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McCormick Library of Special Collections: General Information

About the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections

book closeupThe Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections is home to many of the Libraries’ rarest materials from incunabula to works of the present day. The holdings include manuscripts, archives, broadsides, prints, photographs, artifacts, ephemera and more.

Our materials are open to the general public and the entire Northwestern community; no special credentials or permissions are required. Although they do not circulate, materials can be viewed in the Jens Nyholm Reading room.

Some of our holdings are housed in off-site storage, and may require up to two days for retrieval. Please contact us if you need assistance requesting an item in advance of your visit. 

                                                                         Please see our Reading Room Policies for more information.

Requesting Material

The great majority of our titles are cataloged, and their records may be located in NUsearch

To request an item, create an account in the Special Collections Request System, and submit/schedule a request.  Once you arrive and register, typical turnaround time is less than five minutes and materials can be viewed in the Jens Nyholm Reading Room, as our materials do not circulate. A small percentage of items are located at the Libraries' off-campus storage facility, the Oak Grove Library Center, and are available via NUsearch.

For archival materials, view a list of Special Collections finding aids or search through the Archival and Manuscript Collections database and request items from a staff member. There is also an alphabetical list of important individuals represented in archives or in our general manuscript material files.

Any Northwestern-affiliated patron or registered guest can request items, which can be available as soon as the next business day for consultation in our reading room.  The number of works you may use simultaneously may be limited. Works you wish to consult again in the near future will be held on our hold shelf upon your request. 

Other Local Resources

Newberry Library

A world-renowned independent research library in Chicago, the Newberry offers readers an extensive noncirculating collection of rare books, maps, music, manuscripts, and other printed material spanning six centuries. Its staff provides award-winning service and supports a rich array of programmatic opportunities.

UIC Special Collections and University Archives

The Special Collection and University Archives of the University of Illinois at Chicago houses rare books and printed materials, manuscript collections, and university archives, specializing in the history of Chicago.

University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center

The Special Collections Research Center is the principal repository for and steward of the Library's rare books, manuscripts, University Archives, and the Chicago Jazz Archives. It holds an extensive collection of early printed books; manuscript collections, including papyri, medieval and Renaissance codices, and early modern European manuscripts; as well as modern American manuscript material; and official administrative records of the University of Chicago.

Chicago Collections

Explore Chicago Collections lets researchers, teachers and students search many locations at once. A unified search lets you locate thousands of archival collections and digital images at member institutions all over the Chicago area including the Chicago Public Library, University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Chicago.

Chicago History Museum

CHM’s mission—to share Chicago’s stories, serving as a hub of scholarship and learning, inspiration, and civic engagement—is the foundation of the Museum’s programs and events, exhibitions, educational initiatives, publications, and collecting activities that touch the lives of all Chicagoans and help them make meaningful and personal connections to history.

Ryerson & Burnham Libraries

The Ryerson & Burnham Libraries constitute a major art and architecture research collection serving The Art Institute of Chicago and scholars in the fields of art and architectural history with more than 500,000 print titles, 100,000 auction catalogs, 1,200 current serial subscriptions, and extensive digital collections.

Highlighted Collecting Areas

The 1960s: Brochures, pamphlets, and ephemera from the Second-Wave feminism movement; materials on anti-war activities, civil rights, gay rights, and the ecology movement; counterculture periodicals; mainstream and underground comix

20th-century politics and history: The Spanish Civil War; posters from France's May-June 1968 strike; World War II underground publications; huge collections of political and anarchist pamphlets.

Literature: American and English fiction and poetry; foreign monographs; science fiction and fantasy pulp paperbacks, gay pulp novels; Samuel Johnson; Horace.

The avant-garde: Dadaist, surrealist, and futurist books; publications and archives of Fluxus-related artists and musicians such as Charlotte Moorman, Dick Higgins, Philip Corner, and Jim McWilliams; working files of The Outsider magazine; the Am-Mi (American Mid-century) Collection of 1960s and '70s small-press poetry and fiction.

Archival Collections: Berkeley Folk Music FestivalJames B. Pinker; Garnett Family; Dublin Gate Theatre; Viola Spolin; Michael McDowell Death Collection; Charles G. Dawes; Tambimuttu; Leopold & Loeb; James Joyce.

Graphic Arts: Books and serials focusing on typography; bookbinding; book design; and illustration.

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgender Periodicals

Siege and Commune of Paris

Prints and broadsides: William Hogarth; James Gillray

This is just a small sample of the some of the types of material housed in the McCormick Library. For a more complete overview, please visit our library homepage.

Reproductions from the Collection

Many materials can be reproduced on request, and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. See our Reproductions from our Collections page for the online form and information about reproduction fees and available digital file formats.

Note that text or images quoted or reproduced must be credited properly as belonging to the McCormick Library of Special Collections, by using the credit line "Courtesy Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University Libraries." See the policies tab of our Reproductions from our Collections page for more information.

Other Archival Resources


ArchiveGrid includes over 5 million records describing archival materials, bringing together information about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more. With over 1,000 different archival institutions represented, ArchiveGrid helps researchers looking for primary source materials held in archives, libraries, museums and historical societies.

Archives Hub

The Archives Hub brings together descriptions of thousands of the UK’s archive collections. Representing over 330 institutions across the country, the Archives Hub is an effective way to discover unique and often little-known sources to support your research. New descriptions are added every week, often representing collections being made available for the first time.


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Jason Nargis
Deering Library Level 3, 1970 Campus Drive, Evanston IL 60208

Contact Us


Deering Library Level 3, 1970 Campus Drive, Evanston IL 60208


Call 847-491-3635 or email Special Collections.

See staff assistance hours on our hours webpage.


Special Collections Staff

Scott Krafft, Curator
Call 847-491-2895 or email

Jason Nargis, Special Collections Librarian
Call 847-491-2894 or email

Nick Munagian, Research Services Manager
Call 847-491-3635 or email

Sigrid P. Perry, Library Assistant
Call 847-491-3635 or email

Kolter Campbell, Library Assistant 
Call 847-491-2894 or email