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.



Dear Elmer L. Andersen Library patrons and members of the community,

Please know that we are responding to a quickly changing situation. Your health and well-being, and that of our community, are of the utmost importance to the University of Minnesota. Due to the threat of spreading COVID-19, Elmer L. Andersen Library is closed until further notice. The University of Minnesota is working closely with public health officials and will continue to assess the ongoing need for these restrictions. Thank you for your partnership and patience as we all work together to keep our community healthy. I remind you that while most of our Archives and Special collections records are not digitized, UMedia provides access to images, maps, manuscripts, video, audio and more.

Kris Kiesling

Director, Archives & Special Collections



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.