Manuscript and Book Collections
James Branch Cabell Library's Special Collections and Archives department holds over 20,000 volumes and over 300 manuscript collections, as well maps, broadsides, photographs, prints and drawings. Special manuscript subject areas include the history of Richmond, African Americans and women activists in Virginia. The department also houses the official records and archives of VCU and its predecessor institutions. If you have any questions or comments please email Special Collections and Archives.
Special Collections and Archives
Manuscript CollectionsBook and Periodical Collections
Architectural Resources in Special Collections and Archives -- Some of the most architecturally significant buildings of 19th and 20th century Richmond, Virginia are located on, or adjacent to, the campuses of Virginia Commonwealth University. Richmond's architectural history is a growing area of collection for Special Collections and Archives. A major focus of this collection is documenting the architecture of what is known today as the Fan District, which includes VCU's Monroe Park Campus.
Comic Arts -- Special Collections and Archives houses materials related to the comic arts including comic books, newspaper comic strips, manuscripts collections, and a large collection of reference books and periodicals.
Richmond Area Development Archives -- Established in 1987, the Richmond Area Development Archives (RADA) is a unique collection of primary source materials documenting the post-World War II growth of the Richmond metropolitan area. Subjects include urban planning, suburbanization, attempts to revitalize downtown, housing, transportation, communication, politics, labor, education and the cultural life of the region.
The Virginia Black History Archives project is intended to help document the history of African American organizations and individuals in Virginia. Collections include published and unpublished materials -- many of which are stored digitally along with others that are housed in Special Collections and Archives. This resource also contains links to sites that cover the spectrum of African American life and history.
Virginia Literary Collections -- The Virginia Literary Collection includes published and unpublished manuscripts, printed materials, and other materials by or about Virginia authors and literary scholars including James Branch Cabell (1879-1958), Dennis Danvers (1947-), Cathryn Hankla (1958-), M. Thomas Inge (1936-), Edgar MacDonald (1919-), and Tom Robbins (1936-). The collection also includes the archives of organizations such as the Virginia Writers Club and the New Virginia Review.
The Women Activists of Virginia Collection includes the manuscripts of organizations and individuals significant to the history of women's rights in Richmond and Virginia. The papers of suffragist Adele Clark, and the archives of the Richmond YWCA and the Virginia League of Women Voters are among these collections.
Virginia Heritage Project: Guides to Manuscript and Archival Collections in Virginia. Access the growing union database of EAD (Encoded Archival Description) tagged finding aids (or guides) to archival collections in Virginia. Currently, over 100 of Special Collections and Archives' manuscript collections are part of this database. Click HERE to access those collections.
Book Art Collection -- Includes over 3,000 items and encompasses all aspects of contemporary book art publications ranging from photo-narratives to three-dimensional book works.University Archives
The papers of one of the founders of the collection, Richmond artist Davi Det Hompson (1939-1996), are housed in the department. His collection includes a large amount of correspondence with many notable artists and poets from 1969 through 1988. An exhibit highlighting the Mail Art in the Hompson collection, To and From: Davi Det Hompson Correspondents is available online.
Comic Book Collection -- The collection has over 20,000 comic books dating primarily from the 1960s through today.
Inge Collection of Comic Art Reference Journals -- Beginning in the 1980s, Dr. M. Thomas Inge, an expert on popular culture and the history of the comic arts, began donating reference journals to Special Collections and Archives. The collection, dating primarily from the 1970s through today, has over 800 titles related to various topics connected to the comic arts and popular culture.
Other large book collections that make up Special Collections and Archives include: the Samuel Johnson-James Boswell Collection; the personal library (3,000 items) of James Branch Cabell; books and periodicals on Richmond and Virginia history and culture; Richmond imprints; fantasy and science fiction novels; and a number of smaller collections ranging from books by Edward Gorey and Aleister Crowley to Flip and Pop-Up books.
The library's Secured Area Materials Collection is also housed in Special Collections and Archives. This collection contains primarily art and photography titles and complete runs of LIFE magazine, Playboy, and several other journals. Thesis and dissertations are also housed in the department as well as a number of Richmond periodicals including Style Magazine, the Richmond Free Press, The Richmond Mercury, The Richmond Music Journal, Richmond Magazine, and many other smaller and alternative Richmond publications.
The University Archives collection housed in Special Collections and Archives contains the official records of VCU's Monroe Park Campus programs, including the records of the University's Board of Visitors and the Office of the President. Special Collections and Archives also houses a large collection of University publications. Records and publications of Richmond Professional Institute are also housed in the department. For materials related to medical history and records of the Medical College of Virginia Campus of VCU, visit the Special Collections and Archives department at the Tompkins-McCaw Library.
Help us document VCU's history by putting Special Collections and Archives, VCU Box 842033, on your University office or departmental mailing list. For information on what to do with the records of your University office or department, visit the Records Management information site maintained by the Office for Information Technology or email Special Collections and Archives. Another site worth noting is the Administrative Toolkit maintained by the VCU's Controller's Office which contains financial and administrative policies, activities, training and forms.