Guide to the Manuscript Collections
This guide describes the manuscript collections in Special Collections, University Libraries, Virginia Tech. Here are located approximately 5000 cubic feet of manuscript material (the personal papers of individuals and families and the records of businesses and organizations) spanning the years from the fifteenth century to the present, with the greatest concentration of material in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The collections are strongest in the areas of women's history, the history of women in architecture, science and technology, business history (including railroad history), American Civil War history, and the regional history of Southwest Virginia. Notable scientific and technological collections include the papers of Robert E. Marshak, founder of the Rochester Conferences on High-Energy Physics; the papers of Samuel Herrick, founder of the field of astrodynamics; the papers of Christopher Kraft, former director of the Johnson Space Center; and the papers of John Parsons, the father of numerical control, or the application of computer technology to manufacturing. Notable business collections include the archival records of the predecessors of the Southern Railway and of the Norfolk and Western railway systems--collections that document the history of more than 300 railroads in the South and Midwest. Other business collections include a large group of nineteenth- and twentieth-century account books for small Virginia businesses. The Civil War history collection includes letters from soldiers, both Union and Confederate, to their families and friends,recounting their camp and battle experiences. Important Southwest Virginia collections include the papers of J. Hoge Tyler, a Radford, Virginia, native and governor of the state from 1898 to 1902; and the papers of such notable local families as the Prestons, Blacks, Kents, and Appersons.
Special Collections has three specialized archives: the Archives of American Aerospace Exploration (AAAE), the International Archive of Women in Architecture (IAWA), and the Appalachian Collection. The AAAE seeks to document early aeronautical and space history in the United States; the IAWA is concerned with the history of women's involvement in the field of architecture worldwide, especially with the pioneer generation of women architects of the early twentieth century; and the Appalachian Collection focuses on collecting papers and records describing the cultural, religious, social, and economic conditions of southern Appalachia.
The historical records of Virginia Tech, which form the nucleus of the University Archives, are also housed in Special Collections, but are not described in this guide. However, some groups of records in the University Archives that have significant amounts of documentation on persons, places, and events outside of Virginia Tech are listed. For example, the records of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, which deal with farm conditions in the state, are described here, as are the records of the Agricultural Engineering Department dealing with rural electrification and irrigation projects in the state. A separate guide to the University Archives is available.
The entries are arranged in alphabetical order. Each entry contains a biographical or organizational history (when available) and a description of the materials in the collection. The size of each collection is given in cubic feet (abbreviated "cu. ft."), with 0.1 cu. ft. the smallest designation used.
Inventories to many of the collections are available. An "unprocessed" designation means that the collection has not yet been organized by the Special Collections staff, and that an inventory is not available. Patrons may still have access to unprocessed collections, and interest in an unprocessed collection may lead to ranking it higher in terms of processing priorities. Some collections have a "restricted access" notice. Patrons interested in using one of these collections should see the Special Collections reference staff for further information on the nature of the restriction.
Each collection has a manuscript number associated with it. This is a permanent identifying number (for example, Ms95-001) at the end of each entry. Patrons requesting collections should refer to the manuscript number and the collection title.
Special Collections is located on the first floor of Newman Library at Virginia Tech. The Special Collections Reading Room hours are: Monday though Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Staff will also open the Reading Room by appointments with researchers. Those interested in obtaining more information about the collections should contact Special Collections:
P.O. Box 90001
Blacksburg, VA 24062-9001