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Special and Area Studies Collections - About Special Collections

Special Collections holds primary resource research collections of the University of Florida and includes the Rare Book Collection, the Manuscript Collection, the University of Florida Archives, the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History, the Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts, and the Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature. The holdings are significant in terms of quantity and quality. The collections support the University's academic programs and scholars worldwide.


Archives and Manuscripts

Archives and manuscripts comprise a significant number of the department's most heavily researched collections. These include the University of Florida Archives and manuscript collections supporting each subject specialty of the department, most notably Florida, the Caribbean and Latin America. Other major collecting areas include literary manuscripts, popular culture, architecture and design, social activism, human and natural science, and Africa. To facilitate access to these diverse collections the majority of our holdings are described in descriptive finding aids.


Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature

The Baldwin Library contains more than 93,000 volumes published in Great Britain and the United States from the early 1700s through the present. Its holdings of more than 800 early American imprints is the second largest such collection in the U.S. Begun by Ruth Baldwin, this assemblage of literature, printed primarily for children, offers many topics for research: education and upbringing, family and gender roles, civic values, racial, religious, and moral attitudes, literary style and format, and the arts of illustrations and book design. A great strength of the collection is the many English and American editions of the same work - for example, 300 editions of Robinson Crusoe.


P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History

The P.K. Yonge Library is the state's preeminent Floridiana collection and includes a diverse array of primary sources. It has collected the largest North American collection of Spanish colonial documents concerning the southeastern United States, particularly materials on Florida from early Spanish exploration through 1821. In addition, it is the single most comprehensive repository for early and current Florida newspapers. The P.K. Yonge Library has always had a close association with scholars working in prehistory, ethnohistory, and archaeology. The holdings of colonial materials contain many essential sources of information on indigenous life in Florida, and the Library has specialized for a number of years in collecting materials on the Seminoles and on the 19th Century Seminole Wars. The Library is the most important repository for political papers related to Florida outside of the State Archives. It is also a major repository for books, maps, reports, explorer's notes and other manuscript material on Florida's environment, the Everglades, the Cross-Florida Barge Canal, conservation efforts, geology, wildlife, fisheries, river surveys, and forestry.


Popular Culture Collections

The Popular Culture Collections consist of the Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts and the Suzy Covey Comic Book Collection. The Belknap Collection was donated in 1953 by Sara Yancey Belknap, a New York librarian and an avid patron of the arts. Since then the collection has grown by acquisition as well as through donations from artists, libraries, and interested individuals. Nearly 85% of the holdings are ephemera from 19th and 20th Century America and Europe. The archives include more than 60,000 playbills, programs, posters, photographs, costume and stage designs, clippings, newsletters, theatrical scrapbooks, sheet music, recordings, prints, scripts, and advertising circulars. The collection also contains reference works, rare and large pictorial volumes, and performing arts periodicals. The Suzy Covey Comic Book Collection directly supports the Comic Studies Program offered by the Department of English at the University of Florida, but its holdings are open to all having an interest in the field. The collection is still growing, and is useful for those interested in the history and development of sequential art formats, particularly in the United States and includes original and reprint comic books, strips, caricatures and related items. The collection holds items from every recognized "Age" of comics as well as every genre, including daily humor strips and political satire as well as superhero, funny animal, and underground comics. The Jim Liversidge Collection includes memorabilia and artifacts covering politics, television, theatre, film, music, sports and day-to-day current events of the past 50 years. The collection is comprised of almost seven thousand items, including scrapbooks, photos, programs, posters, campaign buttons, sheet music, news clippings, audiovisual recordings, artifacts and over 400 book titles.


Harold and Mary Jean Hanson Rare Book Collection

The Harold and Mary Jean Hanson Rare Book Collection is one of the finest in the nation. It is an invaluable resource for primary printed materials and is utilized by students, faculty, researchers at the University and other research centers throughout the country and abroad. The books range in date from the 15th Century through the contemporary era. Subject strengths include New England authors (Parkman Dexter Howe Collection of literature and related cultural/historical topics for the 17th-19th Centuries); classical literature in early printed editions; Restoration literature; 18th Century poetry, prose and drama; Irish literature of the 19th and 20th Centuries; and select 20th Century British and American poetry and fiction. Our history of science collection provides researchers with access to an important selection of works dealing with botany and agriculture from the 16th Century onward as well as the scientific revolution in 17th-Century Europe and biological studies from 19th-Century Germany. Book arts and the history of the book include special bindings, fine presses, book illustration, proofs and engraved wood blocks by Eric Gill and John Buckland Wright, and fore-edge paintings. Other subject areas materially represented in the collections include social and military history, theology, travel, and landscape architecture. In addition to traditional rare books, the department also is fortunate to hold several special print collections.


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