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 committed to utilizing its collections in support of the teaching and learning mission of the College. Faculty who use Special Collections materials in their courses come from a wide range of departments and disciplines. Before a visit, the Special Collections staff works with faculty to choose relevant materials and develop a plan for the class visit. Although the visits vary, all include the opportunity for students to interact with the materials physically and intellectually. Class visits may also result in individual student projects or the creation of a class exhibit curated by students in the class and using materials from Special Collections.
If faculty are interested in scheduling a class visit to Special Collections or in knowing what Special Collections might have that would complement their course work, please contact Tom Camden, Head of Special Collections.
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.
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.
Department of Special Collections and Archives
James G. Leyburn Library
Washington and Lee University
204 W. Washington Street
Lexington, VA 24450