About Special Collections

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Visit Special Collections

Special Collections is open to the public. Please see Visiting Special Collections for more information about our hours and policies.

Support Special Collections

If you would like to learn more about contributing to Special Collections, please visit our Support Special Collections page.


The mission of Special Collections is to preserve, safeguard, organize, and describe materials in our collecting areas, making them available for current and future generations. Special Collections supports the teaching and research activities of the University of Houston, and serves as a resource for the scholarly community and the general public. The services provided include reference, instruction, archival collections processing, book processing, digitization, collection development, exhibits, marketing, and outreach.

Institutional History

The University of Houston Libraries Special Collections was established in 1968. Its first curator, Mrs. Marian Orgain, worked diligently during the department’s first decade to develop its collections, particularly manuscript materials and book collections focused on Texana, English and American literature, and fine press printing.

Dr. David Farmer assumed the Department Head position in 1983, and he endeavored to continue to build a research-oriented, patron-responsive Special Collections.  In Fall 1984, Pat Bozeman joined the library as its first Special Collections Librarian.  Farmer and Bozeman established the Special Collections instruction program, an active exhibits program, and began to acquire materials designed to build on existing strengths; they also explored the possibilities of formally establishing the University Archives.

Bozeman was appointed as Department Head of Special Collections in 1986 and continued to establish forward-thinking management practices, such as computer-generated finding aids for collections, electronic information systems, including websites, digital imaging services, and increased outreach and instruction efforts. The department also continued to focus on acquisition in areas supporting academic departments, including Texas history, 20th century English and American literature, African-American and Hispanic authors, history of the book, history of paper, and fine press printing.

Today, Special Collections includes seven professional librarians and archivists who endeavor to describe, preserve, and promote rare and unique materials ranging from the University of Houston Archives to medieval manuscripts to born-digital electronic records. 

Collections Scope

The University of Houston Libraries Special Collections includes eleven collecting areas. For more information about these collecting areas, or to view materials within these areas, please select from the below list.


Collection Area Contact
Architecture & Planning Stephen James
Carey C. Shuart Women's Archive and Research Collection Vince Lee
Contemporary Literature Christian Kelleher
Hispanic Collections Lisa Cruces
Houston & Texas History Vince Lee
Houston Hip Hop Julie Grob
Houston History Archives Terry Tomkins-Walsh
Mehra Collection Mary Manning
Performing & Visual Arts Mary Manning
Rare Books Julie Grob
University Archives Mary Manning
USS Houston & Military History Christian Kelleher
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