Manuscript Collections

There are several hundred manuscript collections located in The Rare Book & Manuscript Library. They range in size from a single object, to several hundred cubic feet in extent.

Broad and deep, various and wonderful, the collections document a wide array of lives, subjects, formats, and time periods; from Incunabula to the H.G. Wells papers, and from illuminated manuscripts to the Spanish Civil War--there is something here for every interest.

Selected Manuscript and Named Collections

ALLINGHAM, WILLIAM (1824-1899)—PAPERS, 1846-1920, 2.0 cu. ft.

Papers of William Allingham, an Irish poet, editor of Fraser's Magazine and a supporter of the Pre-Raphaelite movement in art and literature, and his wife, Helen Patterson Allingham (1848- 1926), an artist. The papers include notes, sketches, portraits, documents, letters and holograph manuscripts.

Click here to be linked to the finding aid for the Allingham Papers.


This collection consists of more than 5,800 volumes of 16th-, 17th-, and 18th-century texts of classical authors, commentaries, Bibles and prayer books, rhetorics, histories, and English literature, particularly of the Elizabethan period. The catalog groups books by subject, listing author, short title, and place and year of publication; shelfmarks and other annotations have been added in manuscript.

Click here to be linked to a searchable scanned guide to the Baldwin Collection.

Click here to be linked to the bibliographic record for the Baldwin Catalog.

BASKETTE, EWING C. (1903-1959)—COLLECTION, 1894-1959, 1.5 cu. ft.

Papers of Ewing C. Baskette, lawyer, librarian, and bibliographer. Includes speeches, letters, and manuscripts on cases dealing with anarchism, the "Centralia Massacre," communal living, syndicalism, socialism, the International Workers of the World, freedom of expression and censorship. A supporting book collection on censorship and intellectual freedom contains approximately 10,000 volumes.

BENTLEY, RICHARD AND SON—PAPERS, 1806-1915, 29.0 cu. ft.

The files of Richard Bentley and Son, a London publishing house, 1829-1898: Richard Bentley, 1794-1871; George Bentley, 1828-1895 and Richard Bentley II, 1854-1936. Includes literary and business correspondence; ledgers, minutes of company meetings and legal agreements; personal and business diaries; authors' manuscripts; clippings and advertisements relating to literary, legal and business matters; the Henry Colburn publishing firm (1806-35), subscription and publication lists. Correspondents are listed in Gordon N. Ray, "The Bentley Papers" in The Library, 5:7:3: 178-200 (September 1952). The collection has been microfilmed Chadwick-Healey.

Click here for the bibliographic record for Index to the Archives of Richard Bentley & Son, 1829-1898.

CAVAGNA COLLECTION, 1116-1913, 90 cu. ft.

Collection of Count Antonio Cavagna Sangiuliani di Gualdana (1843-1913), Italian nobleman, writer and bibliophile. Consists of 138 portfolios of unbound manuscripts arranged alphabetically by place, 290 bound volumes of manuscript material (ca. 50 items earlier than 1600) and 100 volumes of later transcripts from Italian archives.

EVANS, CHARLES (1850-1935)—PAPERS, 1869-1935, 3.0 cu. ft.

Papers of Charles Evans, librarian, bibliographer and author of American Bibliography, 1639-1820; his wife, Lena Y. Evans; and his sons Charles "Chick" Evans, Jr., Eliot H. Evans and John Evans. Includes letters, scrapbooks, bankbooks, published and unpublished literary and scholarly manuscripts, manuscript speeches, ledger books, personal documents, notes and photog graphs relating to the preparation of American Bibliography, and works for the American Antiquarian Society and the Bibliographical Society of America.


Collection of books and pamphlets gathered by Gustav Groeber, Professor of Romance Philology at the University of Strassburg. This is a strong collection of books bearing on the Romance languages and literature; particularly rich in linguistics and in Provencal and Italian literature. Pamphlets include practically every brochure published in Germany on Romance topics. Also contains approximately 6,400 volumes.

Click here for the Groeber Collection Finding List.

HERON, FLODDEN W.—COLLECTION, 1876-1895, .1 cu ft.

Collection of Flodden W. Heron relating to Lewis Carroll (Charles L. Dodgson) including letters, photographs and memorabilia.

Click here for the finding aid to the Heron Collection.

HOLLANDER, JACOB H. (1871-1940)—COLLECTION, .3 cu. ft.

Collection of Jacob H. Hollander, American economist, author and professor of political economy at Johns Hopkins University (1900-1935). Includes letters dealing with economics, chiefly nineteenth-century English economics. A supporting collection of books in the history of economics is also available.

Click here to be linked to the bibliograhic record and digitized version of the printed catalog of the Hollander Collection.

Click here to be linked to the bibliographic record and digitized version of the supplement to the catalog.

Click here to be linked to a searchable online finding aid.

JONES, JAMES (1921-1977)—COLLECTION, 3.0 cu.ft.

Collection of Gloria Jones Papers related to James Jones, American author of the novel From Here To Eternity, published in 1951 and winner of the National Book Award. The collection includes letters, books, manuscripts, documents, photographs and serials pertaining to his life as a soldier fighting in World War II and as a member of the Handy Writers Colony at Robinson, Illinois.

JONES, SAMUEL A. (1834-1912)— PAPERS, 1860-1905, 3.0 cu. ft.

Papers of Samuel A. Jones, homeopathic physician and scholar of American Transcendentalism. Includes personal records; diaries; reading logs; records of book acquisitions; documents and correspondence pertaining to his service as a Civil War surgeon; records of homeopathic drug provings; manuscripts of medical lectures; manuscripts and proofs of published works; unpublished poems and essays.

MAXWELL, WILLIAM (1908-2000)— PAPERS, 1928-1998.

This collection contains the papers of William Maxwell (1908-2000), American author and fiction editor of The New Yorker from 1936-1976. Contents include the manuscripts of Maxwell's published works, reviews, poetry and novels, as well as newspapers and journal clippings and items from his personal library. Literary and personal correspondence constitutes a large part of this collection. Correspondents include such literary figures as Mary McCarthy, Vladimir Nabokov, J.D. Salinger, John Updike, Eudora Welty and William Carlos Williams.

Search the Maxwell Papers finding aid.

MEINE, FRANKLIN J. (1896-1968)—COLLECTION, 1890-1965, .1 cu. ft.

Collection of noted Chicago bookseller Franklin J. Meine concerning Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) including letters and clippings. Supporting collections in American Wit and Humor and the Mississippi Valley region, and regional American Humor, and the Robert B. Downs Collection of American Wit and Humor. The collection contains approximately 9,000 volumes.

MERWIN, W.S. (b. 1927)—PAPERS

Pulitzer Prize winning poet, translator, and environmental activist; the archive consists of books, notes, manuscripts, correspondence, ideas for poems, published and unpublished works, translations of other author's works, critical writings by Merwin, and select writings about Merwin. The Merwin archive presents the opportunity to study the poet's work, for research into the overall development of American poetry in this century, and an increased understanding of the poetic process.

Search the Merwin Papers finding aids.


The Motley Collection contains costume plates, scene design renderings, production plans and notes of the celebrated British theater design team, "Motley." The collection contains more than 5,000 items from 104 productions performed from the 1930s to 1960s.

Search the Motley Collection finding aids.

Click here to find digital images of the collection.

MUDIE, CHARLES E. (1818-1890)—COLLECTION, 1816-1897, .3 cu. ft.

Collection of Charles E. Mudie, English collector and proprietor of "Mudie's Circulating Libraries." Includes letters, photographs, broadsides, passports and a travel diary (1859), regarding subscriptions to the Circulating Library, nineteenth–century books, the book trade, British politics, Italian unification, European travel, opening of "Mudie's Great Hall" in 1860, literary matters, family genealogy and personal matters.


The correspondence and other papers of French author Marcel Proust provide a look at the man and his times. Proust had a large and varied number of correspondents, and his letters include an important source of information about Parisian life and French culture at the turn of the century.

Search the Philip Kolb Collection of Marcel Proust Papers finding aid.

RICHARDS, GRANT (1872-1936)—PAPERS, 30.2 cu. ft.

Papers of Grant Richards, British publisher and author. Includes correspondence; incomplete typescripts of novels and other personal papers; advertisements; book reviews; photographs; account books; early agreements, 1905-1920; publication ledger, 1897-1902; and author agreements, 1906-1930 relating to routine publishing house business, copyright problems and other legal and literary matters.


These collections have two major groups of materials.

The "Connemara Transfer" of the Carl Sandburg papers (1898-1962, 125.0 cu. ft) includes typescripts and corrected galley proofs of Sandburg's works and correspondence (1916-62) with literary and public figures, scholars and admirers about writing, American folk songs, Abraham Lincoln, journalism and lecture tours. The collection also contains a Spanish-American War diary (1898), lectures (1908- 09), recordings and transcriptions of Sandburg's radio broadcasts and lectures and magazine articles and newspaper clippings by and about him. The papers also include Lombard College publications (1898-1902), material concerning the Chicago Daily News (1917-32) and a supporting book collection of approximately 5,000 volumes.

Full description of the Sandburg Connemara Collection is incomplete. The "finding aids" and "Connemara Collections" databases web pages may all need to be consulted, depending upon the nature of a researcher's query.

Search the Carl Sandburg "Connemara Collection" finding aids.

Search the Connemara Collections databases.

The "Asheville Transfer" is the most recent addition to the Sandburg collection, obtained in 1996 upon the death of Margaret Sandburg, the eldest daughter of Carl and Paula Sandburg. This collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, clippings, books, documents, and miscellaneous material belonging to Margaret and related to her life as her father's reference librarian. Also included in this collection is the Encyclopedia Sandburgiana, a scrapbook of photographs, clippings and correspondence kept by Margaret about her father's life, arranged chronologically by year.

Full description of the Sandburg Asheville Collection is incomplete. The "finding aids" and "Asheville Collections" databases web pages may all need to be consulted, depending upon the nature of a researcher's query.

Search the Carl Sandburg "Asheville Collection" finding aids.

Search the Asheville Collections databases.

Some Carl Sandburg audio records have been digitized as part of the University of Illinois Broadcast Archives. A four-part recording entitled “All University Forum: An Evening with Carl Sandburg” (April 4, 1950) is accessible on WILL Illinois Public Media’s website: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

SLADE, LEONARD A., JR. (b. 1942)—COLLECTION, 379 items.

Born in 1942, Slade received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1972. Leonard Slade is a distinguished professor of English at Kentucky State University (1965-1988) and State University of New York at Albany (1988-present). In addition to academic activities, which include various administrative responsibilities, he has also published several volumes of poetry and won numerous awards for writing and teaching. The Slade collection includes books, clippings, correspondence, documents, manuscripts, photographs, and some miscellaneous items.

Search the Slade Collection finding aid.


The Spanish Civil War collection is a compilation of material documenting the U.S. literary and military involvement in Spain's fight against fascism. Emphasized are the American writers who participated in and reported the events and who interpreted their experiences through poetry, prose, and art. The collection comprises about 20 subcategories focused on members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, including: Edwin Rolfe, Milton Wolff, John Tisa, Frank Lister, Milton Felson, and John Gates. It includes books, broadsides, clippings, correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, serials, and miscellaneous items relating the experiences of American volunteers in Spain. The collection contains many references to the cultural and political context in which the Americans were placed, including posters and propaganda material. The Rare Book & Manuscript Library's Baskette Collection contains other examples of political activism and freedom of expression issues related to the Spanish Civil War.

Search the Spanish Civil War Collections finding aids.

WELLS, HERBERT G. (1866-1946)—PAPERS, 81.5 cu. ft.

Papers of Herbert G. Wells, English novelist and essayist. Includes correspondence about business and legal affairs; letters to the press; diaries, journals, drawings, publication records, manuscripts and proofs of published works; speeches; unpublished material; photographs. A catalog of correspondence, arranged alphabetically by correspondent, from and to Wells is published in Volume 11 of the Catalog of the Rare Book Room, University Library, University of Illinois (G. K. Hall & Co., Boston, 1972, 547 pp.) and in a supplement 1978 edition. The main collection was acquired in two parts, labelled WELLS-1 and WELLS-2. WELLS-1 consists of over 2,500 letters from Wells and 65,000 to Wells. WELLS-2, a major collection added in 1990, supplements the extensive book collection from Wells' personal library, personal and business correspondence, and criticism. Wells-3 is the Kennard Collection which includes correspondence between H.G. Wells and Annajane Kennard and Amber Reeves. Wells-9 is a collection of supplementary items purchased separately, on an ongoing basis. WELLS-2, 3, and 9 are accessed using an in-house database finding aid with access points including names, dates, language, etc.

The University of Illinois Digital Manuscript Collection includes digitized manuscripts of the H. G. Wells novels The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, and The Island of Dr. Moreau. Click "browse records" to view these and other digitized manuscripts.

Search the H.G. Wells Correspondence databases.