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History 1200: Assignment in Special Collections: Home

Resources for students in Amanda Kenney's History 1200 class sections.

What is Special Collections?

Special Collections and Rare Books houses rare and unique materials that span over four thousand years.  The collections include books, maps, posters, pamphlets, comics, artwork, artifacts, personal papers, and over 8 million titles on microform. Many of these materials are valuable primary sources. 

The materials in Special Collections are here because they are fragile, one-of-a-kind, and they have lasting value for research.  Because of this, the procedures for using books and other materials are a little different from what you may be used to in libraries.  This guide will walk you through the process of finding and requesting materials in Special Collections.


Work Sessions

These work sessions are designed to allow you time and space to work on the materials for this assignment. You are not required to stay for the entire session.  If you're not able to register for any of the sessions below, please email to arrange for a separate appointment.

You do not have to stay for the entire two-hour session.  You can also drop in at any time during the two hours (provided you allow yourself enough time to work before it ends). Worksheets and materials will be available for the entire two hours so you can get the information you need to write your paper.  

Choose a session to register

10:00am - 12:00pm, Tuesday, October 25, 2016
2:00pm - 4:00pm, Wednesday, October 26, 2016
12:00pm - 2:00pm, Thursday, October 27, 2016
1:00pm - 3:00pm, Friday, October 28, 2016
1:00pm - 3:00pm, Monday, October 31, 2016
10:00am - 12:00pm, Tuesday, November 1, 2016
12:00pm - 2:00pm, Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Rules and Guidelines

Reading Room Rules

All users of the collections must maintain an updated Patron Registration Form at the main Special Collections reference desk.

 The collections are open to all users during regular hours of service. All readers must register and provide contact information, photo ID, and name. Positive photo identification is required.

Rare books, manuscripts, and other materials from the division’s book collections must not be removed from the reading room (room 401). Most materials do not circulate. Some books from the Closed and Comic Art Collections may be checked out subject to condition and the discretion of Special Collections staff.

No food or beverages are allowed in the reading room, including water bottles.

The use of ink pens is not permitted in the reading room. Paper and pencils are available upon request.

Loose-leaf paper, pencils, laptop computers, and mobile devices in silent mode are allowed at the study tables.  Readers must silence cell phones and leave the reading room to place or receive calls.

Personal items are not allowed at the reading tables.  Readers must store all personal belongings except those noted above in the shelving or lockers provided.

Readers must return materials to the desk before exiting the reading room for any reason.

Care in Handling

All materials in the department must be handled with great care.

  • No marks may be added or erased.
  • No tracings or rubbings may be made without specific permission from Special Collections staff.
  • Materials should remain on the table while being consulted.
  • Book cradles, pillows, and weighted snakes should be employed to aid use of fragile materials.
  • No books, papers, or objects may be laid on top of the materials, nor should the reader lean on them.
  • Special Collections staff may request readers to wear gloves, but in most cases, gloves are not required.
  • Non-flash photography is allowed, but must be approved and supervised by staff.


Know Before You Go

If at all possible, please register as a Special Collections user in advance.  Online registration form

Bring a photo ID!  Your MU student ID or a driver's license will be fine.

Most materials can't be checked out, but you can put them on hold in the reading room.

Allowed at the reading tables: pencils, paper, laptop computers, mobile devices (silenced), and cameras.  You'll be asked to store your backpack, coat, and other personal belongings elsewhere.

You can take pictures with your phone or a camera.  But remember - no flash!  Special Collections staff can make photos or scans for you for a fee.

More information on using Special Collections