Special Collections. Corp of Cadets from Imagebase image number t15-006

Collection Highlights

This repository of primary and secondary resources contains a wealth of materials documenting 19th- and 20th-century American history and culture. The staff of Special Collections and University Libraries welcomes researchers from around the world and encourages undergraduates as well as graduate students, faculty, and others in our university and local community to use these resources. Comments on the department's electronic publications are always welcome; please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about these holdings. We look forward to seeing you in Special Collections or serving your information needs via the Internet.

Gordon and Henry soldier and child

Top: "Gordon and Henry" from John Janney Papers, Ms2001-019. Bottom: Soldier and child"

American Civil War


The American Civil War collections are among the department's most important materials. Over 300 manuscript collections include letters and diaries from both Union and Confederate soldiers, homefront letters, memoirs, and contemporary research files. The backbone of the printed collection is the Elden E. "Josh" Billings Collection which consists of approximately 6,000 monographs. Since 1996, the book collection has been enhanced with acquisitions made possible through a generous grant from the George R. Wallace Foundation.

Online from the Civil War collections

Sky Bridge, Kentucky Woman Preparing Grit Bread, Palmer Collection

Top:"Sky Bridge, Kentucky" Bottom image: "Woman Preparing Grit Bread, Earl Palmer Collection

Appalachian Collection


The southern Appalachian region is the focus of this rich archive that covers ten states and includes personal and family papers, business records, photographs, oral history tapes and transcripts, and rare books and local publications.

The Appalachian Collection includes such business collections as the early archival records of the Norfolk and Western Railway and the Southern Railway systems (comprising the records of over one hundred railroads, coal companies, and other businesses in the Southern Appalachian region); religious collections such as the archives of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia; family papers from the Preston and J. Hoge Tyler families; and oral histories such as the Patrick County [Virginia] Project and Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife.

Online from the Appalachian Collection Other online resources include Virginia Tech's Electronic Theses and Dissertations.

Letter to Michael Collins with fabric from Wright Bros. Plane

"Letter to Michael Collins with fabric from Wright Bros. Plane"

Archive of American Aerospace Exploration


The AAAE locates, preserves, and makes available to researchers the correspondence, notes, photographs, written or recorded reminiscences, memorabilia, oral histories, as well as any other original materials that document American aeronautical and space history. Formed in 1986 around the papers of Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., former director of the Johnson Spaceflight Center, the Archive of American Aerospace Exploration includes the papers of NASA administrators and project directors, astronauts, test pilots, journalists, engineers, scientists, inventors, and others active in aerospace business and industry from the 1930s to the present.

Personal papers include those of:
  • Robert R. Gilruth
  • F. Edward McLean
  • Thornton L. Page
  • Otis J. Parker
  • W. Dale Parker
  • James R. Randolph
  • John W. Townsend, Jr
  • Marjorie Rhodes Townsend
Notable collections include Samuel Herrick's, founder of the field of astrodynamics, and Michael Collins', astronaut on the Gemini X and Apollo XI flights.
Online from the Archive of American Aerospace Exploration

cover of Digs & Beadles garden seed catalog

Diggs & Beadles seed catalog cover

Botany and Horticulture

Twenty-Eight Annual Catalog (seed catalog transcription)

Manuale de' Giardinieri

Agostino Mandirola. Vicenza, 1660.

The first complete edition of this early flora and garden manual is filled with advice on laying out and planting the garden; medical uses of blooms, fruits, and roots; and it demonstrates the close link between the botanic and private pleasure garden in mid-17th-century Italy. (local transcription of the Italian)

Bev Willis' San Francisco Opera Han Schroder

Top: "Bev Willis' San Francisco Opera" Bottom: Architect "Han Schroder"

International Archive of Women in Architecture


The IAWA was founded in 1985 to collect, preserve, and make available to researchers the history of women's involvement in architecture. There are over 175 collections including the professional papers of women architects, landscape architects, designers, architectural historians and critics, and urban planners, and the records of women's architectural organizations.

Online from the IAWA

N&W 315 Railroad Diesel Engine road switcher - ALCO RS-11 series N&W 204 Railroad Diesel Engine road switcher with dynamic brakes

Top:"N&W 315 Diesel road switcher - ALCO RS-11 series" Bottom: "N&W 204 Diesel road switcher with dynamic brakes, EMD-GP series"

Railroad History


The records of the Norfolk & Western and Southern railways, their subsidiaries and predecessors have been returned to Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS), which is consolidating its historical materials into a corporate archive in Atlanta.

Virginia Tech's Special Collections will continue to be a source of railroad history through the more-than-200 cu. ft. of business records and drawings, photographs, personal papers and publications relating to various regional railroads from the 1840s to the 1980s acquired through other donations and purchases. More than 12,000 scanned images from NS and other sources will continue to be available through the VT ImageBase, one of our most popular online resources.

Online from the Railroad Collections

cover art from Thrilling Wonder Stories magazine cover art from Thrilling Wonder Stories magazine

Cover art from "Thrilling Wonder Stories" magazines

Speculative Fiction


The William J. Heron Speculative Fiction Collection contains approximately 16,000 American, British, and Australian books and magazines from the 1920s to the1980s relating to science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Among the works included are those exploring utopias and dstopias; adventures involving technological gadgetry, lost worlds, undiscovered lands, and heroes such as Doc Savage and Tarzan; ghost stories and fairy tales; and futuristic spy and espionage thrillers.

The VT Speculative Fiction Project makes available to the Internet public domain materials relating to the study of the fantastic in literature and art. Volunteers work through faculty sponsors in the English Department to preserve the original publications, improve scholarly access, and enhancing this resource for student researchers.

Online from the Speculative Fiction collections

Portait of Dora Greenlaw Peacock

Portait of Dora Greenlaw Peacock

History of Food and Drink


Out of the inital donation in fall 1999 that resulted in the establishment of the Peacock-Harper Culinary Collection, came the first few of many more donations destined to become the part of Special Collections. The Culinary History Collection brings to the public nearly two centuries of historical information about the domestic sciences, including customs, eating behaviors, food choices and habits, social and economic history, and scientific and technological progress.

Digital Materials relating to the History of Food and Drink
Culinary Research at Virginia Tech

Descriptions of food and drink related manuscript collections are available online.

Several theses and dissertations have focused on culinary topics:

Miles, Saranette Denise. A Fighter To The End: The Remarkable Life and Career Of Laura Jane Harper. Master of Arts

McSorley, Charles P. Forming A Culinary Architecture, Master of Architecture, 2003 (Chair, Prof. Paul Emmons)

Parrett, Matthew Barton. The Give and Take on Restaurant Tipping, PhD, Economics, 2003 (Chairs, Dr. Catherine Eckel, Dr. Mark Stegeman)

Stauffer, Heather Elizabeth. Grocery Store, Master of Architecture, 1999 (Chair, Prof. Marco Frascari)

University memories

Image: "University Memories"

University Archive


The history and development of the University and its various components are preserved, organized, and accessible through the University Archive. The papers of past University presidents and other administrators constitute the core of the collection. Materials contained in the University Archive include correspondence, diaries, historical photographs, minutes, notes, catalogs, oral histories (tapes and transcripts), press releases, publications of faculty, reports, research documentation, theses and dissertations, University publications, reference files with historical information about the University and biographical information on University personnel, scrapbooks, postcards, textiles, and memorabilia.

Send questions or comments to:

Special Collections,
University Libraries (0434)
Virginia Tech
560 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Virginia Tech Logo - Link to Virgina Tech Homepage
VT Libraries Logo

URL: http://spec .lib.vt.edu/SpecHighlights2.html
Last Modified on: Friday, 13-Jan-2017 08:37:33 EST

by kad