Collections of unusual or scarce materials such as rare books, manuscripts, historical maps, drawings, paintings, photographs, etc., as well as the institution's own archives (alumni papers, professors' papers, university records) housed in a climate controlled secured area.
Special Collections owns approximately 700 manuscript collections on a variety of topics including civil rights, performing arts, astronomy and physics, and others. The collections listed here are a select list of manuscript collections held by Vanderbilt Libraries.
Special Collections Finding Aids.
For a list of all special collections by subject, please see the collections Subject List.
For a list of all the special collections by title, please see the collections Alphabetical List.
Please note that for the alphabetical and subject lists, a handful of items are owned by other libraries in the system even though most items belong to Special Collections. If you are uncertain which library owns an item on the list contact Special Collections.
If the phrase "off-site" appears next to a collection title, then the collection is stored at our off-site facility. Individual boxes will need to be requested for use in class and in the Special Collections Reading Room. Due to limited storage on our hold shelf, only two boxes per person may be requested at a time from off-site storage.
If the phrase "inventory available" appears next to a collection title, then a paper-based inventory is available for the collection. To request a PDF of the inventory, please contact Special Collections for assistance.
If the phrase "small collection" appears next to a collection title, it contains less than one full box of material. All other collections contain at least one full box of papers.
Thanks to Teresa Gray, Public Services Librarian, Special Collections, for compling this manuscripts page.
From the birth of the United States to modern times, many living on American soil migrated across the country either by force or seeking better opportunities. Tracing the Movement of Populations: American Legacies of Expansion and Removal uses materials from Vanderbilt’s Special Collections to explore these narratives. They include the long removal of Native Americans from ancestral lands, Tennesseans migrating to Texas, and Japanese Americans facing internment in Utah during World War II. Competing legacies of freedom, equality, and opportunity run throughout the exhibit.
Native Americans living in the Southeast were forced from their homelands during the early years of the United States. Andrew Jackson and other officials were crucial in implementing removal. Throughout this period Native Americans asserted their sovereign in correspondence with U.S. officials. Tennesseans of European descent, notably Sam Houston and David Crockett, felt a better economic, social, and political destiny awaited them in Texas after 1830. Abundant lands expanded the cotton trade using the forced migrant slave labor of African Americans. In Topaz, Utah, the Nisei documented their lives and aspirations, under internment, through artwork and magazines. They also performed American citizenship as soldiers and nurses for the war effort. These three components explore the perspectives of those who crossed the internal borders of our country, and in doing so left their footprint on its history.