In brief

Special Collections brings together the University of Washington Libraries' most rare and unique resources. From papyrus to born-digital, our holdings span history and the globe, and offer boundless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Students, faculty, and visitors are invited to examine manuscripts, printed works, artists' books, photographs, maps, and other materials in the protected environment of the Special Collections reading room.  Our digital collections are available on the web.

We believe that the histories of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are essential. We acknowledge that University of Washington Special Collections contributes to an institutional legacy of collecting bias, acquiring harmful collections, and using offensive language to describe our resources. We also acknowledge structural issues with public services and personnel that perpetuate systemic discrimination and cultural bias. We are actively working to address this legacy.

We are committed to combating institutionalized racism by supporting the preservation of the histories of underrepresented communities at UW and in the Pacific Northwest. We commit to examine our own practices continually and share our progress on this work. We endeavor to ensure that these histories are appropriately represented and cared for in Special Collections. (Statement updated: 20 July 2021)


Special Collections' Statement on Potentially Harmful Content

University of Washington Libraries Special Collections collects, preserves, and makes accessible archival and library materials. These materials may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views, events, practices, and opinions. Though we do not endorse these viewpoints, we retain these materials unaltered in our collections to document their historical relevance and to fully represent materials in context, preserving our history.

Harmful language in catalog records, archival finding aids, and digital collections

If you encounter language that you find offensive or harmful, we welcome your feedback. We are committed to working with staff, communities, and peer institutions to assess and update descriptions that are harmful and to establish standards and policies to prevent future harmful language in staff-generated descriptions in catalog records, archival finding aids, and digital collections as appropriate and feasible.

To learn more about Special Collections' Anti-Racism work, see the Special Collections Anti-Racism Initiatives Library Guide.

Reviewed: February 2023


We welcome volunteers and interns to assist us in our work. If you are interested in learning more about opportunities available in Special Collections please contact us!


Annual Report


Current Exhibit| Magick and Mystery: Exploring the Supernatural in Special Collections

Explore the supernatural in this exhibit featuring all manner of magic and mischief. Opening in Fall 2023 and running until the end of Winter Quarter 2024, Magick and Mystery will feature items from Special Collections, in the UW Libraries, on topics ranging from local folklore and mysteries to 19th-century spiritualism, and even TikTok tarot trends.


Magick and Mystery FINAL