Special Collections

Lawrence University has four named special collections that constitute approximately 7,200 titles with particular strength in Americana of the nineteenth century, including the American Civil War, the Wisconsin Territory and the state of Wisconsin.

See the Collections and Reading Rooms page for information on the contents of these collections and the rooms in which they are housed.


Access to items in the Milwaukee Downer Collection or the Civil War Collection is available when a librarian is at the Reference Desk: Monday-Thursday 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. : Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. : Sunday 1 p.m. – 9 p.m. or by appointment. The Wisconsin and Kruse Collections are open collections.

Special Collections Registration

Users of Special Collections material must first come to the Reference Desk to fill out a registration form. Lawrence students, faculty and staff are requested to bring their LU ID; community users are asked to show a current driver’s license or state ID. Lawrence University faculty and staff complete one form per year. Lawrence students complete one form per term. Community users complete one form per use.

Items you have requested will be retrieved for use under the supervision of a librarian. We will check these items out to you and request that you return them to the Reference Desk when you are finished. If you would like the library to hold this item for you to look at later, inform the Reference Librarian and it will be locked in a hold cabinet for your future use. When you come back to look at the item, let the Reference Librarian know we have held it for you.

If you have any questions about locating materials in the catalog, please contact the Reference Desk.

Handling of Material

  • Materials do not leave the library and must be used in our specially designated area and under the supervision of a librarian. Please do not leave material unattended in the building.
  • We request you wash your hands prior to handling items.
  • No eating or drinking will be allowed at the table where you are using the material.
  • If necessary, a book cradle will be used to help support the item.
  • Pencil or computer only in the area of the item to take notes.
  • Please see the Reference Librarian for permission to copy, scan, or photograph material.
  • Please inform the librarian when you have fully completed your use of each item so it can be returned and reshelved in its proper collection.

Special Collections Blog

Special Collections for Enhancing Classroom Experience

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 2:06pm
Written by Jill G. Thomas, Director of Technical Services This academic year the Mudd Library welcomed five classes that engaged with our special collections: History of the Book, ENGL 527/HIST 385; Early Medieval Art and Architecture, ARTHI 210; Gothic and Northern Renaissance Art and Architecture, ARTHI 213, Intermediate Artist Books, ART 322; and Lincoln: Revolutionary …

Class Use

Lawrence faculty may wish to use the resources in our Special Collections in their classes. While we allow Special Collections materials to be used outside of the library on a case by case basis, we will work with you to find a space in the library where the materials can be viewed by the group under the supervision of a librarian. Please contact Jill Thomas if interested.