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.
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.
Search the Local History Collections on ArchivesSpace
Mapping LGBTQ St. LouisMapping LGBTQ digital collection uses maps to explore the St. Louis' LGBTQ communities from 1945 to the passage of St....View Collection about Mapping LGBTQ St. Louis
Architecture CollectionsDetailed original drawings for notable local structures along with documents from architectural firms.View Collection about Architecture Collections
St. Louis Politics & ActivismThe St. Louis History Collection holds the City of St. Louis Mayor's administrations and board of aldermen files, offering a...View Collection about St. Louis Politics & Activism
Business HistorySt. 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
LGBTQ+ HistoryWashington University Libraries joined the St. Louis LGBTQ+ History Project's Collecting Initiative to ensure this history is preserved.View Collection about LGBTQ+ History
Unreal City19th century St. Louis fire insurance maps produced by Alphonso Whipple.View Collection about Unreal City
1904 World’s FairResearchers 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
Digital Collections highlight those portions of the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections that have been made or born-digital.
Dowd Illustration Research Archive
The Dowd Illustration Research Archive (formerly 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.
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.
Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library Special Collections
The Art & Architecture Special Collections is a 3,600 volume collection of rare and unique art and design printed materials located at the Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library. The main focus is illustrated books, prints, and photographs from the 18th and 19th centuries.
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.