Special Collections: Rare and Unique Materials

UNT Special Collections holds an extensive collection of rare books, including miniature books, artists’ books, Victorian literature, war poetry, early printed books, facsimiles of rare manuscripts and codices, and much more. Additionally, Special Collections maintains collections of visual art, especially that related to north Texas, and photography collections, artistic and documentary in nature. Collections of unique materials also include items related to the history of photography, maquettes for pop-up books, board games, dolls, and much more.

Artists' Book Collection

An artist’s book is a medium in which to convey artistic expression using the form and function of a book as the point of inspiration. The book is produced as a work of art in itself. Artists’ books are often created to be portable and interactive, and many call into question the formal role of a book and act more as sculptural objects. Artist's books can defy description and categorization. Often, artists' books are unique items or of limited editions. A good artists' book will truly be more than words on a page, and pages within covers.

Bindings Collections

The Special Collections department has been collecting fine or important historic bindings since the early 1980s. The goals in collecting these materials have been to allow students, researchers, and visitors to see how bindings have changed throughout history by showing historic examples, and to the artistic possibilities of bindings – both in terms of methods and decoration. To this end, Special Collections has tried to acquire the best examples of bindings possible.

Donald Thomas War Poetry Collection

The Donald Thomas War Poetry Collection was acquired in 2015, and consists of over 1,000 volumes collected over 40 years. The Collection focuses on English and American poetry spanning the period from the American Civil War to the Iraq War. The majority of the Collection is focused on World War I and contains many important names and titles from the time period. The greatest strength of this collection, though, is the number of works by lesser known war poets whose works have become difficult if not impossible to find today.

Frankenstein Collection

The materials in this collection include 18th and 19th century books on science and technology which likely inspired Frankenstein, rare early editions of Frankenstein, and a variety of modern materials which document the impact of Frankenstein in popular culture.

History of the Book

UNT Special Collections holds many rare artifacts, specimens, books, and manuscripts which enable students and faculty to trace the evolution of the book across human history. With roots in social, cultural and materials studies, book history plays an important role in a variety of disciplines.

Miniature Book Collection

Miniature books are defined as those books under 4” (3” in some places) in any dimension. Books in small sizes have been produced since antiquity, and continue to be produced to this day. They are all “real” books with pages, printing, illustrations, etc. –just very small.

Oral History Collection

Oral histories fill in the gaps in the written record by preserving the memories of individuals who have been eye-witnesses to, or participants in, historic events. The UNT collection consists of nearly 2,000 bound volumes of interviews. The transcripts were generated by the UNT Oral History Program in the UNT History Department and the UNT College of Business Administration.

Photography and Visual Materials Collections

Visual representation forms an important part of many academic disciplines including art, anthropology, history, and cultural studies. The Photography and Visual Materials Collection documents the history of photography and visual representation through the works of both traditional and vernacular artists. The Collection includes fine art photography, studio and commercial work, specimens of early photography, and other types of visual art such as paintings, posters, illustrations, sculpture, and folk art.

Vann Collection of Victorian Literature

Special Collections has important holdings in Victorian literature, 19th century British fiction, poetry and relevant periodicals. Much of the Vann Collection of Victorian Literature was donated by UNT Emeritus Professor J. Don Vann and his wife, Dolores. Highlights of the Collection include a first edition of A Christmas Carol, the periodical All the Year Round which contains the first serialization of A Tale of Two Cities, and other serialized first editions including Our Mutual Friend, Bleak House, and David Copperfield.

Gustine Courson Weaver Collection

The Weaver Collection, originally donated in the 1930’s, is an extensive collection of materials documenting the life of Ms. Weaver and her decades long interest in children’s education, juvenile literature and Texas History. The collection includes dolls, manuscripts, pop-up books, miniature books, journals, newspaper clippings, and “Heidi” materials, among other things, including some artifacts.

Pat Warde Memorial Collection of Southern Letters

Pat Warde was an integral part of the intellectual and political life of UNT and the entire Denton community. Warde’s husband Bill established the Pat Warde Memorial Collection of Southern Letters for the UNT Libraries in 1992, in memory of his wife’s love of literature and her dedication to the highest ideals incorporated in the great literature of the South.