Skip to main content

Special Collections

Asia Collections

Echols Collection on Southeast Asia

The Echols Collection is the foremost library resource on Southeast Asia in the United States. Annually it adds more than 8,000 titles to its collection. It is the most comprehensive body of material on a global region in the Cornell University Library system and the largest collection on Southeast Asia in the United States.

Wason Collection on East-Asia

The Charles W Wason Collection on East Asia is the premiere collection of East Asian manuscripts and artwork in the United States.

South Asia Collection

With material from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, the South Asia Collection is the fourth largest in the United States and the largest intershelved collection combining both Indic and Western languages. Collections in rural sociology, anthropology, communications, education, regional planning and art history are also noteworthy among the South Asia Collection. The holdings also include the Gandhi Memorial Library, which Cornell received as a gift in 1949.

Mann Library Collections

Language of Flowers Collection

The remarkable Language of Flowers Collection was donated to the library by award-winning garden writer Isabel Zucker '26. The 147 volumes in this collection include many early 19th-century texts on the art of expressing emotions, sentiments, and moral lessons through floral arrangements. They are a valuable resource for researchers in Victorian culture, horticulture as art, and women's lifestyles.


Phillips Beekeeping Collection

An endowment named in honor of apiculturist and Cornell professor Dr. Everett Franklin Phillips (1878-1951) supports the world's largest and most valuable cllection of books and manuscripts on bees and beekeeping. The Phillips Beekeeping Collection endowment, established in the mid-1920s, is Mann Library's oldest endowment, originally funded by New York State beekeepers and royalties received from the Dyce Honey Patent


Rice Poultry Collection

The Rice Poultry Collection, named after Cornell professor James E. Rice, America's first professor of poultry husbandry, is a major repository of information on poultry science. Over 800 pre-1900 volumes, the earliest works in the poultry collection, are housed in Special Collections.


Rare and Manuscript Collections

Fiske Icelandic Collection

The Fiske Icelandic Collection, located in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, is the largest repository of works on Iceland and on Nordic medieval studies in North America. The collection, which Cornell University Library received in 1905, contains over 32,000 titles in a variety of European languages and in diverse media.

Human Sexuality Collection

The Human Sexuality Collection seeks to preserve and make accessible primary sources that document historical shifts in the social construction of sexuality, with a focus on U.S. lesbian and gay history and the politics of pornography. Lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgendered politics on the national level is a major strength of the Collection.

History of Science Collection

The library's History of Science Collections house one of the world's finest selections of rare scientific books. More than 35,000 volumes document the historical development of the physical and biological sciences, technology, and nonclinical medicine from the Renaissance through the nineteenth century, focussing mainly on developments in Europe and America.

Witchcraft Collection

Cornell's Witchcraft Collection contains over 3,000 titles documenting the history of the Inquisition and the persecution of witchcraft. Highlights from the Witchcraft Collection include many early texts from the period when the theory of the heresy of witchcraft was being formulated, including fourteen Latin editions of one of the more sinister works on demonology, the Malleus maleficarum, which codified church dogma on heresy.


The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections holds over forty manuscript collections concerning all aspects of ornithology, and over 300 rare books which richly chronicle the history of both the science of ornithology and the art of bird illustration from the 16th-19th centuries. Centered around a remarkable group of rare bird books given to Cornell by Kenneth E. and Dorothy V. Hill, the Hill Ornithology Collection (see online exhibition) focuses mainly on North American ornithology and on works published before 1900, but its scope is wide.

E. B. White

E. B. White (1899-1985), Cornell class of 1921, began building his collection at Cornell in 1961. He continued to add to the collection up until the time of his death. The E.B. White Collection consists of approximately 36,000 items, including 2,350 books and other printed items, more than 28,000 letters, and 5,500 related items such as manuscripts, documents, clippings, photographs, films, notecards, cassette tapes, bound photocopies, medals and awards by, to, or about E.B. White, spanning the entire range of his activities throughout his life. Letters consist of ca. 3,000 letters by White and 25, 000 letters to him from others.

George Bernard Shaw

The Bernard F. Burgunder Collection is one of the largest collections of Shaw manuscripts and books in the world. It contains approximately 3000 books and several thousand manuscripts and letters, by or about Shaw. The Burgunder Collection covers all aspects of Shaw's life and work with particular strength in the area of theatre

James Joyce

The Joyce Collection is one of the richest in the world dealing with Joyce's early writing career and life before 1920. It includes letters by Joyce, letters to or relating to Joyce by his family and friends, many of his early manuscripts, and other documents.

Cornell University Archives

The Archives collects and preserves records of historical, legal, fiscal, and/or administrative value to Cornell University. Holdings include official records and reports of the university, its officers, and component parts; private papers of faculty, students, staff, and alumni; official and student publications; maps and architectural records; audiovisual materials including still photographs and negatives, motion picture film, oral history interviews, and audio and video tapes; and artifacts and ephemera documenting Cornell's history.

Andrew Dickson White Architectural Photographs

The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library, is home to the Andrew Dickson White Architectural Photographs Collection, comprised of approximately 13,000 nineteenth- and early twentieth-century photographs of architecture, decorative arts and sculpture. White (1832-1918), the first president of Cornell University, established the collection by donating several thousand images from his personal architectural library.

Cornell University Collection of Political Americana

The collection consists of published material, ephemera, and artifacts dating to between 1800 and 1976, including ballots and slates of candidates; promotional broadsides, handbills, and posters; political cartoons lithographs and prints, pamphlets, leaflets, and brochures; songbooks and sheet music; badges, pins, ferrotypes and celluloid buttons; campaign ribbons, souvenirs and more.

Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Collection

The Cornell University Library owns one of the richest collections of anti-slavery and Civil War materials in the world. Andrew Dixon White was instrumental in bringing an extensive collection of slavery and abolitionist materials gathered by his close friend, Reverend Samuel Joseph May, to the Cornell Library. Numbering over 10,000 titles, May's pamphlets and leaflets document the anti-slavery struggle at the local, regional, and national levels.

French Revolution

These collections offer an unparalleled opportunity for the intensive study of 18th and early 19th-century France and present extraordinary strengths for research on the Ancien RĂ©gime, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic period, and the Restoration. The collection is strongest in the areas of economy and finance, the Revolutionary government, and Revolutionary culture, with unusual strength in popular culture.

For more Rare and Manuscript Collections see:

Olin Library Collections

Map Collection

The Map & Geospatial Information Collection on the Lower Level of Olin Library houses a geographically comprehensive collection of over 237,000 maps, 3,000 books and atlases, 400 compact disks, and many other related research materials. The Collection is a full depository library for federal government maps and digital spatial data.

Electronic Text Center

The Electronic Text Center features more than 100 full-text scholarly sources on CD-ROM, some of which are networked and available through the Library Gateway. The center behind the reference desk in Olin Library.