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UofL Libraries & Collections

For Love of Learning - Introduction


The University of Louisville Libraries & Archives offer a broad range of special collections and primary source materials. Most of the libraries within the system are located on the Belknap Campus, just south of downtown Louisville. Within Ekstrom Library, which is the principal library for undergraduate and graduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, the Granville A. Bunton African American Collection provides more than four thousand volumes of African American history and literature. Another distinctive collection, the Robert Worth Bingham Poetry Room, accommodates more than one thousand volumes of poetry in English and bilingual editions.

In addition to these circulating collections Ekstrom Library houses the Department of Special Collections where the internationally recognized Photographic Archives and the Rare Books collections share a reading room, exhibition galleries and staff. The Photographic Archives, with holdings now approaching 1.5 million images, began in 1962 as one of the first collections of documentary history photographs in the nation. In addition to significant collections of regional and historic images, the Photographic Archives holds the papers of Roy Emerson Stryker, and the landmark Standard Oil of New Jersey Photography Project. Accessible for research, the images are also available for publishers and collectors through the department's full service darkroom. Along with documentary collections, the Photographic Archives has developed a substantial museum collection of photographic fine prints for study and exhibition in its gallery.

The Rare Books collections emphasize literature, particularly of the Irish Literary Renaissance, the history of books and printing, and popular culture, with dime novels, pulp magazines, and the most extensive public collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan, in the world. In addition to in depth collections of authors and fine presses, the department's holdings include literary manuscripts, vintage world war posters, maps, literary broadsides, a range of materials documenting the cultural life of Louisville, and a significant collection of rare mathematics and astronomy texts. Adjacent to the rare books vault, the Richard Morgan Kain gallery provides exhibition space for rare books and the Mary Jo Fink-Gerhard Herz Room offers a comfortable office for visiting scholars.

The University Archives and Records Center, established in 1973, maintains offices and research space on the top floor of Ekstrom Library. Charged with preserving the legal and historical record of the institution, the University Archives provides compliance with state and federal open records laws, manages the retention and disposal of all university records, and serves as the memory of the institution with documents dating back to the 1798 charter of Jefferson Seminary, predecessor of the University of Louisville. In addition the University Archives collects records documenting regional history, particularly the history of businesses, including the historic Louisville and Nashville Railroad, ethnic communities, and social action groups. In collaboration with the City of Louisville, the University Archives preserves local political records and also has been chosen as the repository for the papers of a number of United States representatives and senators, as well as local elected officials. The University Archives also houses the Oral History Center with over a thousand interviews of university, local and regional leaders, and activists.

The Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library, established in 1957, holds a reputation as an important art research collection in the region. Named for its first librarian, the Margaret M. Bridwell Library now holds more than seventy thousand volumes and three hundred current journals, in fine arts, fiber and ceramic arts, architectural history, photography, printmaking, interior and graphic design, and art education. In addition to papers of regional artists and architects, the Bridwell Art Library also holds a significant collection of rare art books.

A second library devoted to the arts is the Dwight Anderson Music Library, founded in 1947, now with over sixty-six thousand volumes, subscriptions to 250 magazines and journals, and an extensive collection of sound recordings in various formats. Among several notable special collections the library boasts the archive of the world-renown Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition with scores, sound recordings, and promotional materials submitted by premier contemporary composers.

Belknap Campus is also the location of two significant professional school libraries. The Laura Kersey Library of Engineering, Physical Science and Technology bears the name of the first engineering librarian for the University of Louisville Speed Scientific School. In addition to substantial research holdings in engineering, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, the library holds a modest collection of rare engineering texts and materials documenting the history of Speed School. The library of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law serves as a regional resource for legal research and holds the extensive archives of United States Supreme Court justices Louis Dembitz Brandeis and John Marshall Harlan. The Law Library is also a depository for all records and briefs of the Supreme Court since 1924.

The Kornhauser Health Sciences Library within the University's Health Sciences complex sits at the center of Louisville's medical community. With over 207,000 volumes and 2,460 journal subscriptions, the library provides resources for the metropolitan area as well as the western half of Kentucky. A History Room, named for Joan Titley Adams, the library's director from 1961 to 1978, houses rare books along with major collections of papers and artifacts. They document the history of the practice of medicine and of the University of Louisville School of Medicine back to its founding in 1837. The library is named for professor of anatomy Sidney Isaac Kornhauser.

The following pages provide brief descriptions of only about three hundred of the thousands of special collections, archives, and rare materials held in the University of Louisville Libraries and Archives. Selected to give insight into the depth and range of the primary sources available, the entries are arranged alphabetically by collection name and include information on scope and format with a designation of the library, archive or department holding the resource. Researchers will find complete contact information printed on the final page of the guide. Although some collections require housing among several different locations to preserve multiple formats, researchers need contact only one of the repositories listed. The librarians and archivists are glad to coordinate access.

Subject and keyword access for these collections and thousands more is provided through a new searchable database for special collections and primary sources at the University of Louisville Libraries and Archives available through the Libraries' web page http://library.louisville.edu. Alternative access points available through that site include Minerva, the Libraries' online catalog, and the Kentucky Virtual Library Kentuckiana Digital Library.

All who work with special collections and archives delight in assisting and collaborating with researchers, helping teach future generations of scholars, discovering new resources, and gratefully accepting the generosity of donors. At the University of Louisville Libraries and Archives we hope this glimpse of our special collections and primary sources will inspire new ideas for research, and bring us new opportunities to share the privilege of touching history.

Delinda Stephens Buie
Curator, Rare Books
University of Louisville Libraries