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Department of Special Collections and University Archives

Special Collections

Map of the West

The University of Tulsa’s McFarlin Library Department of Special Collections and University Archives collects and preserves a rich array of over 950 collections, comprised of over 12 million archival objects (papers, photographs, artifacts, diaries, letters, maps, etc.) of unique primary-source research material on a broad range of topics. There are also over 160,000 volumes of rare books.  These collections are available to any person for research during regular business hours.

Special Collections is best known for its literary collections, though they only comprise about 14% of the overall collections.  These collections, primarily spanning the 15th through 20th centuries, are comprised of rare books, manuscripts, archival collections, periodical collections, and visual and artistic collections, including one of the five largest collections in the world on the celebrated Irish writer James Joyce and the life archive of Nobel Laureate Sir V.S. Naipaul. Other significant collections include a wide variety of British, Irish, and American literature, of the 19th through 21st centuries, and range from the areas of science fiction and mystery to less genre-defined literature, such as Modernism.  Notable author examples include Jean Rhys, Rebecca West, Edith Nesbit, Lynn Riggs.

Most of the collections in the department are in the areas of US history, western American history, Oklahoma history, petroleum industry history, Native American history, and military history, in particular Word War I, but including other conflicts as well. Other collection areas include Native American culture, theater and performing arts, popular culture, and cookery and household manuals.

University Archives

Document BoxesThe University Archives was formally established in the middle 1970s as the official repository for non-current University records having historical, legal, fiscal, or administrative value. The primary mission of the Archives is to identify, collect, preserve, arrange, and describe records documenting the history of administrative and academic units and the activities of The University of Tulsa faculty, staff, and students. Sadly many of the moribund collections have lain in obscurity for some time.  Many of these collections are under restrictions from their originating offices.

University Relations materials, old University Presidential papers, committee records, the history of McFarlin Library, theses and dissertations, and some personal papers of faculty, students and staff are all parts of University Archives.

These materials include student and University publications, photographs, audio and video recordings, posters, maps, architectural plans, and memorabilia.

Access to the Collections

Jack and Tybie Satin Reading RoomOur policies and regulations regarding the use of our collections work to balance preserving the Library’s unique resources while providing an inviting research and study environment for library users. All materials must be used in the Special Collections Jack H. and Tybie Davis Satin Reading Room. Users are required to complete and submit a Reader’s Registration Form, preferably at least three working days in advance. (Do you want to say anything here about copying/photocopying and use in publications?)

While the Department of Special Collections and University Archives makes every effort to make materials available to researchers, it should be noted that many records and collections are closed to users due to agreements with the donor or the originating office.   We try to make these restrictions as minimal as possible.

About the Catalog

Most of The University of Tulsa’s McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections and University Archives books, theses, dissertations, other published materials, and some other materials can be found by searching the McFarlin Library catalog.

The Archival catalog contains detailed information about manuscripts (including but not limited to letters, diaries, and other personal papers),   photograph albums, historical institutional records, and other primary source research collections. Links to online digital access are include when available.

For specific questions about our holdings, please contact us.

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives


The Department of Special Collections and University Archives of the McFarlin Library at The University of Tulsa is an important resource for the University community, the local region, and research across the globe.  It is our mission to be the most effective and efficient research tool we can be for our users which include students, faculty, the local community, and scholars from around the world.

The Department is located on the 5th floor of the McFarlin Library and currently the houses more than 140,000 rare books and over 9,000 linear feet of literary and historical manuscripts, photographic collections, artwork, and artifacts.

Most of the collections are literary and historical in nature, with special emphasis on English Modernist authors and the history of the American West.  One of the most notable areas of collecting is in twentieth-century British, Irish, and American literature, which includes an extensive array of materials by and about James Joyce and the papers of Nobel Prize winner V.S. Naipaul.  The department also houses a broad selection of materials relating to Native American history, law, languages and art; wars and conflicts, with emphasis on especially World War I and the Vietnam Conflict; women authors; popular culture; and the history of Oklahoma and the Tulsa region.

The department supports teaching and research across many academic departments and is routinely used in undergraduate instruction and graduate research.

While Special Collections materials must be used in department reading rooms, these rich resources are available to all students and staff of the University as well as, without charge, to members of the public who would like to consult them.