Special Collections houses and maintains over 800 manuscript collections of primary research material. A manuscript collection contains a variety of materials and may include letters, journals, publications, writings, or business papers. Collections may be centered around an individual, an organization, or a specialized topic. While the term “manuscript” technically refers to handwritten material, a collection may contain a variety of different formats including handwritten letters, typed articles or manuscripts, photographs, film reels, audio cassettes, reel-to-reel recordings, VHS cassettes or DVDs, floppy disks, and other material. Collection strengths include Southern history and culture, the Fugitive and Agrarian literary groups, journalism, performing arts, fine arts, and Latin America.
Since many of these collections are quite substantial, access is provided through indexes called finding aids which provide both an overview of the collection, as well as a box-by-box listing of what the collection contains. These guides can be invaluable in helping researchers narrow the focus of their research for large collections which may consist of several hundred boxes of material. Finding aids for some of the collections can be found in the library catalog. Complete lists of all our manuscript collections can be browsed by title or by subject: