Michigan State University

Special Collections contains over 450,000 printed works, numerous manuscript and archival collections, and an extensive collection of ephemera. Listed below are some of the highlights of our materials.  Please also search our finding aid database and web archives portal.

Africana

Africana Special Collections contain rich and extensive holdings of books, manuscript collections, photography, serials, posters, and ephemera, focusing on the 20th century. Our Africana collections extend the geographic scope of our collection development priorities of popular culture and radicalism/activism, with numerous comics, cookbooks, and posters from the African continent. Manuscript collections further expand our unique holdings, with particular strengths in archives of the Senegambia, the horn of Africa, and southern Africa, many of which are the research materials of professors retired from African Studies at Michigan State.

 

MSU’s Special Collections is also the physical home for many of the collections of the African Activist Archive, which works to preserve the record of activities of organizations and individuals who supported African struggles for freedom between 1960 and 1994. A major focus of the collection is the struggle for independence and political movements throughout Africa, though the collection also documents colonialism and contains material dating back to the seventeenth century.

 

Africana Special Collections complement one of the largest Africana collections in the United States, with materials found throughout the Libraries.

 

For more information, please contact Jessica Martin, Africana Curator.

 

 

Resources

 

Africana Special Collections Collection Development Policy
 

Guide to Research in Africana Special Collections
 

Africana Special Collections in MSUL’s Digital Repository

Book Arts

The Book Arts Collection is made up of books and journals, both modern and historical, that encompass all aspects of the book as a physical structure. Book design, bookbinding, book history, illustration, papermaking and paper decoration, typography, calligraphy, fine press printing, and offset printing are just some of the topics covered in this growing collection.

There is a collection of contemporary artist's books—in simplified terms, books created by artists who have total control over every aspect of the creative process—as well as printed books from the 15th through 20th centuries representing the works of important European and American master printers and binders. The MSU Libraries’ Artists’ Books Collection includes over 350 titles by a wide variety of artists including Laura Davidson, Julie Chen, and Emily Martin. The Cuban Artists’ Books Collection contains nearly 200 titles, created by individuals at Ediciones Vigía, an artists’ cooperative that has produced limited-edition books since 1985. Artists’ books can take any format, from a traditional codex to a tunnel book, and they offer a non-traditional yet innovative approach to the relationship between book and reader.

Also in the collection are realia, a strong collection of illuminated manuscript facsimiles, and thousands of zines of all shapes and persuasions. The Book Arts Collection supports instruction and research for the Book Arts Program in the Residential College for Arts and Humanities, and related endeavors across campus and community.

For more information, please contact Tad Boehmer, Rare Books Curator.
 

Resources

Save America's Treasures Online Exhibit

History of Binding

Artists’ Books Collection

Changing Men

The Changing Men Collections (CMC) comprises the largest research collection of materials about the modern men’s movement in the United States and throughout the world. The collection began in 1990, as a result of a donation to Special Collections of 18 boxes of materials documenting the early history of the National Organization for Changing Men from approximately 1975 to 1985. The collection grew rapidly afterwards with the solicitation of additional materials representing the branches and diverse activities of the contemporary men’s movement, including the work of early pro-feminist “changing men” advocates; father’s rights/men rights; the popularization of mythopoetic ideas by Robert Bly; and a variety of men’s groups, including the Promise Keepers and the Radical Faeries.

The wide ranging collection features books and manuscripts; flyers and pamphlets; realia; organizational files for conferences and events; an international collection of almost 400 periodicals and newsletters published by men’s groups and centers; and archives of leading members of various branches of the men’s movement who have donated their books and papers. These unique collections shed light on the growth and development of the modern men’s movement through the efforts of such people as Bruce Curtis, Peter Cyr, Jeff Beane, Joseph Pleck, Francis Baumli, and Tom Mossmiller. Over 400 vertical files document the development of the men’s movement during the last 25 years. Consisting of research materials on key issues affecting contemporary men there is information on such topics as men’s consciousness raising, masculinity, initiation rites, men in therapy, men’s emotional healing, African American men, battered men, circumcision, anger management, ecomasculinity, teen fathers, relationships, shadow work, men’s supports networks, and the ManKind Project. The files also represent the work of a variety of diverse men’s groups from throughout the world, as well as conference proceedings from the American Men’s Studies Association, Chicago Men’s Gathering, National Conferences on Men & Masculinity, among others.

The Changing Men Collections continues to grow and is supported in part by the Changing Men Collections Endowment Fund.

For more information, please contact Leslie M. Behm.
 

Resources

Adam Matthew’s Gender: Identity and Social Change Online collection

Collection Development Policy

Comic Art

The Comic Art Collection holds over 300,000 items. Most of these items are American comic books, but also included are over 1,000 books of collected newspaper comic strips, over 50,000 international comic books, and several thousand books and periodicals about comics. The international comics are especially strong in the areas of European, Latin American, and Asian comics. 

The collection contains comics published as early as the 1840s up to the present day. Although some archival materials are held, the focus of the collection is on published work in an effort to present a complete picture of what the American comics readership has seen, especially since the middle of the 20th century. 

A collection of this size and scope would not be possible without donations from our generous supporters over the years. Though we do purchase some comics, the majority of our collection was acquired through gift-in-kind donations. 

Special Collections is home to the largest and most comprehensive collection of comic books in the world, but our work doesn’t end with collecting. We are also committed to maintaining organization of this massive collection and preserving it for many years to come so that is remains accessible for research. The comics are searchable through the library’s online catalog, and they are stored in an environmentally-controlled location in state-of-the-art mylar sleeves for protection. 

Everyone is welcome to visit the Special Collections Reading Room to research and enjoy the comics during open hours.

For more information, please contact Randall Scott, Comic Art Bibliographer.

 

Resources

The Comic Art Collection Homepage - Learn about our collection of foreign and domestic comics. Includes an index of the collection.

Cookery & Food

The Cookery and Food Collection holds over 35,000 cookbooks and food-related items spanning six centuries from all the continents of the world. The beginnings of the collection focused on early English and American cookery thanks to two outstanding donations over 50 years ago from Mary Ross Reynolds and Beatrice Grant, both Home Economics professors at MSU. Since then, collecting has continued to focus on acquiring cookbooks and food-related books to bolster these two strengths as a result of the Beatrice Grant Cookery Endowment, and the additions of the Donna Dixon McDaniel Collection, the Alice McNally Robson and Family Collection, and the Maureen and John Darling Collection.

In the past decade, collecting interests have broadened to highlight diverse and/or under represented cuisine from the United States and the world. Attention has been given to African American cookery, Jewish cookery, African cookery, Latin American cookery, and regions in the Americas involved in the African slave trade. In addition, Asian, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and American ethnic and regional cooking was enhanced with the donation of the William and Yvonne Lockwood Collection of National, Regional, and Ethnic Foodways and the Howard O. Zoggot and Christina L. Feick Asian Cookbook Collection. Community/charity cookbooks throughout the country dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, with special emphasis on the Great Lakes region, are collected and number in the thousands. The Alan and Shirley Brocker Sliker Culinary Ephemera Collection is a vast resource numbering over 20,000 food and cooking items from the last 150 years.

For more information, please contact Jessica Martin.
 

Resources

Early Michigan Community Cookbooks

Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project

Feeding America: Dataset

Little Cookbooks: The Alan and Shirley Brocker Sliker Culinary Collection

What America Ate

Cookbooks at MSU

International Cookbooks

Food and Agricultural Resources

African American Cookbooks

Secondary Sources

Collection Development Policy

 

European History & Culture

Highlights of the European History and Culture Collection include around 5000 volumes on the French monarchy, over 10,000 items relating to the Italian Risorgimento, and over 1500 manuscripts and printed works on European criminology from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century. The eighteenth century British Studies collection is particularly strong in literature, natural history, exploration, and county histories.

The Michigan State University Class of 1959 purchased and donated to the MSU Libraries The London Gazette from its first issue, November 14, 1665, to May 2, 1727—6,600 issues in all of what is considered the first newspaper in the world.

Other strengths include the Charles and Ruth Schmitter Fencing Collection, numbering almost 600 titles in thirteen languages spanning four centuries, this unique research collection rivals any in the country in size, quality, and breadth.

Stemming from donations by Bill and Yvonne Lockwood and the Gypsy Lore Society’s Victor Weybright Archives of Gypsy Studies, Special Collections is becoming a vital resource for Romani/Gypsy Studies in North America.

Highlights include:

  • 5000 volumes on the French monarchy
  • 10,000 items relating to the Italian Risorgimento
  • Strengths in literature, natural history, exploration, and county histories.
  • Other strengths include the Charles and Ruth SchmitterFencing Collection, numbering almost 600 titles in thirteen languages spanning four centuries
  • 6600 issues of The London Gazette, considered to be the first newspaper in the world, from its first issue, November 14, 1665, to May 2, 1727
  • The Bill and Yvonne Lockwood and the Gypsy Lore Society’s Victor WeybrightArchives of Gypsy Studies, Special Collections is becoming a vital resource for Romani/Gypsy Studies in North America.

For more information, please contact Tad Boehmer, Rare Books Curator.
 

Resources

British Studies: 18th Century

William G. Lockwood collection of Romani Ethnology and Gypsy stereotypes

Victor Weybright Archives of Gypsy Studies

José F. Treviño Chicanx/Latinx Activism

The José F. Treviño Chicanx/Latinx Activism Collection was founded in 2000 by curator Diana Rivera. Jose F. Treviño was an MSU employee, student, and campus activist whose efforts were responsible for a significant increase in Chicano and Chicana student enrollment at MSU in the early 1970s. Mr. Treviño was an instructor in the College of Urban Development Department of Racial and Ethnic Studies helping to develop some of the earliest coursework in Chicano Studies at MSU. As an older non-traditional student in the Sociology department, he was an advisor and mentor to the first Chicano student organizations and community activists, including Juana & Jesse GonzalesGilberto V. and Minerva T. MartinezRudy ReyesPedro & Diana RiveraDaniel Tirado and Linda MedinaMiguel Espinoza, and Julio Guerrero. Professors Joseph Spielberg-Benitez, and Gumecindo Salas were contemporaries of Treviño at MSU who also advocated for Chicano students and community. 

In this collection, seminal and primary sources in a variety of formats relating to the, the, local politics in communities including are found through newspapers, photography, audio and visual sources, posters, flyers and leaflets, bumper stickers and political buttons, march banners and other realia.
 

For more information, please contact Andrea Salazar McMillan, Chicanx/Latinx Activism Curator.

Resources

LGBTQ+

The LGBTQ+ collection began in the 1970s with the work of bibliographer Anne E. Tracy. The collection currently holds material that ranges from popular literature, periodicals, ephemera, audio visual, and archival records.

Historic pamphlets, leaflets, manifestos contain topics such as the gay liberation movement, AIDS activism, same-sex domestic partnerships and marriage equality. Our archival collections include records of local and regional organizations, as well as personal papers of members of the Michigan LGBTQ+ community. Popular literature and community centered issues can be found in the form of fiction, graphic novels, zines, and graphic art. 

The collection continues to grow and evolve. Our aim is to collect individual voices of the LGBTQ+ community in order to capture the past and present of each of the individual communities within the larger umbrella of the LGBTQ+ community.

For more information, please contact Elisa Landaverde, LGBTQ+ Curator.


Resources

LGBTQ+ Resources in Special Collections

Transgender Voices

Collection Development Policy

Literature

Special Collections holds a wide variety of first and early editions of important works, as well as archival literary collections, all spanning the past five centuries.

Highlights include:

For more information, please contact Lydia Tang.

 

Resources

Michigan Writers Collection

 

Provenance Project

The Provenance Project at Special Collections, MSU Libraries is an effort to document marks of ownership and marks of use in the libraries' rare books.  We record and study copy-specific information about books in our collection – that is, features that make one particular copy of a work distinct from all other printed copies of that work.  These features can take many forms: bookplates, owner signatures, bookseller’s notes and prices, library marks, unique bindings, handwritten annotations, and more.  By systematically cataloging all of these pieces of evidence, we hope to build a robust online database that can be consulted by students and scholars the world over.

By studying these copy-specific features, we hope to learn more about the “life stories” of our books: where they have been, who owned them, and when.  Documenting a volume’s provenance can also often tell us a great deal about the work’s production, distribution, and the ways in which it was read and used.  A detailed provenance record can shed light on historical periods and figures, giving us crucial insight into the habits of readers, the popularity of particular works and genres, as well as the history of the book and the book trade.  Provenance evidence can also help us determine a rare book’s authenticity, and often adds to the scholarly and monetary value of a book.

For more information, please contact Andrew LundeenSpecial Collections Digital Projects Librarian.
 

Resources

Twitter

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Radicalism

The beginnings of the Radicalism Collection dates to the early 1960s, when the MSU Libraries acquired a large collection of books, pamphlets, flyers, and serials related to the Communist Party of the United States of America. Soon after this acquisition it was determined to build a Radicalism Collection that emphasized the materials of all groups, organizations, movements, and/or individuals who reflect an extreme viewpoint on political, social, economic, environmental, gender, race and sexual issues.  Today the Radicalism Collection holds over 50,000 items, including books, posters, flyers, pamphlets, ephemera, serials, and realia.

Initially, the collection’s greatest strength was in the publications of the American Left in the twentieth-century, especially American Communism, American labor history, and the student anti-war movement of the 1960s. Important archival collections here are The Communist Party of the USAEdith and Arthur Fox CollectionAmerican Radicalism Vertical Files,East Lansing Peace Education Center Papers,and the Radicalism Posters Collection. Recently, however, thanks to the acquisition of The Arsenal Collection a stronger effort has been made to collect right wing material. This growing collection will eventually number over 20,000 items issued for the most part by extremist or right wing organizations and agitators from the late nineteenth to the twenty first century representing such topics as Christian Identity, the New World Order as a globalist conspiracy, white supremacist and segregationist writings, and Holocaust denial.

Many of the acquisitions in the Radicalism Collection have been made possible thanks to the Radicalism Collection Endowment Fund in Memory of Beth Shapiro.

For more information, please contact Leslie McRoberts.
 

Resources

Radicalism Collection Overview

Artifacts from the Radicalism Collection

Collection Development Policy

SIRO (Studies in American Radicalism)

 

Russel B. Nye Popular Culture

With over 400,000 items, the Nye Collection is a major scholarly resource for the study of popular culture from the Nineteenth Century to the present. 

It is organized into categories of Comic Art, Science Fiction, Girls' and Boys' Series Books, Mysteries, Popular Information, Romances, Textbooks, Westerns, Sunday School books and Performing Arts. While the emphasis for years was American popular culture, materials from other countries are now being collected as well. A large clipping file of articles from the popular press supports and complements the collection. 

The Nye Popular Culture Collection has a large and rich collection of confession, teen, tabloid, men's, crime, entertainment, music, and scandal magazines covering a period primarily between 1930-1990.

For more information, please contact Randall Scott.
 

Resources

Nye Popular Culture Collection Files in the catalog
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Shaping the Values of Youth: Sunday School Books in 19th Century America

Science

As the library for the first institution of higher learning in the United States to teach scientific agriculture, Special Collections holds important early agricultural printed works, as well as strong collections in gardening, forestry, landscape architecture, and agricultural equipment catalogs.

The Veterinary Medicine Historical Collection at MSU is one of the largest and finest collections of its kind in the nation and possibly the world. The collection features some 1,400 manuscripts and books covering the arts and practices of the veterinary profession from as early as the fifteenth century, and continues to grow in size and prestige.

As the library for the first institution of higher learning in the United States to teach scientific agriculture, Special Collections holds important early agricultural printed works, as well as strong collections in gardening, forestry, landscape architecture, and agricultural equipment catalogs.

There is a wide selection of fine and rare natural history books with European and American books predominating. Areas of notable strength include ornithology, horticulture, botany, pomology, and entomology. A few of the important titles are the octavo edition of Audubon's Birds of America, a 1536 Hortus SanitatisThe Natural History of the Rarer Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia (London, 1797), and A.J. Downing's The Fruits and Fruit Trees of America (New York, 1845).

The Paul Barrett Darwinian Collection includes first editions of almost all of Charles Darwin's most important works. The Marilee and Robert Thomas Science Collection is made up of numerous seminal works in the history of chemistry, biology, engineering, and other areas.

For more information, please contact Tad Boehmer, Rare Books Curator.
 

Resources

Catalogue of Rare Veterinary Books and Allied Subjects in Animal Husbandry

Catalog of Early Works in the Ray Stannard Baker Bee Collection

Agricultural Equipment Catalogs in the Libraries of Michigan State University

Women and Botany in 18th and Early 19th-Century England

Zines

MSU Libraries’ Zine Collection brings together a diverse range of sub- and counter-cultural self-publications in printed form. Zines are usually produced on a photocopier or printer, are usually disseminated in short circulation and are often created by marginalized or underground groups or individuals. MSUL has acquired zines alongside material in the Comic Art Collection, the Russel B. Nye Popular Culture Collection and the Radicalism Collection for decades. Zines became an intentional collecting area in 2008.

The collection is strong in early British punk, with fanzines from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. Many of these titles are not available in libraries anywhere else in the Midwest; others are not held anywhere else in the country. The collection is also strong in English-language punk, hardcore and other alternative music fanzines generally, with American titles up to the present day.

Beyond music zines, the collection covers a wide swath of underground and alternative culture from the 1980s to the present, from diary-like personal zines (perzines) to anarchist political zines and a wealth of unique, under-represented perspectives in gender and sexuality. Shared emphases and complementary collections include the alternative comics, mini-comix and new wave comics of the Comic Art Collection as well as significant archival-arranged collections of science fiction fanzines from Star Trek universe and other universes.

Ongoing collection efforts seek to sustain existing collection strengths and to build strength in zines by people of color, zines by people identifying as queer and trans* and zines in languages other than English.

For more information, please contact Joshua Barton, Zines Curator.
 

Resources

Browse our catalog