About Our Physical Collections

University Archives

The W&L Special Collections and Archives Department houses the records of the institution, including university publications, Board of Trustees’ records, and student honors theses.  These records are organized into Record Groups.

Manuscript Collections

The department houses over 1000 unique manuscripts collections including those of the Rockbridge Historical Society, The American Shakespeare Center, and the Mountain Valley Preservation Association. These collections vary greatly in size, format, and scope.  Subjects covered within the collections are diverse and include concentrations in American and Virginia history, regional genealogy, history of propaganda, Southern literature, and theater.

Photograph and Print Collections

It also houses over 10,000 photographs and prints. Beyond our photograph and print collections, which include scrapbooks, images can also be found within the manuscript collections and University Archives described above. Our photographic holdings vary greatly in size and include numerous formats representative of the evolution of the photographic process. Strengths are local and regional portraiture, landscapes and architecture, W&L University history, including athletics, and late 19th century travel.

Rare Books and Newspapers

As with the manuscript collections, the approximately 60,000 rare books vary greatly in age, size, format, and scope ranging from incunables to modern book arts pieces and folios to miniatures.  We also house the surviving volumes from the library of our predecessor institution Liberty Hall Academy, the nineteenth century Franklin Society Library of Lexington, Virginia, the Roger Mudd collection of Southern fiction first editions, and the libraries of author James Dickey and editor Thomas Henry Carter.  Our rare newspapers include the Fred Farrar Collection of Historic Newspapers and early original bound runs of local and regional newspapers.

University Collections of Art and History

While W&L’s Special Collections and Archives Department does house some works of art and 3D objects generally relating to the history of the university or our manuscript collections, the majority of such material is stored and curated by University Collections of Art and History (UCAH) located in the Reeves Center.  For more information regarding the university’s fine art and museum collections contact Museums at W&L.

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Seth Goodhart