The 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.
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.
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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 Festival; James 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.
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.
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.
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