Special Collections and University Archives has long been involved in illuminating the history of Science and Technology from many perspectives. Our collections in this area focus on the history of engineering with an emphasis on aerospace and railroad history and the contributions of faculty, staff, students, and alumni of Virginia Tech. We house the papers of inventors and pioneers, scientists, researchers, academics, professional organizations, and business and industry leaders. We also have collections related to science fiction, speculative fiction, and ornithology.
Archives of American Aerospace Exploration (AAAE)
Established in 1986, the Archives of American Aerospace Exploration (AAAE) preserves and makes accessible published and unpublished materials that document American aeronautical and space history, as well as related sciences. The collection includes books and articles, letters, notes, photographs, reminiscences, memorabilia, oral histories, patents, and drawings/schematics. Current holdings comprise more than three dozen collections of papers from pilots, astronauts, physicists, chemists, engineers, NACA and NASA administrators and project managers, writers, illustrators, and researchers in industry and academia.
Special Collections and University Archives is home to a significant group of materials on railroad history with an emphasis on Virginia and southern railroads and dating as early as the 1840s. More than 60 manuscript collections relate to railway companies, employees, historians and collectors, and corporations. The collections include business records, drawings, photographs, personal papers, scrapbooks, diaries, ephemera, maps, and publications.
Note: The historic records of Norfolk Southern Corp (formerly Norfolk & Western Railroad and other subsidiaries) were returned to the company in 2008. Researchers interested in those records should contact the company’s archivist, Jennifer McDaid.
William J. Heron Speculative Fiction Collection
Between 1989 and 1994, Special Collections and University Archives acquired a significant collection of science fiction materials from William J. Heron, a private collector from North Carolina. There are more than 150 science fiction reference works, 11,000 paperback novels, and 4,500 issues from over 200 titles of British, Australian, and primarily American pulp magazines, dating from the 1910s through 1980s. These include the first published works of well-known science fiction and fantasy authors.
Bailey-Law Ornithology Collection
The Bailey-Law Collection was donated to Special Collections and University Archives in 1982 by the Virginia Tech Biology Department, who originally obtained it as part of the Bailey Collection of Natural History. The collection consists of papers and monographs from Harold H. Bailey (1878-1962) and John Eugene Law (1877-1931).
The Virginia Museum of Natural History maintains ornithological specimens related to this collection.