In 1961, the University of Vermont merged two campus collections, the Fleming Museum’s James B. Wilbur Collection of Vermontiana and the Billings Library’s Vermont Room, and housed them in the newly established Special Collections department. Librarians have continued building the collection with historical and contemporary materials to create a major research collection that covers all aspects of Vermont. The collection is used daily by students, faculty, researchers, and community members looking for information on a wide variety of subjects.
Books and Periodicals
A comprehensive collection of books, periodicals and pamphlets support research on Vermont’s past, present and future. Collection strengths include town history, the built environment, natural resources, agriculture, state and municipal publications, business and industry, education, religion, and literature. Books published in Vermont, especially before 1821, and books by Vermont authors are also well represented.
You can search for Vermont books, periodicals and pamphlets in the library catalog. Most of the collection is shelved in open stacks in the reading room, so you can browse the shelves. A small number of older, fragile, and unique items are shelved in our closed stacks, and a Special Collections librarian will gladly retrieve them for you.
The manuscript collection includes personal papers, account books, diaries, scrapbooks and church, school, town, military, court and organizational records dating from the 1770s to the present. The collection is especially strong in the following areas: politics, literature, architecture, social history, religion, education, theater and music, business and labor, transportation, and land surveys.
Finding aids are available online for many UVM manuscript collections. Printed finding aids are available in the Special Collections reading room. Some manuscript collections are housed in Special Collections and can be used any time that we are open. However, many larger manuscript collections are stored off-site. Please contact us at least 48 hours in advance so that we have sufficient time to retrieve material for you.
Digital manuscript collections include:
Thousands of photographs, postcards, stereographs, and prints document Vermont’s people, places and events. The Burlington image collection is especially rich. A number of Vermont photographers are represented, including A. F. Styles, William H. Jackson, George Houghton, L. L. McAllister, James Detore, Fred Hill, Mack Derrick, Herbert Congdon, B. Barker Benton, and Clara Sipprell.
Many of the Vermont photographs are inventoried or described in finding aids available online. A descriptive guide to photograph collections is available at the Special Collections reference desk.
Digital photograph collections include:
The Vermont map collection includes printed maps and atlases as well as manuscript maps. The vast majority of maps focus on Vermont, but the collection also covers the northeastern United States, New England, and Lake Champlain. The maps date from the late 17th century to the present. Fire insurance maps document the built environment of many Vermont villages and cities. Maps are also available in Vermont land surveyors records and the records of the Central Vermont Railroad in the manuscript collection.
You can search the library catalog to find many of the Vermont maps and atlases. Special Collections librarians can help you locate maps that are not yet represented in the library catalog. You can view some fire insurance maps and 19th-century maps of Burlington and Winooski online.
Special Collections maintains extensive reference files containing news clippings, brochures, and other ephemera on a wide range of subjects and issues. Topics are listed in Burlington and Vermont reference file inventories.
Broadsides, Posters, Ephemera
The Vermont research collection includes thousands of pieces of printed ephemera that provide insights into the everyday life of Vermonters, including broadsides, posters, proclamations, announcements, invitations, dance cards, menus, advertisements, trade cards, calling cards, campaign literature, business letterhead, timetables, programs, and other printed matter. Items date from the late 18th century to the present.
Most of the broadsides are cataloged individually, and you can search for them in the library catalog. Special Collections librarians can help you find other types of ephemera that are arranged by location, subject, or format. Selected Civil War broadsides and ephemera are available online.
Our extensive digital Vermont collection includes maps, photographs, personal letters, Congressional correspondence and speeches, broadsides, music, film, newspapers, and UVM publications. Selected Vermont newspapers are available through Chronicling America and America's Historical Newspapers.