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Since there are so many different kinds of materials found in Special Collections – books, papers, photographs, maps, artifacts, to name a few – there are different ways to search for them. Each of the tabs above searches a different discovery system that Special Collections uses to organize and provide access to collections. Use them all to explore and find materials for your research. For guidance exploring, accessing, and using the collections, visit the Special Collections Access Guide or contact us.

Rare books

We hold nearly 160,000 volumes from around the world dating from the 11th to the 21st centuries. There are significant works on such diverse subjects as literature, history, art, science and technology, psychology, music and theater, politics, Asia, the colleges of Oxford University, and the history of flight, to name just a few.

Listed below is a sample of some of our rare book collections by topic.

American Literature
Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
William Everson
Joaquin Miller

Asian and Asian American Studies
Frederick McCormick Korean Collection
Asian Library Special Collections

Book Arts & Fine Printing
Arion Press
Robin Price, Printer
Gillingham collection of fore-edge paintings
Eli P. Clark collection of fine bindings

British Literature
Byron/Shelley Circle
John Dryden
John Milton
Prell Collection of Edward John Trelawny
Mrs. Humphry Ward (Mary Augusta Ward)

California and the U.S. West
William Smith Mason Collection
Henry Raup Wagner Collection of early exploration of the Pacific Coast, 1500–1800

Mauger Collection of Early American School Books
Oxford Collection

Medieval manuscripts and incunabula (books printed 1450-1500)
Bodman Collection
Crispin Collection
Michael G. Wilson Collection

Roland Jackson Papers
Robert Guy McCutchan Collection of Hymnology
Charles K. North and Herbert R. Rifkind Collection
Ernestine Schumann-Heink Collection
John Laurence Seymour Collection
Albrecio DeCaprio Papers
Joseph W. Clokey Papers
Kenneth G. Fiske Papers

Protestant Bibles (manuscript and early printed)
Buddhist texts
Qur’an (manuscript)

Science and Technology
Alfred O. Woodford Geology Collection
Carruthers Memorial Aviation Collection
Denis Diderot, et. al., Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers
Herbert Hoover Collection on Mining and Metallurgy

Geraldine Womack and Norman D. Philbrick Library of Dramatic Arts and Theatre History
Theater Playbill Collections

World History
Bodman Collection of Florentine Humanism
Westergaard Collection of Nordic history

To read about the identification and value of rare books in general, see the following:

Literary and historical manuscripts

The literary and historical manuscript collections cover mainly 13th-20th century Europe and 18th-20th century America. Among our manuscript collections are papers of some Claremont families and city records; records of Southern California businesses and organizations; and papers of political, literary, scientific, and academic figures.

Some of the manuscript collections are discoverable online through finding aids in the Online Archive of California; other collections have card indexes, typewritten inventories, and description files available in the Special Collections Reading Room.

The Claremont Colleges' history

Publications, newsletters, photographs, and memorabilia of Pomona College, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences, and The Claremont Colleges Services. The Scripps College Archives are located at the Ella Strong Denison Library on the Scripps College campus.

While some of college archives are cataloged and discoverable in Library Search, we rely on in-house inventories, finding aids, and indexes for the bulk of the archives.

In Special Collections you will find:

  • College organizations’ records and scrapbooks
  • Catalogs, yearbooks, directories, and handbooks
  • Dissertations and master’s theses from Claremont Graduate University, formerly Claremont Graduate School, and the Keck Graduate Institute
  • Faculty and administrative papers and files
  • Maps and plans
  • Oral history transcripts
  • Papers of leaders of The Claremont Colleges: James A. Blaisdell, Robert J. Bernard, William W. Clary, William L. Honnold, E. Wilson Lyon, Joseph B. Platt, Harvey S. Mudd
  • Photographs
  • Student newspapers including The Collegian, Collage, Pomona Student Life, and others
  • Students’ scrapbooks, club records, and other records of students’ activities
Oral histories

Special Collections’ holdings of oral histories mainly comprise transcribed interviews conducted by the staff of the Claremont Graduate University Oral History program from the early 1960s through the 2000s. The collection numbers more than 350 documents. If you are looking for an individual’s interview in Special Collections, all of the oral history transcripts are cataloged by interviewee and subject and are searchable in Library Search.

  • Aviation
  • California
  • State and local history
  • City of Rancho Cucamonga
  • Workman and Temple Homestead Project
  • China Missionaries Project
  • Citrus Industry
  • Education
  • Ethnic Studies
    • Black Studies
    • Chicano Studies
  • Harvey Mudd College Oral History Collection
    • Origins of the Atomic Age Project
  • Industry
  • Law
  • Literature
  • Migratory Labor History
  • Movies and Theater
  • Music and Photography
  • Paris Expatriates
  • Philosophy and Psychology
  • Politics and Government
    • California State Archives Government Oral History Program
  • Governmental History Documentation Project: Ronald Reagan Era
  • Pomona College Oriental Study Expedition
  • Scripps College Oral History Collection
  • Southern California Bookmen Series
  • Dawson’s Book Shop Collection
  • World War II: Persecution and Uprising
  • Women’s Educational Politics

Planning an oral history project?  Visit the SCA Oral History Toolkit

Here you will find:

  • Documentation – release form, deed of gift, IRB form (example)
  • Reference material – checklist, field notes (sample), abstract template, image log, recording log
  • Standards – recording guide, recording standards, file formats
  • Links to local, regional, and national oral history organizations
Digitized collections

Special Collections seeks to play a role in the broader research community by creating digital collections from our special collections for research, teaching, and private study. Digitized Special Collections are provided for study through the Claremont Colleges Digital Library (CCDL).

  • You may request a copy of any Special Collections digital image for your research by using the Aeon Request button on an image page.

Find scholarship produced by students, faculty, and staff from Pomona College, Claremont Graduate University, Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, Keck Graduate Institute, the Library, and affiliates.

The Western Water Archives (WWA) offers digital primary sources from the water archives of 7 partner institutions:  The Claremont Colleges Library, A.K. Smiley Public Library, California State University Northridge – Oviatt Library Special Collections & Archives,  California State University, San Bernardino – Water Resources Institute (WRI),  National Archives at Riverside, Ontario City Library, and Upland Public Library, including blueprints, correspondence, ephemera, ledgers, legal papers, maps, pamphlets, photographs, plans, reports, scrapbooks, and technical documents.

Explore themed guides and checklists that we have created for classes, exhibitions, and events. These thematic bibliographies provide glimpses into the breadth and depth of rare and unique collections that are available for your research in Special Collections.

Donate to SCA

We deeply appreciate your interest in contributing to and supporting Special Collections. Your gift will help us continue to build and steward our collections and services.

While we gratefully accept gifts-in-kind such as books and manuscripts, sometimes what is offered does not meet our needs. Please read more about our collecting priorities below. Special Collections can not accept collections that are closed to public access in perpetuity nor can we accept collections on temporary or permanent deposit.

Unrestricted gifts for acquisitions are always appreciated, and we are thankful for financial gifts of any size. They make a difference in the quality of collections and services we offer. Your gift can support the conservation of fragile books or for digitization of collections; your gift also can support the Claremont Center for Engagement with Primary Sources (CCEPS) or the First-Floor Press, where students to learn to set type and print using 19th century iron printing presses.

  • The Claremont Colleges’ history
  • Local history – Claremont and the Inland Empire; Los Angeles
  • Western U.S. history
  • Literary and historical manuscripts
  • History of books and printing, fine printing and artists’ books
  • Environmental history in the Western U.S., especially California; special focus is water resources
  • Social movements of the 19th-21st centuries
  • Performing arts
  • History of science and technology
  • Photography
  • Aviation history
  • Asia and the Pacific Rim
  • History of Oxford University

If you wish to support Special Collections by making a financial gift and/or a gift-in-kind, please contact Special Collections or call (909) 607-3977. Internal Revenue Service regulations prevent us from making any statement regarding the dollar value of potential gifts.