Local Library Collections (for Humanities research) (B. Zakarin 2010)

This appendix was prepared by Harriet Lightman (Head of Academic Liaison Services and Subject Librarian for History, Economics, and Philosophy at Northwestern University) and Bill McHugh (Reference Collection Management Librarian).

Contributed by: B. Zakarin, Office of Fellowships, b-zakarin@northwestern.edu
Posted: 2010


Center for Research Libraries (CRL)


The Center, also referred to as CRL, is a major repository of both primary and secondary source materials. Located in Hyde Park, this library is open to readers on a limited basis. If you want to visit CRL, call ahead for access information. Northwestern students and faculty may borrow materials from CRL via interlibrary loan (ILL), and keep this material for exceptionally long periods of time.  ILL is available at http://www.library.northwestern.edu/loan/index.html.

CRL has an online catalog, but many of their materials are uncataloged. Descriptions of the extent of their holdings, both cataloged and uncataloged, are available on their website.  Particularly useful in assessing the scope of their collections are a series of topic guides accessible from http://www.crl.edu/content.asp?l1=5&l2=22&l3=39.

CRL has very rich collections of primary source material on an extremely wide range of topics, in a number of formats. Collection areas include, but are not limited to, foreign government documents, foreign and domestic newspapers, foreign doctoral dissertations, materials from Latin America, parts of Asia, parts of the former Soviet Union, and Africa.

The Newberry Library


The Newberry Library is one of the premier collections in the United States of primary source materials for the study of Early Modern Europe; the history of printing and publishing; American literature through the 1920s; and the history of the Americas, including of Native Americans.  The Library houses outstanding collections in many aspects of the history of United States, especially the history of Chicago. A majority of the Newberry's holdings are listed in their online catalog, which can be accessed via the URL above. You must visit the Newberry to find out the scope of their holdings. The Newberry's collections do not circulate, so you must go down to the Library to use their materials. For information on access to the Newberry, please see their web site, or telephone them.  Also particularly useful are the detailed Newberry Library Collection Descriptions, available at http://www.newberry.org/core-collections.

The University of Chicago


The University of Chicago has extremely rich collections; consult their online catalog from the URL above. Northwestern students and faculty may obtain circulating University of Chicago library materials via interlibrary loan, or in person. Northwestern students/faculty have reciprocal borrowing privileges; for more information on this program, including information on how to activate your reciprocal borrowing privileges, inquire at Northwestern Library’s circulation desk, or go to http://www.library.northwestern.edu/circulation/privileges/reciprocal.html.

The University of Chicago houses collections across the humanities and social sciences, with exceptional strengths in South Asia, East Asia, and the Middle East.  The Special Collections at the University of Chicago range widely from the middle ages to modern times and cannot be quickly summarized; the Special Collections Department Web site athttp://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/spcl/ provides a useful overview.

Chicago History Museum


Extensive collections on the history of Chicago, including both published and archival materials. For more information, including information on access and hours, explore the web site noted above. The Museum's Research Center's URL is http://www.chicagohistory.org/research/aboutcollection, and includes a description of the collections.

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Special Collections


Holdings are varied, and include history of Chicago materials.  See the Special Collections and University Archives home page.   Materials are housed in both the Daley Library and the Health Sciences Library, both of which are located on UIC’s campus.  The Richard J. Daley Special Collections Department houses rare books and archival materials on the history of Chicago, among other items.


Loyola University Library


Northwestern students/faculty have reciprocal borrowing privileges at Loyola; for more information on this program, including information on how to activate your reciprocal borrowing privileges, inquire at Northwestern Library’s circulation desk, or go to this URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/circulation/privileges/reciprocal.html ; strengths include religious studies and  philosophy.

DePaul University Library


Strong collection of Latino/Latina literature in the general collection; interesting special collections include Irish literature and pulp fiction.

Chicago Public Library: Harold Washington Library Special Collections/Woodson Branch Library



Special Collections has exceptional areas of strength, especially in the history of Chicago, including theatre history, World's Fairs of 1893 and 1933-34, the history of Chicago neighborhoods, and materials on Chicago authors as well as rare books and archives. Other collections include American Civil War.  CPL houses the Harold Washington Archives & Collections. 

The Woodson Branch of the CPL, houses the Vivian G. Harsh Collection of Afro-American History and Literature.


Art Institute of Chicago: Burnham and Ryerson Libraries


One of the largest art museum libraries in the United States; extensive collections in the history of art and architecture.

Field Museum Library


Originally formed from materials garnered from the World Columbian Exposition in 1893, the library has an extensive collection of works in natural history, anthropology, and archaeology, as well as an extensive photo archive.

Adler Planetarium: Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy


An extensive collection of early astronomical works, including rare books and early astronomical instruments.

Gerber/Hart Library


The Gerber/ Hart Library is a library for  lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender resources; the special collections (open by appointment only) include a remarkable collection of pre-Stonewall periodicals and literature, periodicals and newsletters from around the world, and erotica.

Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies: Asher Library and Chicago Jewish Archives



Materials on Jewish religion and culture, including a vast array of reference materials.  The Asher Library's Special Collections include rare books dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries. Additionally, Special Collections holds the Muriel Yale Collection of Rare & Antique Maps of the Holy Land and the Ottoman Empire, which is one of the largest collections of maps of that region.

The Chicago Jewish Archives are housed at Spertus.  This archive collects materials in all formats (letters, diaries, photos, memorabilia, audio and video tapes).  The Archives are open by appointment only.  Visit the website for more information.  Records include organizations, family papers, synagogue papers, and oral history collections. 

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA): Great Lakes Regional Archive


Extensive microfilm holdings.  For more information on what is available, and on access, see the Web site noted above.




Within the Northwestern University library system, there are several special repositories.  Some of these specialized collections are listed below.  For more information, go to http://www.library.northwestern.edu/libraries-collections.  Each of these collections has specialized reference staff available for consultation.  Many primary source materials are available in microfilm/fiche, or in digital format.  Major microfilm/fiche collections are cataloged by the title of the collection, and can be found via NUcat.   


Africana Collection (Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies)


The premier collection of Africana in the United States, located on the 5th floor of the main library. Includes all aspects of African studies, including rare books, journals, poster collections, etc.

Art Collection


Located on the third floor of Deering Library, adjacent to the main library building, the Art Collection has particular strengths in European avant-garde art of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and in architectural serials of the 19th century.

Government and Geographic Information and Data Services Department


An excellent source for U.S. government documents and publications and for materials issued by the United Nations and the European Union, as well as some foreign government materials. Not all materials are listed in NUcat. Please visit the department on the main floor of the University Library, or check out their web site.

Music Library


Located on the second floor of Deering Library, which is adjacent to the main library. The Music Library has its own reference staff.

Law Library (Pritzker Legal Research Center)


The Pritzker Legal Research Center is located on Northwestern's Chicago campus. You may obtain circulating law library materials via interlibrary loan, or you may visit the library in person. Excellent legal history collections.  Many materials are listed in NUcat.

Seeley G. Mudd Library for Science & Engineering (SEL)


SEL is located on the north side of the Evanston campus, adjacent to the Technological Institute (commonly known as Tech).  Includes materials on the history of science and engineering, especially older periodical literature. Historical materials are also available at the Mathematics Library (http://www.library.northwestern.edu/math/) and the Geology Library (http://www.library.northwestern.edu/geology/).  All materials in these libraries are listed in NUcat.

Special Collections (Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections)


A rich and varied collection of Northwestern's rare holdings, located in Deering, adjacent to the main library. Subject collections are well described at the URL above.  Visit Special Collections for more information on the collections, and on access.

Transportation Library


Located on the 5th floor of the main building, this library houses a superb collection which encompasses information on all transportation modalities, including: air, rail, highway, pipeline, water, urban transport and logistics. It includes a significant collection on law enforcement, police management and traffic enforcement, and a collection of environmental impact statements which is one of the most complete in the world.  Historical as well as current materials are available.

The United Library of the Garrett-Evangelical and Seabury-Western Theological Seminaries


Located on the north side of Northwestern's Evanston campus, this collection is particularly important for the history of religion, and for topics in medieval and early modern studies.  Not all of the materials housed in The United Library are listed in NUcat; a complete search of their collection requires looking in NUcat, and in their on-site card catalog.

Galter Health Sciences Library


Located on Northwestern's Chicago campus, Galter has a good collection of rare books for medical and dental history.  Rare materials do not circulate; they must be consulted on-site, in the library.  Information on the rare book collections at Galter is available at http://www.galter.northwestern.edu/special_collections/index.cfm.


University Archives 


In Deering Library, adjacent to the main library building, the University Archives holds materials pertaining to every aspect of the history of Northwestern University.

Marjorie I. Mitchell Multimedia Center 


Located on the 2nd floor of the main building, south tower.  The collection includes VHS videotapes, laserdiscs, and DVDs.  Areas of coverage include documentaries, all areas of the performing arts, feature films and television series.  Excellent historical collection.  Materials are listed in NUcat.  More information on circulation policies are available on the website, or inquire at the Center.