign Policy and Foreign Relations, 1954-1958.” One document case contains personal notes and correspondence, most of which is with family members, especially her daughter, Lulu. Ames, a Southwestern University alumna (1902), also donated a large portion of her library to the University.

    • Through the years complete libraries of several ministries were given: Rev. Homer S. Thrall, Rev. R.G. Mood, Rev. C.M. Bishop, Dr. H.L. Gray, Rev. F.L. Batchelor and Rev. Bruce Galloway. Some of the libraries include Methodist Conference Minutes and other books that help form our collection on Methodism.

    • May Peterson was an internationally acclaimed opera singer whose career flourished in the early 1900s. Her collection includes her sheet music as well as her personal papers.

    • The Duncan E. Osborne Collection of Herman Melville, on loan, contains papers and memorabilia pertaining to his great-great-grandfather. Of particular note is a letter from Herman Melville to his aunt Lucy Melville written in 1828 when he was 9 years old.

    • The Henry E. Meyer Hymnal Collection of 106 volumes contains hymnals, Bibles and religious texts. Some of the items unique to the collection are a hymnal in the Delaware Indian language, an English Old Version Psalm Book and the first Wesleyan Hymn Book. Many of the books are more than 100 years old and have fine leather bindings handsomely embossed with gold.

    • The Jackson/Greenwood Collection is very large and consists of several areas of interest including literature, religion and Methodism among others. The Collection features 19th century English and American literary titles; Wesleyana materials focusing on the extensive Wesley family; history of religion, including an English translation from the Greek of Eusebius’ History of the Church; Methodism and church history, including journals, such as the Arminian Magazine and Martin Luther’s Artzneybuch (Doctor Book); books issued to German prisoners of war in San Antonio; and books about China. A collection of correspondence, issues of The Emancipator, picture postcards and personal papers belonging to Bishop John Cowper Granbery and his family are part of this collection. A large collection of youth titles including an extensive selection of Horatio Alger’s books and Martha Finley’s Elsie Dinsmore stories, as well as a number of works by L. Frank Baum, is included.

    • A large set of maps, the Cox Map Collection features maps of early 19th century through the mid-20th century. Maps of all parts of the world are included.

    • Chronicled in a collection of 49 printed works is the life of Aaron Burr with highlights of his career, trials and memoirs. The collection was donated by Ambassador Edward A. Clark.

    • Collected during the time that Edward A. Clark was ambassador to Australia in the 1960’s, this collection of 240 titles includes works on natural history, social life and customs, art, literature, ethnology and history.


    Collection depth indicator definitions:

    0 = out of scope
    1 = minimal information level
    2 = basic information level
    3 = study or instructional support level
     4 = research level
    5 = comprehensive level

  • Special Collections at Southwestern University seeks to provide you, our user, with the highest levels of service possible. To this end, your cameras and cell phones are welcome to be brought into our reading room. However, if you would like a scan or a copy of an item you are using, let our staff in the reading room know and we will provide a high quality scan or copy to you upon request - the product of which will be much better than what your camera or phone can provide!

    Please let us know if you have any questions.


    • Photographs may be used only for private study, scholarship and research.
    • Do not publish the photographs in print, post them on the Internet, or exhibit them without permission
    • Images may not be donated, sold, or provided to another repository.
    • Publication-quality images must be requested from the library.
    • It is the user’s responsibility to obtain permission to publish from Special Collections staff or the appropriate copyright owners.


    The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

    This institution reserves the right to refuse a photography request when, in its judgment, fulfillment of the request would involve violation of copyright law.

    Download Camera Policy Form

  • We’d like to highlight some key policies to help you have the best experience with our materials:

    1.  All readers must present identification and be registered by staff. Please sign in with staff on subsequent visits.
    2. Readers are required to place all book bags, briefcases, knapsacks, portfolios, and any other personal property not essential to their work, in the lockers provided in the reception area.
    3. Rare books and manuscripts are to be consulted only in the reading room.                                         
    4. Please use an individual request slip for each book or box you wish to use.
    5. To ensure that our materials serve the needs of future researchers, only pencils may be used in the reading room, no pens or ink.
    6. Food, tobacco, chewing gum, and beverages are not permitted.
    7. Materials must be handled with care, we will be happy to show you how to carefully handle our materials.
    8. While cameras may be brought into the reading room, we would be happy to scan an item you like. If you’d like a scan of an item, please discuss this with the reading room attendant.
    9. Our materials are light sensitive. The use of flash cameras, and recording equipment is prohibited without special permission.
    10. No requests for manuscripts, rare materials, or photocopies will be accepted after 4:00 PM for that day’s use.
    11. Researchers assume full responsibility for conforming to the laws of copyright, literary property rights, and libel.

    Research assistance and guidance is available from the Special Collections staff.