EDHE 6064: Higher Education in the United States: Books, Manuscripts, and Maps


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.

Search tips

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.

Getting help

If you are having trouble searching, we encourage you to contact Special Collections and University Archives (specref@vt.edu or 540-231-6308). Our staff will be happy to lend a hand.


Special Collections and University Archives is home to more than 1,900 manuscript collections, many of which are related to Virginia Tech history and operations. Finding aids (collection guides) for processed manuscript collections are available through Virginia Heritage, a state-wide database. The general search page is here: http://ead.lib.virginia.edu/vivaxtf/search. You can select the repository "Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University" to find materials in Virginia Tech's collections. Searching without limiting the repository will do a full-text search of all guides statewide.

We have specifically identified more than 250 guides as part of the University Archives and more than 150 as being about Virginia Tech University History. These guides can be browsed online, or you can limit these results using facets or search within the results for specific words or phrases.

We also have unprocessed collections and collections with limited descriptions. If you are having trouble locating relevant materials, we encourage you to contact Special Collections and University Archives (specref@vt.edu or 540-231-6308). Our staff will be happy to lend a hand.

Digitized materials


Special Collections and University Archives is home to a historical map collection containing approximately 1,000 items. The focus of the collection is on local/regional and campus maps. We are in the process of creating individual, publicly accessible records for all of our maps. In the interim, you can search our guides for maps on ArchivesSpace. Note: the search box will search all of our collections, not just the maps. 

About Special Collections and University Archives


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)

Virtual reference help remains available at specref@vt.edu or by phone at 540-231-6308

**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.

Connect with us

Email: specref@vt.edu
Phone: 540-231-6308
Twitter: @VT_SCUA
Information for Visitors

​Find us online

Our website
Our digital collections
Our blog
Our LibGuides

Land Acknowledgement & Labor Recognition

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.