Welcome to Special Collections

Special Collections preserves and provides access to materials that are rare, fragile, and irreplaceable. It's home to the oldest, newest, rarest, weirdest, and most beautiful materials in Ellis Library.


Which is the oldest book in Special Collections?

Visitors often ask us about the oldest book in Special Collections, but it depends on how you define old - and how you define book. Browse these selections to see a few ideas on this subject.

What's new in Special Collections?

We are actively collecting materials from the entire timespan of history and around the globe, with an emphasis on adding underrepresented voices and supporting the Mizzou curriculum. Materials come into the collection through purchase, donation, or transfer from other parts of the library. Here are just a few of our newest acquisitions.

What is the rarest book in Special Collections?

Many of the items in Special Collections are here because there just simply aren't very many of them in the world. While it's hard to say what the rarest item in the collection is, anything made by hand is considered to be unique - one of a kind - because even a direct copy can't completely replicate the original. Manuscripts, works of art, and scrapbooks are all examples of unique items.

What is the weirdest thing in Special Collections?

Weird is in the eye of the beholder, so we asked the Special Collections staff to pick the items they think are the strangest. 

What's the most beautiful thing in Special Collections?

Many of the things in Special Collections are beautiful, and for many different reasons. See below for our staff picks.

More About Special Collections

Materials in Special Collections total over 100,000 items. The collections are diverse and range from a substantial rare book collection with material dating to the eighth century to the comic arts collection, focused on underground comics, classic comic strips, and graphic novels. The collections include books, periodicals, manuscripts, maps, posters, printed ephemera, and artifacts.

This exhibit is a part of the University Libraries Online Scavenger Hunt. Whether or not you're a scavenger hunter, use this exhibit to explore just a few of the items in these amazing collections.

You're welcome to use the collections!

Make an appointment.

Appointments require 24 hours' notice.