The selected topics in this section have been created as they have come up for this and other university history related courses. The topics listed are covered broadly and you will be able to locate additional resources by searching on your own or with assistance from Special Collections and University Archives. Resources may appear on more than one page, as topics can often overlap. You can browse/search a list of more than 270 collections which relate to university archives and more than 150 related to university history.
Please note: This guide includes suggested, representative readings and collections reflecting some of the materials in Special Collections and University Archives -- we have extensive materials regarding the history of Virginia Tech, though the early records of the university were destroyed in a fire in 1905.
Locating books in Special Collections and University Archives that relate to specific topics, such as the history of higher education, depends on a few factors and may take multiple searches. We recommend using the library's catalog rather than the single-search box on the library's main website.
Limit your search to Special Collections and University Archives
You can do this by going to "Advanced Search," selecting "Item Type," and checking the boxes for "SPEC material rstor" and "Spec in-house." This will limit the results to materials that are part of our collections housed in our off-site facility and in the department, respectively.
Searching the catalog without limiting it to Special Collections and University Archives will find materials in all of the university libraries (Newman Library, Art & Architecture Library, Veterinary Medicine Library, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute Library, Northern Virginia Center Library, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Library, Special Collections and University Archives, and the Library Service Centers which house off-site materials).
eBooks and Databases
Searching the catalog will NOT find eBooks and databases. To find these materials, use main search box on the library's homepage.
Picking search terms and keywords
Catalog records, by nature, contain a mix of subjective and objective elements. Subject headings are authoritative and controlled but are applied to a record by an individual who may interpret an item in a specific way. You may need to try different search terms and keywords to locate items. If you have trouble generating search terms, try some of the tools listed in Additional Guides & Search Tools.
Flood at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, July 1943. Historical Photograph Collection, Campus Views 1940-49. (Photographs.001)
Special Collections and University Archives is currently open Monday-Friday from 8am to 5pm.
Appointments are not required, but strongly encouraged (**see below)
Appointments can be made by visiting the SCUA Seat Reservation page (instructions are included on this page)
**By making an appointment, you will help us limit the number of researchers using our Reading Room at any one time for health and safety; guarantee you a seat at the requested time; and help us plan for your visit, for example, making sure the materials needed are on site and available.
Virginia Tech acknowledges that we live and work on the Tutelo / Monacan People’s homeland and we recognize their continued relationships with their lands and waterways. We further acknowledge that legislation and practices like the Morrill Act (1862) enabled the commonwealth of Virginia to finance and found Virginia Tech through the forced removal of Native Nations from their lands, both locally and in western territories.
We understand that honoring Native Peoples without explicit material commitments falls short of our institutional responsibilities. Through sustained, transparent, and meaningful engagement with the Tutelo / Monacan Peoples, and other Native Nations, we commit to changing the trajectory of Virginia Tech's history by increasing Indigenous student, staff, and faculty recruitment and retention, diversifying course offerings, and meeting the growing needs of all Virginia tribes and supporting their sovereignty.
We must also recognize that enslaved Black people generated revenue and resources used to establish Virginia Tech and were prohibited from attending until 1953. Through InclusiveVT, the institutional and individual commitment to Ut Prosim (that I may serve) in the spirit of community, diversity, and excellence, we commit to advancing a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.
This guide was adapted with permission from a course LibGuide originally created by Kira Dietz.