The Special Collections & Archives Department acquires, preserves, arranges, describes, and makes accessible its rich holdings of secondary and primary materials to support the diverse teaching and research needs of undergraduates, graduates, faculty, staff, and the larger community. These collections document local, regional, and Virginia history. In addition, the Department is responsible for documenting the history of the university, and has a large collection of university and faculty publications, administrative records, photographs, and ephemera.
Special Collections items are non-circulating, and use of fragile or archival materials will be permitted in the Special Collections Reading Room during open hours only.
Special Collections is dedicated to supporting the curricular mission of Washington and Lee University. Special Collections serves Washington and Lee students, faculty and staff. It also serves the local community and the worldwide community of scholars. Its mission is to organize, preserve and promote its collections and to provide access and assistance to all patrons in using the collections. Special Collections serves as a repository for rare books, manuscripts, university archives and university records. It seeks to be the center of Washington and Lee’s institutional memory.
Department of Special Collections and Archives
James G. Leyburn Library
Washington and Lee University
204 W. Washington Street
Lexington, VA 24450
ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT
The Department of Special Collections and Archives is open to the public from 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM Monday through Friday, except for holidays and vacations. Library hours are listed here.
In order to serve you better, we encourage you to make an appointment before your arrival. Please call 540-458-8663 or 540-458-8649. If no one answers, contact the Information Desk at 458-8643.
Location: Leyburn Library, Lower Level 1.
- Reference assistance available during all hours of operation.
- Special Collections materials may not be checked out but are available for examination and research in the Boatwright Reading Room.
- Photocopying in limited quantities available at 15 cents per page; 40 cents for color copies. Document scanning available for $10 per item.
- Personal cameras, scanners, and laptops are allowed to be used in the Reading Room.
- Exhibits are on view during opening hours. We also have a display case in the Level 1 Lobby with rotating exhibits.
- University Archives
Examples of our holdings are: Washington and Lee University publications including the Calyx, Alumni Magazine, Ring-tum Phi, Trident, Shenandoah, Ariel and a large number of other W&L publications past and present; Faculty and Alumni publications; materials relating to W&L's history including Trustee's records; and student honors theses.
Highlights of our holdings include the Robert E. Lee Papers, the Jessie Ball duPont Papers, the George West Diehl genealogical collection, and the Papers of Congressman William Whitehurst. We have numerous collections pertaining to the history of Washington and Lee University. We have the holdings of the Rockbridge Historical Society, a wealth of material on the history of Rockbridge County.
- Rare Books
The collection is especially strong in Virginia state and local history and family genealogical history as well as books about Robert E. Lee, George Washington and other historical figures important to W&L and the local area. Surviving volumes from Liberty Hall Academy and the nineteenth century Franklin Society Library are held. Other volumes important for their age or content, including works by local authors, are held.
Special Collections also holds a large number of maps and photographs historically significant for Washington and Lee and Rockbridge County.
ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS
Many of the holdings in Special Collections are listed in our Library Catalog, but some are not. If you do not find what you are looking for, stop by or call Special Collections for reference assistance.