Be sure and stop by the lobby level of Mullins Library this summer to see a selection of new acquisitions on display from the Special Collections department. Curated by me – Lori Birrell, head of Special Collections – this exhibit represents but a handful of items we’ve added to our collections in the past year. You might be asking yourself, how does Special Collections grow its collections?

Special Collections depends on the generosity of individuals, families, and organizations – locally, nationally, and internationally – to build its collections. As an archive at a university, we’re interested in original materials that can be useful for researchers, whether now or in the future. The types of items in our collections tend to be works on paper, including letters, architectural drawings, photographs, and much, much more. Our collections fall into several main categories: manuscripts, university archives, and rare books. If you’re interested in learning more about what we collect, I hope you’ll take a look at our collection development policy that can be found here. This policy guides us as we work with prospective donors who are looking for a home for their materials.

One of my favorite items from the new acquisitions exhibit is a letter from May 12, 1936 written by then First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. In the letter, written to novelist and poet Bernie Babcock, Roosevelt shares her excitement about an upcoming visit to Arkansas. She writes: “I am looking forward to being with you all in June.” Typed on White House stationary with a hand-written signature, this letter – though short – is but one example of the connections to national figures and movements that researchers can find in our collections. Part of the Diane Rowland Research Materials on Bernie Babcock (MC 2293), this collection provides a jumping off point for researchers interested in examining topics related to literature, poetry, civic organizations, and the process of doing research on a high profile figure from Arkansas in the mid-twentieth century.

It’s truly enjoyable to curate an exhibit featuring a selection of our new acquisitions. The breadth and depth of our holdings becomes instantly apparent as the subjects of the items range from plays produced by a local theater company, university history, landscape architecture, outreach to the Marshallese community, and poetry. If you have materials you think would enhance our collections in support of the university’s research and learning mission, I hope you’ll contact me: