About our Collections
The Department’s holdings are wide-ranging. The earliest materials include twelfth century illuminated manuscripts and fifteenth century printed works. The manuscript collections are especially rich in material pertaining to nineteenth century Union College alumni, faculty, and administration. The rare book collection contains a rich subset of artists’ books, significant works of American and British literature, and important works on the history of science and early technology. The elephant folio edition of Audubon’s Birds of America is also available for viewing here by making special arrangements. Other areas of strength in the book collections include Schenectady history, the history of General Electric, and early American humor. Special Collections also houses the John Bigelow (Union Class of 1835) Collection which includes books, letters, and manuscripts. The Dudley Observatory collection of rare books is also on loan to Union and is housed here. This collection includes rare works on astronomy and astrophysics including works by Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler.
For more information please see our collection development policy.
Manuscripts & Archives
Rare Book Collections
Our book collections range from incunables through to 21st century artist books and beyond. Highlights include a particularly strong collection relating to the abolition movement in the United States, religious tracts and bibles, the first edition Webster Dictionary, and more. Our active collecting areas include the history of science and technology, Union College history, and some material relating to Schenectady.
Special Collections and Schaffer Library has been working to increase access to our collections through digital projects. We collect digital records that pertain to our department’s collection policy, and we will be making digitized content available as much as possible.