October Is American Archives Month!

Celebrate American Archives Month

October is American Archives Month, established to draw attention to the important materials that are being preserved in library archives throughout the country. The new renovation to Olin Library has made Washington University Libraries’ archives even more accessible by providing a new vault space to make more of our archives available on the Danforth Campus. Come by the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections and take a look.

Learn More About Our Collections


In our extensive Manuscripts Collection you can find everything from papyrus fragments dating back to the first century BC to animal-themed notebooks that contain the writings (and doodles) of modern playwright Samuel Beckett.




The Rare Books Collection contains over 60,000 printed volumes and includes texts from the fourteenth century to the present day. Rare books also houses an extensive collection of children’s literature and collections on the history of printing, graphic design, cryptography, and writing systems.


Special Collections is About More Than Just Books…


Are you more interested in film than texts? The Film and Media Archive collects photos, interview outtakes, stock footage, producers’ research, notes, correspondence, and scripts on a variety of subjects and has particularly large collections related to Civil Rights, African-American life, the history of Harlem, and social justice.



The D. B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library preserves aspects of visual culture including illustrations from books, magazines, advertising, comics, posters, and more. In addition to published prints, they also have a large number of original artist sketches.

The Popular American Culture Archives preserve other forms of media including music, theater, and dance that trace American cultural development.


Explore Local History!


Wash U also has a large archive on the city of St Louis in its Local History Archives, from mayoral papers to photos of historic buildings and local protests. This collection also includes archives on sports in St. Louis and the now defunct St. Louis Car Company, among other treasures.



Interested in the history of Washington University itself? You can check out the University Archives for historic university photos, student publications, Wash U memorabilia, and collections from famous alumni and faculty.



Remember, this is only a very small sample of the resources Special Collections has to offer!

This month, we encourage you to explore our holdings and find an archive that piques your interests, whatever they may be. You can browse our holdings by subject (WWI archives, baseball history in St. Louis, film history, and so on) under “Special Collections” at http://libguides.wustl.edu/ or use the search tool to find a specific topic or item. If you need any assistance, our librarians are always happy to help!




About the author

Rose is a PhD candidate in English and American Literature at Washington University in St. Louis. When she is not working on her dissertation on post-1945 asylum novels or blogging about the amazing materials in Special Collections, she fills much of her time reading, writing, gardening, and wrestling.