Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections
Since its founding in 1946, the Department of Special Collections has become the repository for one of the country's leading collections of rare books, manuscripts, historic photographs, and other special materials.
Among its 333,000 rare books are the Ahmanson-Murphy Aldine Collection, the Michael Sadleir Collection of Nineteenth-Century British Fiction, the Children's Book Collection, the Elmer Belt Library of Vinciana, and the Nitka Collection of Fantastic Fiction. The department also houses extensive holdings of historical and contemporary Californiana, modern fine press printing, fine bindings, and artists' books.
In addition, the department possesses the largest collection of archival materials in the state of California. Highlights include the papers of Susan Sontag, Raymond Chandler, Aldous Huxley, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche, as well as collections related to Southern California architecture; dance and Isadora Duncan; Asian American history, particularly the relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II; and the Orsini, an Italian noble family whose members were crucial power players in Italy from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century.
The department's photographic collections are extensive and include the works of many of the most celebrated practitioners of the art, such as Ansel Adams, Julia Margaret Cameron, Eadweard Muybridge, William Henry Fox Talbot, Carleton Watkins, and Edward Weston. The department also houses the photographic archives of the Los Angeles Times (1920-1990) and the Los Angeles Daily News (1923-1954).
The Department of Special Collections is located on the lower level of the Research Library, at the foot of the central staircase.
All readers eighteen or older are welcome. However, it is necessary to obtain an access card by showing a government-issued ID and to register as a special collections reader.
- Center for Primary Research and Training: Matches graduate students with unprocessed, or hidden, collections; trains them in archival methods; and thus brings important collections to light.
- Research Library Department of Special Collections archival collections
- Online Archive of California: Search any of the one-hundred-plus contributing libraries
- Near Eastern Manuscripts: Caro Minasian Collection Digitization Project
- Calisphere/California Cultures
- James and Sylvia Thayer Short-Term Research Fellowships