About Special Collections

b88_f4_image60Mission Statement

Special Collections acquires, arranges, preserves, and promotes the use of rare and unique materials that support the information, instruction, and research needs of the University of Tennessee community.  Special Collections seeks to create and provide broad access to local collections for scholars in regional, national and international communities, as well as the general public.  Materials are acquired in all formats, although priority is placed on books and manuscripts, and include both primary and secondary sources. Priority is placed on materials with a strong state and regional focus.

Rare Books

The rare book collection contains approximately 60,000 titles, including many titles published before 1700 and several thousand published during the 18th century.  The vast majority of the titles have publication dates from 1800 to the present.

The primary focus of the collection is Tennesseanna, and it is the largest collection of Tennesseanna in the world, providing colorful and vivid accounts of the developing nation from the perspective of the region.  Among the most notable items are Davy Crockett’s Almanacs and the first set of the Acts and Journals of the Tennessee Legislature.


The manuscript collection contains approximately 7,000 linear feet of private papers, literary manuscripts, business records, political files, broadsides, and historical records primarily relating to Tennessee and the Southeast. Notable collections include the writings of James Agee and Alex Haley as well as film director Clarence Brown.


The University Archives maintains the institutional legacy of the University and serves as the official repository for the University of Tennessee, with materials deposited on a voluntary basis.  The collection consists of approximately 4,000 linear feet of records and small collections of prints, photographs, ephemera, and electronic records.

Included in the collection are the official unpublished records of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville such as  the papers of UT Presidents, minutes of the Boards of Trustees, records of student organizations, and files from most of the University’s academic departments and administrative offices.  Archives is also dedicated to collecting the published works of the University of Tennessee, including books detailing the history of the university, student newspapers, UT Press publications, and yearbooks.  The University Archives also retains copies of all official University Theses and Dissertations dating from the early 1900s to 2004.

Read more about our collection policies here.

View the department staff list here.