Contents and Arrangement

Series 4: Rare Books and Special Collections Department, 1768-2017

214 boxes
Restrictions may apply. See Access Note.

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

This series contains the records of the Princeton University Library's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. First organized in 1948-49, the Department has oversight of the Library's holdings of rare books, manuscripts, graphic arts, and numismatics, as well as several other special collections such as the University Archives, the Public Policy papers, and the Cotsen Children's Library. The origins of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections extend nearly to the beginning of the Library, and much of this material predates the official formation of RBSC as a unit. Other records concerning the early Department of Rare Books and Special Collections can be found in Subseries 1D: Julian Parks Boyd. Please see subseries descriptions for further information regarding the individual subseries.


Arranged into six subseries: Correspondence, Department Chiefs/Association University Librarians for Rare Books and Special Collections, Collections and Divisions, Annual Reports, Miscellaneous Records and Correspondence, and Website.

Collection History


Periodic transfers of records from the Library are expected indefinitely.


No information on appraisal is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Christie Lutz, Daniel Brennan, David Ault, Rutgers University '08, Mercy Chesiror '10, Samuel Clendon '07, Sophia Echavarria '09, Christina McMillan '07, Joshua Muketha '10, Sarah Vitali '11, and Porter White '08 between September 2006 and October 2007. Finding aid written by Christie Lutz and Daniel Brennan in October 2007. Additional material integrated and finding aid updated by Christie Peterson with assistance from Ameena Schelling '12 in November 2010-January 2011. Series 14: John Foster Dulles Oral History Project Records was added and finding aid updated by Christie Peterson with assistance from Doug Newton '12, Suchi Mandvilli '14, and Eleanor Wright '14 in July-October 2011. Digital materials were processed by Elena Colon-Marrero in June 2015. Series 20 was processed by Jarrett M. Drake in January 2016. Series 4F was processed by Valencia L. Johnson in October 2017. Series 22 added by Valencia L. Johnson in December 2017. Series 11 addition processed and finding aid updated by Annalise Berdini in March 2018. Series 22 and 23 processed and updated by Valencia L. Johnson in June 2018. Additions found in repository processed and finding aid updated by Phoebe Nobles in August 2019. Series 21E was processed and added to the finding aid by Quin DeLaRosa in August 2022.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Material older than 30 years that does not pertain to personnel issues is open for research use. Restrictions beyond 30 years have been noted in the relevant series and folder descriptions.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. The Trustees of Princeton University hold copyright to all materials generated by Princeton University employees in the course of their work. For instances beyond Fair Use, if copyright is held by Princeton University, researchers do not need to obtain permission, complete any forms, or receive a letter to move forward with use of materials from the Princeton University Archives.

For instances beyond Fair Use where the copyright is not held by the University, while permission from the Library is not required, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection contains materials created, used, or maintained in a variety of computing environments. Researchers are responsible for meeting the technical requirements needed to access these materials, including any and all hardware and software.

Credit this material:

Series 4: Rare Books and Special Collections Department; Princeton University Library Records, AC123, Princeton University Archives, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345
Storage Note:
  • Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Boxes 150-210; 326-332; 336-338; 348; 379-382; 384-389; 395; 397-407; 457-459; 488-490; 517-629; 632-633

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Related Materials

As one of Princeton University's largest entities, nearly all University administrative records held at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library relate to the University Library in some way. These various record groups are particularly valuable for demonstrating how the Library relates to differing elements of the Princeton University community, including upper-level administration (Office of the President Records, Office of the Provost Records), academic departments (Department of Art and Archaeology Records, School of Engineering and Applied Science Records), and Alumni (President's Program Records). Technical records and subject files which document the evolution of the Library's facilities are also available in several collections (Grounds and Buildings Historical Subject Files, Office of Physical Planning Records).

The personal papers of some prominent figures in the history of the Princeton University Library are also available in the Special Collections. These include the William S. Dix Papers (University Archives), the Elmer Adler Papers (Manuscript Division), the Howard C. Rice Correspondence with Alexander Wainwright (Manuscript Division), the Julian P. Boyd Papers (Manuscript Division), the Ernest Cushing Richardson Collection (Manuscript Division), and the Selected Papers of Maurice Kelley (Manuscript Division).

An overview of University Library activities can be obtained from the Annual Reports of the President, as well as editions of the Library Handbook. Numerous printed volumes also document specific collections and aspects of Library history, and are cataloged individually in the Library's main catalog.


In the composition of this finding aid's history section, the following works were consulted: Berberian, Kevork R., Princeton University Library, 1746-1980, 1980 Dix, William S., "The Princeton University Library in the Eighteenth Century," 1978 Leitch, Alexander, A Princeton Companion, 1978 The Princeton University Library Chronicle (multiple editions) The Princeton Alumni Weekly (multiple editions) Annual Report of the President, 1986

Princeton University. Library
Princeton University. Library. Buildings.
Princeton University. Library. Catalogs.
Princeton University. Library. Cotsen Children's Library.
Princeton University. Library. Employees. Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Princeton University. Library. Friends.
Princeton University. Library. History.
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Boyd, Julian P. (Julian Parks), 1903-1980
Dix, William S.
Gerould, James Thayer, 1872-1951
Heyl, Lawrence, 1893-
Kelley, Maurice, 1903-1996
Koepp, Donald W., 1929-
Lindsley, Philip, 1786-1855
Ludwig, Richard M., 1920-
Richardson, Ernest Cushing, 1860-1939
Vinton, Frederic, 1817-1890