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Special Collections houses a substantial collection of noncirculating printed works reflecting over 500 years of printing and print culture in the West. Our earliest printed volume is a 1498 Strassbourg-printed edition of the Roman poet Horace. The department also maintains a collection of leaves from incunabula, book printed in the fifteenth century. The collection is particularly strong in Americana from the 18th and 19th centuries and in 19th century British culture. Diverse examples of presses, locations, typography, and binding styles can generally be located in the collection.

Highlights from the collection include a 1561 edition of Chaucer, the 1651 first edition of Hobbes's Leviathan, a first edition of Thoreau's Walden, several works of Dickens in parts, a growing collection of British and American literary annuals, and periodical runs including Mathew Carey's American Museum, one of the first American magazines, and a complete 18th and 19th century run of the Gentleman's Magazine. Contemporary book arts are represented in a growing collection that includes the works of Julia Chen, Clarissa Sligh, Michael Kuch, and others. 

The collection is continually being developed to augment faculty teaching and classroom needs in addition to growing its depth of materials so the collection can serve as an excellent teaching collection in the history of the book. Our catalog records often contain considerable copy-specific information about volumes in the collection. Please search for information about holdings. All volumes can be viewed in the Simms Research Room whenever the department is open.