Local History Collections
The local history collecting area focuses on the history of St. Louis and the surrounding region. While a few documents from the city’s colonial-era are found within the rare books and manuscript collections, most of the archival collections focus on life in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Collections documenting urban development and city life are a particular strength. Contemporary (21st century) St. Louis historic events are also preserved, as with the Regional Ferguson Collecting Initiative and Documenting Ferguson.
These collections are also in some way connected to the University — often created, saved, or produced by faculty, staff, student, or alumnus. This differs from University Archives’ collections which focus on the history of the University itself, although there is significant overlap in some collections. For more information, contact the Curator of Local History Miranda Rectenwald.
Detailed original drawings for notable local structures along with documents from architectural firms.View Collection about Architecture Collections
The City of St. Louis Mayor's administrations and board of aldermen files offer a detailed look at choices made in...View Collection about St. Louis History
St. Louis-based company archives. Primarily added in the 1980s, business history is no longer a subject actively collected by the...View Collection about Business History
Washington University Libraries is part of the St. Louis LGBT History Project's Collecting Initiative and works to actively ensure this...View Collection about LGBTQ+ History
19th-century St. Louis fire insurance maps produced by Alphonso Whipple.View Collection about Unreal City
Researchers interested in the history of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition will find a variety of materials in several collections.View Collection about 1904 World’s Fair
D.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library
The D.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library at Washington University is comprised of original art and printed material from many fields of popular American pictorial graphic culture.
Digital Projects & Collections
Digital Projects & Collections highlight those portions of the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections that have been made or born digital.
East Asian Library Special Collections
The East Asian Library houses about 800 volumes of rare and special books, manuscripts, and other types of materials in its special collection.
Film & Media Archive
The Archive is committed to the preservation of documentary film and other media which chronicles America's great political and social movements with a particular emphasis on the African-American experience.
The local history collecting area focuses on the history of St. Louis and the surrounding region.
Washington University Libraries' Julian Edison Department of Special Collections Manuscript collections contain a broad range of materials dating from the 2nd century BC through the present.
Modern Literature Collection
The Modern Literature Collection includes more than 175 authors, presses, and journals, with more than 125 of these represented by manuscript materials.
Music Special Collections
Special Collections at the Gaylord Music Library include sheet music, manuscripts, rare books, and digital materials.
Rare Book Collections
The Rare Book Collections include books from all Special Collection areas. The collections’ primary strengths are in the areas of literature; the material culture of the book, including the history of printing, graphic design, and the book arts; and aspects of American and world history.
Washington University Archives chronicles the history of Washington University in St. Louis from 1853 to today, with over 300 unique collections including campus publications, reports, photographic prints and negatives, books, film, sound recordings, oral histories, architectural plans, and artifacts.