The Sherlock Holmes Collections at the University of Minnesota Library constitute the world's largest gathering of material related to Sherlock Holmes and his creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Collections consist of over 60,000 items including books, journals, and a wide variety of other forms through which the transformation of the Holmes character from the printed page to a cultural icon can be traced. Items in the Collections include:
SHERLOCK HOLMES STORIES by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Between 1887 and 1927 Conan Doyle wrote four novels and fifty-six short stories featuring the Holmes character. The Collections include a wide range of English language editions of these works, plus translations in over fifty other languages.
SHERLOCK HOLMES STORIES by Other Writers. Following in the footsteps of Sir Arthur, many writers have taken their own turn at creating a Holmes adventure. These imitations or pastiches have included works by Isaac Asimov, Agatha Christie, Adrian Conan Doyle (Sir Arthur's son), Stephen King, A.A. Milne, Mark Twain, and P.G. Wodehouse. The Collections have a wide selection, both serious and lighthearted.
WRITINGS ON THE WRITINGS These include commentaries and reference works on almost every aspect of the Holmes stories and the Victorian Era in which they are set.
SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE If one wants to know more about the creator of Sherlock Holmes, the Collections have biographical material, as well as Conan Doyle's own works of non-Sherlockian fiction and nonfiction.
JOURNALS AND PERIODICALS The Collections hold numerous journals from Sherlock Holmes appreciation societies throughout the world. The journal collection includes complete holdings of the Baker Street Journal, from the Baker Street Irregulars of New York, and The Sherlock Holmes Journal from the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. Copies of The Strand Magazine, where many of the Holmes stories first appeared, are also available for consultation.
SCRAPBOOKS The scrapbooks contain exhaustive clippings from periodicals which mention Holmes or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The scrapbooks were assembled by John Bennett Shaw and they include material from 1869 to 1994.
THE PERFORMING ARTS The performing arts material includes audio and video recordings, musical scores, posters, scripts, theater programs, and other material related to Holmes productions.
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND POPULAR CULTURE Numerous artifacts document the iconographic development and universal appeal of Sherlock Holmes. The typical deerstalker hat, magnifying glass and curved pipe associated with Holmes are represented in their many mediums.
HISTORY OF THE COLLECTIONS The Sherlock Holmes Collections began in 1974 with the purchase of James C. Iraldi's small but distinguished library of first editions of the Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Two of the more important collections of the many that have been added since 1974 are those of Philip S. and Mary Kahler Hench and John Bennett Shaw. Philip S. Hench M.D., was a Mayo Clinic consulting physician and a recipient of the Nobel Prize for medicine (1950), who, with his wife Mary Kahler Hench, built one of the more remarkable Sherlockian libraries ever assembled. The treasures of the Hench library include: unique copies of Beeton's Christmas Annual, (1887) containing A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes adventure; English and American first editions of the stories; plus material related to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, William Gillette, and Frederic Dorr Steele. John Bennett Shaw, an entrepreneur from Santa Fe, New Mexico attempted to collect everything on or about Sherlock Holmes and nearly succeeded. The Shaw Collection is the most diverse, with items running the gamut from books to stuffed animals.
For more information on the history of the collection see Timothy J. Johnson, "The Adventure of the Unopened Box: Building the Sherlock Holmes Collections at the University of Minnesota Libraries," Collection Management 29 (3/4) 2004:121-141