Skip to Main Content

About the Special Collections and University Archives

This guide is intended to acquaint you with the resources and services of the Special Collections and University Archives Section, located on the first floor. The term "Special Collections" is commonly used in libraries to denote materials which due to their value or unique nature have been separated from the main collection to allow careful preservation and controlled use. This definition is applicable to our collection which has a three-fold objective: to collect, preserve, and encourage the use of our special materials to meet the instructional and research needs of UNF faculty, students, staff and other adult researchers.


Our resources include Rare Materials, University Archives, and Special Collections, manuscripts, and primary source materials of prominent individuals and organizations. Each collection is a unique entity requiring varying methods of acquisition, organization, and handling, all of which are described below under Overview of the Collections.

Overview of the Collections

Rare Materials

The collection contains high cost items and older imprints, the most notable example being an incunabulum (a book printed before 1501) dated 1496. Rare books on special subjects include a translation of an essay on the medicinal nature of hemlock dated 1760 and a unique pictorial German family bible dated 1889. Limited editions include a special facsimile edition of Leonardo da Vinci's Codice Atlantico and his Madrid Codices. The majority of the limited/signed editions pertain to literature, notably poetry by American poets. There are also books by distinguished authors, autographed and dedicated to the UNF Library.


The Library is developing a local history collection relating to the Northeast Florida region. The collection contains varied and interesting materials: general histories of the region, early guide books to Florida and Jacksonville, souvenir albums, historical calendars, rare maps and pamphlets, Jacksonville Historical Society papers, books by an early local printer, H. & W. B. Drew Company, and postcards depicting historic buildings, facilities and scenes. A representative selection of our local materials have been digitized and are available online through the Florida Heritage Collection.


Rare materials are classified according to the Library of Congress system and are cataloged in the UNF Library Catalog. The catalog records note the rare qualities of the material, e.g., the number of the copy of a limited edition, etc.

University Archives

The Archives collection is the repository of significant university publications and records that document its history and activities. Materials relating to the history of the University from its beginnings in 1969-70 to the present are preserved and maintained. The collection includes catalogs, correspondence, digitized items, handbooks and manuals, memoranda, newspapers, papers and reports, photographs / negatives / slides, press and media materials, university memorabilia, video and sound recordings, and other materials pertaining to the operations and functions of the University or its faculty, staff, and students. Specific materials range from complete sets of university catalogs and newspapers to official gifts given to the University, photographs of university events, and initial campus planning documents. The Library will attempt to acquire two copies of all materials considered historically significant archival items.


Two distinct units included in Archives are:

  • Original copies of master's theses and doctoral dissertations written by UNF students in partial fulfillment of degree requirements (print copies required through Spring term, 2012).
  • Monographs written by UNF faculty and staff.


An automated index is available in Special Collections to identify and locate materials. Many of the archival items are also fully cataloged with searchable records in the UNF Library Catalog, the library's computer-based catalog, with a location notation for Special Collections.


Theses, dissertations and UNF faculty monographs are classified according to the Library of Congress system and fully cataloged on the UNF Library Catalog. Use the Basic search mode screen and select keyword, author's name, title or subject to search for any of these items. To search only for Special Collections items, use the Advanced search mode screen and click on location "Special Collections".


University Archives provides more detail on services and materials.

Special Collections

These collections include personal papers, manuscripts, and primary source materials of prominent individuals and organizations. Major holdings include the papers of: Eartha M. M. White; John E. Mathews, Jr.; George W. Simons, Jr.; and Arthur N. Sollee, Sr. Detailed descriptive records for each collection are searchable through the UNF Library Catalog.


Extensive finding aids, including container lists and indexes, are available for each collection at Special Collections.

Subject Guides to Local Materials

Policies and Procedures

Access to Materials

  • The unique nature of these non-circulating materials necessitate some restrictions in their use. Please call (904) 620-1533 or e-mail for information on the collections or to make an appointment to access materials.

Use of the Materials

  • We are grateful for the cooperation of all researchers in handling and using our rare materials. We request that all materials be handled carefully and kept in their original order.
  • Use of ink pens, ball point pens, or objects which may potentially or accidentally damage the rare material is not allowed.
  • A no smoking, eating, or drinking policy is strictly enforced within the section.
  • Materials in Special Collections are subject to contractual, copyright and other legal restrictions, and special conditions of use. Permission to use Special Collections does not include permission to copy or publish items. The researcher is responsible for conforming to copyright, literary property, right-to-privacy, libel and any other applicable laws.

Online Forms

Online users with research requests are expected to complete the following online forms:

  • ONLINE FORM: Application for Use of Special Collections Materials


  • ONLINE FORM : Request for Reproduction of Special Collections Materials


  • ONLINE FORM : Request for Reproduction of Special Collections Materials (pdf)

Gifts and Donations

This guide describes the types of materials that the UNF library is interested in adding to Special Collections. It is hoped that gifts of special materials within our collecting guidelines, a memorial endowment, or financial contributions to the Friends of the Library will reach the library through the generosity of alumni and other interested parties. Offers of such gifts will be carefully reviewed and accepted in accordance with the library's gift policy. For more information on gifts and donations, please call the section at (904) 620-1533, or e-mail