university of tulsa logo

Special Collections at McFarlin Library

Did you know that above the McFarlin Library at the University of Tulsa holds over 14,000 linear feet of manuscripts, music, photographs, and a numerous amount of other cultural objects? This impressive space is known as Special Collections. It began in the late 1920s with Alice Mary Robertson’s personal library of documents pertaining to native Creek and Cherokee history, along with other items from Oklahoma’s history itself. As time went on, the library continued to acquire other works, such as the James Wolfe Collection, in hopes of creating a museum. Although it never generated, it was slowly revived by collections from John W. Shleppey; once Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation J. B. Milam, and other incredible objects that surrounding Tulsans had in their personal collections.

Over time, Special Collections continued to acquire manuscripts, books and artwork, even creating an exhibit within for onlookers to enjoy while strolling through the Jack H. and Tybie Davis Satin Reading Room. Today, their mission is to “acquire, catalog, and preserve The University’s rare book, manuscript, archival, and artifact collections.” This include works relating to graphic arts, 18th through 21st century American history, Oklahoma Native American tribes, religion, women’s studies, and even writings from James Joyce. Listing their broad array of topics could go on and on, but we encourage you to go look for yourself and experience its astounding works.

To learn more about Special Collections, they have a blog called “From the McFarlin Tower” that showcases different objects and their history, along any new acquisitions. Anyone interested can also look online on their Digital Collections to see objects in a detailed manner, or even go explore it for oneself. But be careful exploring, as you will want to spend hours there! It is a fantastic spot for research or anyone interested in learning more about different types of histories.

Special Collections blog: https://orgs.utulsa.edu/spcol/

One of the Sherlock Holmes novels by Sr Arthur Conan Doyle in Special Collections, picture taken from the “From the McFarlin Tower” blog
First page of a letter book from the Henry C. Merriam papers, 1865-1907, located in Special Collections, picture taken from the “From the McFarlin Tower” blog