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Special Collections | New

About Us

J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections is dedicated to preserving and sharing the past. Our Rare Book, Manuscript, University Archives, Oral History, Local Documents, and Digital Collections enhance research at all levels.

History of Special Collections

The unit was established in 1973 to administer the library's Rare Books and Manuscripts collections and the University Archives. The organization of the unit was stimulated by a substantial gift for the purchase of rare books by Harry L. Dalton, local businessman, bibliophile and art collector. The collections now include almost 8,500 rare books, 1000 oral history interviews, more than 1,500,000 manuscripts items and approximately 1,400,000 items in the University Archives. All materials are non-circulating and must be used in the Dalton Rare Book and Manuscript Room.


The Special Collections Unit, through its collections of rare books, manuscripts, university archives, oral histories, and local documents, contributes to the ability of the Library and Information Services to create and share information by providing original research materials not otherwise available. This is achieved by appropriate collection development policies and cooperation with other institutions, exemplary services offered to a diverse clientele, commitment to teamwork and partnership, and the application of enabling technology.



Researchers must complete and sign a registration form once each academic year (August 1 - July 31) and must provide acceptable identification (driver's license or photographic I.D.).

Special Collections staff assist patrons in locating books, documents, manuscripts, maps, photographs, and other material, as well as access to the UNC Charlotte Archives, the information source for the University's history. In some cases, staff may direct you to other sources in Atkins Library and outside the University.

All purses, coats, briefcases, backpacks, and other personal belongings are to be deposited in provided lockers. Only pencils may be used in the Reading Room. Food and drink are not permitted.

Personal computers, digital cameras, and portable scanners may be used in the Reading Room provided that such use does not disturb other researchers. Use of cellular phones is not permitted.

Please use one manuscript box at a time, and remove one folder at a time. Manuscripts and archival materials are to be maintained in the order in which they are received by the researcher. If any material is discovered to be out of order, please notify the staff member on duty. Please do not rearrange papers.

If you have any questions about the use of Special Collections materials, please consult the Reading Room staff.


The development of the rare book and manuscript collections has occurred primarily because of the generosity of private citizens, and further growth depends upon a continuation and widening of that support. 

Persons who contribute money, books or manuscripts become partners in the University's mission to educate students and advance scholarship, but they also receive more direct benefits. For example, those who donate cherished family collections can be assured that their rare books or manuscripts will be protected to a far greater degree than is usually possible in any home, and they will have created permanent memorials to themselves or their ancestors.

While donations of rare books in all subjects are welcomed, we especially solicit books on subjects in which we have already established modest strengths. These are American studies, including literature, history, art and architecture, children's books, the history of North and South Carolina, and English literature with a concentration on the drama. 

In addition to the potential for developing the Rare Book Collection, we have an excellent opportunity to establish a major research center for the study of the Metrolina region. This goal can be achieved only with the assistance of local citizens committed to the preservation of the unpublished history of their communities. 

Among the kinds of material that will provide sources for researchers are letters, diaries, legal and financial records, personal reminiscences, photographs, architectural drawings, and memorabilia. These materials may include the papers of individuals long dead or with many productive years ahead of them, of families large and small, influential and unknown, and of organizations, including businesses, churches, neighborhood groups, political parties, and women's organizations from the DAR to NOW. Subjects may range from politics to routine family matters and from literature to visual and aural documentation of the past. 

Large collections created over long periods of time and dealing with a variety of activities are important but so, too, are smaller collections and single documents. 

The creators of these materials need not have been the elite of their time, as historians are also interested in the lives of average people and minorities. The most significant consideration is that the material add details to our knowledge of the past that otherwise might not be preserved and that are necessary to complete the historical records. 

Please contact Special Collections at 704-687-1170 for more information on donating materials.



Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm 

Closed Saturday & Sunday

Appointments are not necessary, but researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance of their visits so that relevant materials may be retrieved prior to their arrival.