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Finding aids are online guides to selected historical records and papers in the Archives and Special Collections.

More about Finding Aids at the University Libraries

Digitized images from the University Libraries' Archives and Special Collections are available through the UMedia Archive.

Search for cataloged books, journals, and records from the University Libraries

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The Digital Conservancy is the "digital arm" of the University Archives and provides access to digital scholarly and administrative records of the University of Minnesota.

Learn more about the Digital Conservancy.


Finding and Using Sources in Archives and Special Collections

Welcome to the University of Minnesota Libraries Archives and Special Collections researcher information pages. These pages will help you get started with general research tips and information about how to find sources in Archives and Special Collections. Ready to start searching?

Use the search box on this page.

You are encouraged to consult with staff members about your research. For information about the collections or to make an appointment, please contact a staff member in one of the archives or special collections units. Staff may be able to help identify sources of information relevant to your interests but cannot undertake extensive research projects. In most cases, off-site research requests can only be answered if they are sufficiently specific.

Know your search options.
Finding Aids. Search over 4300 inventories of sources in Archives and Special Collections. Important! This search feature does not include all collections. If you don’t find what you are looking for, contact Archives and Special Collections staff. Tip: If you don't get any results, try terms that were used in the era you are researching. For example, the historical term "hygiene" gets more results than the modern term "wellness."

MNCAT, the University of Minnesota Library catalog, lists some of the books, periodicals and collections.

UMedia contains digital images and records from Archives and Special Collections.

Digital Conservancy provides access to institutional digital resources.

Archives and Special Collections Web Sites may also include lists of collections, links to digital content, online exhibits and other resources. Additional information you should know. Can I check out books? No. Materials in ASC are non-circulating. This means that they cannot be checked out and do not leave the building. Researchers may use the collections in the reading room during business hours. Looking for the Minnesota Library Access Center? If you found a book or journal in the library catalog that is listed as “IN STORAGE: MN Lib Access Ctr” in Andersen Library, the item you need is in the Minnesota Library Access Center (MLAC). MLAC is also in Elmer L. Andersen Library, but is a separate department operated by the Minitex information and resource sharing agency. • To request a book from MLAC

  • Click on “Get It” on the left-hand side of the online record in the MNCAT library catalog.
  • Next, select the library where you would like to pick up the book. You do not need to come to Andersen Library.

• MLAC information and forms for requesting books from storage are available at Minitex requests

Using the Archives and Special Collections

Making an appointment

Visiting the Archives Driving/parking directions, housing and dining information for long-term researchers. In addition, there is information about public transportation options:

Using Materials in the Reading Room Learn about the procedures and guidelines for visiting our building and for using archival or special collections materials in the Reading Room.

Archives & Special Collections


We have recently opened our new reading room in the Maxine Houghton Wallin Special Collections Research Center on the ground floor of Andersen Library. All researchers should go to the Wallin Center (Room 15) on the ground floor of Andersen Library for assistance.

The University of Minnesota Libraries’ Department of Archives and Special Collections (ASC) collects and preserves an amazing array of materials that support interdisciplinary research. The collections are available to anyone with a desire to explore, discover and learn. ASC supports teaching and learning for the University community, K-12, and lifelong learners, and sponsors an active array of exhibitions and programs that are open to the public.


Use collection guides (or finding aids) that describe a collection of archival records, personal papers, or manuscripts to locate material for your research. The guide may be a brief summary or a detailed description and inventory.
Search our digital collections of images, maps, films and videos, audio tapes, rare volumes and publications, and select items from archival collections.
Explore the University of Minnesota Libraries catalog for information about rare and special books, periodicals, and other publications held by Archives and Special Collections units.

Our collections

Charles Babbage Institute Archives

As both archives and research center, CBI promotes the study and understanding of the history of information technology and its impact on society.

Children's Literature Research Collections

The Children's Literature Research Collections holds books, comics, story papers, dime novels, and other materials related to the creation of children’s literature, including original manuscripts and artwork.

Givens Collection of African American Literature

The Givens Collection facilitates access to African American history and culture through its rare book and archival collections, and through Umbra Search.

Immigration History Research Center Archives

The Immigration History Research Center Archives documents im/migration to the United States from 1850 to the present, with materials created largely by immigrants and social service providers.

James Ford Bell Library

The Bell Library documents the history and impact of trade and cross-cultural contact around the globe prior to 1825 C.E.  More than 15 languages are represented in rare books, manuscripts/archival collections, and maps.

Kautz Family YMCA Archives

The YMCA Archives documents one of the nation’s largest and oldest nonprofits and its programs to support social welfare, spiritual and mental development, and physical education.

Northwest Architectural Archives

The Northwest Architectural Archives is the repository for the records of architects, engineers, contractors, landscape architects, interior designers, and local professional societies from the Midwest region.

Performing Arts Archives

Preserving Minnesota’s cultural legacy in music, theater, and dance, the Archives holds scripts, prompt books, costume and set designs, photos, and AV recordings from organizations, actors, designers, and directors.

Sherlock Holmes Collection

The Sherlock Holmes Collections constitute the largest gathering of material documenting the transformation of Holmes from a Victorian literary creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to a 21st century pop culture icon.

Social Welfare History Archives

The Archives documents the history of social service programs, policies, and organizations; the evolution of the social work profession; and social reform movements.

Special Collections and Rare Books

SCRB serves as the University Libraries’ general repository for publications that require special handling due to rarity, age, value, or fragility.

Tretter Collection

The Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies includes published materials, organizational records, and personal papers providing insights into the GLBT experience, and is the home of the Tretter Transgender Oral History Project.

University Archives

University Archives is the institutional home for historical documents, departmental collections, data, photographs, publications, and websites of the University, including faculty papers and research and administrative records.

Upper Midwest Jewish Archives

UMJA has materials illustrating the American Jewish experience from a Midwestern perspective, chronicling the activities of supporting ethnic/religious communities and advocacy organizations.

Upper Midwest Literary Archives

The resources in the Upper Midwest Literary Archives are integral to the study of literary history, independent publishing, and writers of the Upper Midwest.


Special collections in other locations

Andersen Horticultural Library

Located at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen, the AHL is the largest horticultural library in the Upper Midwest, focusing on plants, gardening, botanical art, landscape and floral design, garden history, and the natural history of Minnesota.

Wangensteen Library of Biology and Medicine

Located in Diehl Hall on the East Bank campus, the Wangensteen Library for historical medical research houses 80,000 rare books, journals, and manuscripts in diverse medical and biological subjects spanning from approximately 1430 to 1930.


Summer Hours

Our Summer hours are 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please note that due to class meetings, group presentations, and special events, the reading room may be closed. To confirm hours for a particular day, please contact the Bell at 612.624.1528 or We continue to accept appointments outside posted hours, including evenings and weekends, subject to staff availability and building hours. The following closures have been scheduled for 2016 and are subject to change: University Closed Monday, July 4: University Closed Monday, September 5  Learn More


Library Carrel Application for University of Minnesota Faculty

The Libraries have two locations with carrels, Wilson Library (West Bank) and Magrath Library (St. Paul Campus). Magrath Library has a limited number of carrels (nine) for faculty and graduate students. Carrels are intended to provide study space for projects/research work, for which library material is needed. Carrels are not intended to serve as offices, conference rooms, storage space or offices for teaching/research assistants.

NEH Grant: Maps in Books Project

Project Update: Students and staff have been trained, procedures finalized, and we've already reviewed more than 200 books and located 200 maps!
The James Ford Bell Library has received a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to inventory, digitize,and make available online all of the maps in its more than 10,000 books. This project, Revealing Maps: Preserving and Creating Access to the Bound Maps in the James Ford Bell Library Collection, will make accessible 20,000-30,000 maps over the course of the 3-year project, which began June 1, 2011. When completed in 2014, this map collection will be the largest available online that features maps made prior to ca. 1800 CE.

NEH LogoNEH Logo

The National Endowment for the Humanities: Because democracy demands wisdom.

1911 Florence Burrell Normal School

Listed in YMCA Yearbook for Date: 
Burrell Normal School

1911 Fessenden Fessenden Academy

Listed in YMCA Yearbook for Date: 
Fessenden Academy