What we collect

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About our collections

Established in 1958, Special Collections collects rare and unique photos, documents, books, film, video and audio recordings, and other primary source materials. These items are held in Special Collections because of their rarity, uniqueness, or fragility, and because they fall within our collection areas or other areas of interest.

Special Collections is a repository and cultural heritage institution that is part of Arizona’s land-grant university. We keep materials to mirror who is here, amplify voices, expand our historical record, and create opportunities for new research.

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Collection areas

We collect materials in the following areas: 

Arizona and the Southwest
Regional and local history documented in printed text, manuscripts, photographs, and more.

Arizona Queer Archives
The Arizona Queer Archives centers community participation in the building and collecting of LGBTQI histories throughout the state of Arizona and the US-Mexico borderlands. It collects manuscripts and organizational records, ephemera, oral histories and other records that tell the stories of what it means to be LGBTQI in the region.

Archival materials and printed texts on the Borderlands of the Southwest and Northwest of Mexico, from Baja California to Tamaulipas, Mexico.

History of Science
Dynamic selection of titles documenting advances in many branches of science starting with the 16th century.

First editions of British and American literary works, poetry and fine press editions, and handwritten manuscripts from the birth of printing in the 15th century forward.

Performing Arts
Play scripts, sound recordings, programs, and photographs.

Political Affairs
Major congressional and political affairs collections of regional and national significance.

University of Arizona
University archives, faculty papers, and photographs of university history.

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Additional collections and materials

We also have additional large collections and historical materials:

Book collections

Some of the genres, formats, and areas of focus of our book collections include: 

  • Women Mystery Writers
  • Science fiction and fantasy literature
  • Artists’ books and arts and literary journals
  • First editions and early printed works
  • British and American literature
  • Pulp novels, comic books, fanzines and other unconventional forms of publishing

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Collection development policy

Find more detailed information about what we collect in our collection development policy.

Harmful language statement

Our collections may contain language and content that is harmful or offensive, reflecting the society in which they were created. We strive to prevent harm through our descriptive practices while preserving the original content and context of materials.

We are dedicated to revising and updating descriptive language in our collection guides, or finding aids, and digital collections and acknowledge that this work is ongoing.