Southwestern University

Distinctive Collections

Southwestern University is home to a phenomenal archive of historical records, documents, rare books, manuscripts and other fascinating materials.


Megan Firestone

Megan Firestone

Head of Distinctive Collections and Archives

Megan Firestone

Megan Firestone

Head of Distinctive Collections and Archives

Special Collections
Special Collections (Credit: Southwestern University)

Our Distinctive Collections is housed on the second floor of The A. Frank Smith, Jr. Library, and students, faculty, staff, alumni and the general public are encouraged to visit and utilize the resources. Although the materials may not be checked out, they are available for research and learning opportunities. We have a museum-like collection, but unlike a traditional museum we encourage users to engage with our materials. You can hold a rare book, read a historic manuscript or examine a piece of Texas history.

Our Collections

Southwestern Distinctive Collections includes over 20,000 rare books and over 1,500 linear feet of archival material. More information about collections can be found on the collections tab. Collection strengths include:

  • Texana - Books or materials about Texas history, or other Texas-related subjects
  • John Tower - Senator Tower’s personal and Senate papers are held in Distinctive Collections
  • Frank Dobie - Manuscripts and printed items by or about SU alumnus J. Frank Dobie
  • Fine Press Books - Handmade books, including books from the Arion Press, Russell Maret, and Two Ponds Press.
  • Local History - Materials about Georgetown and Williamson County
  • Southwestern History - History of Southwestern University and the root colleges
  • Items requested or specifically used to support the classes/studies of current students

The oldest item in Distinctive Collections is a cuneiform tablet from approximately 2000 BCE.

Southwestern students and faculty greatly benefit from having access to these archives. They are often used for research in classes, and we encourage students to take advantage of our staff and resources.


Distinctive Collections Blog

Image from the Georgetown Aerial Digital Collection.

What’s New in Special Collections - September 2023

This monthly post will update our readers about archival collections that have been processed, updated finding aids, and additions to our print holdings. These items are just a sampling of the many resources available in SU Special Collections and Archives. For more information email:

Alamo and San Jacinto Literary Society 

Documenting Student Organizations

An introduction to a bi-monthly blog post on the uncoverings of past to present student organizations at Southwestern University.  

One of Wynkyn de Worde's devices reproduced by Grabhorn Press.  

Book as Artifact, Artifact as Book: Part Five