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Research Guides@Tufts

Tisch Library Special Collections

What We Have

Tisch Special Collections holds medieval manuscripts, incunabula, early printed books from many of the most important figures in printing history - including a collection of books from the press of Aldus Manutius - works of early modern science and medicine, travel and exploration, philosophy, religion, history, politics, art, theater, and music; a large collection of 19th century American pamphlets; facsimiles of Japanese and Islamic manuscripts; and personal libraries (e.g. Hosea Ballou 2d, founding president of Tufts, the Ritter music history collection, the English history collection of Professor Edwin C. Bolles, and Tufts poet John Holmes's poetry book collection).  

Students study medieval manuscript fragments  Penwork initial, Tufts Univ. MS 15, 1398.  Book bound in a leaf from a medieval manuscript

Access to Special Collections

COVID-19 & Special Collections: The reading room is open only by appointment. The Special Collections staff is working on-site. To discuss options for research and for other queries, please send email to specialcollections@tufts.edu.

Most books in Special Collections may be called to the reading room by selecting a link in the catalog record, "Request to view this item in the Archives Reading Room." The exceptions are medieval manuscripts and manuscript fragments, which are available for study by appointment. Please contact the Curator of Rare Books.

It is possible to limit one's search to Special Collections when using Jumbosearch. Choose Advanced search, and add "Tufts Special Collections" on one line, as keywords. 

To arrange a class visit or research consultation, please contact Christopher Barbour, Curator of Rare Books

        

What We Collect

Current collecting emphases include:

  • Premodern manuscripts and manuscript facsimiles
  • Early printed books in science, medicine, religion, exploration & travel, political philosophy, Classical philosophy, literature in Latin, French, English, and Italian
  • Examples of early printing noteworthy in the evolution of reading and printing practices, and for innovations in typography, book design, and illustration; women printers; influential printers such as Aldus, Scoto, Giunti, Estienne, Baskerville, Didot
  • Art and architecture
  • Slavery and abolition
  • American history - colonial, early republic, and 19th century
  • 19th century French, English, and American literature
  • Black authors
  • Women authors
  • Books noteworthy for illustration, and books marking the revival of hand-printing, especially to support instruction at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts

Other special collections at Tufts

Other Tufts's special collections include those of the W. Van Alan Clark, Jr. Library at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA), the Hirsch Health Sciences Library, the Lilly Music Library, and the Webster Family Library at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

Tisch Special Collections are exclusively rare books. Tufts's publications, University records, and archival collections (mainly non-book) can be found at Digital Collections and Archives.

See Uniquely Tufts on the Tisch homepage.