The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the principal repository for early manuscripts and rare books and for literary manuscripts in the broad fields of literature, history, art, theology, technology, and the natural sciences.
Established in 1936 from Professor Harris Fletcher’s John Milton collection and Professor Thomas Baldwin’s Shakespeare collection, The Rare Book & Manuscript Library has grown to over 300,000 books and over 7,130 linear feet of manuscripts. Particular strengths lie in early printing and the Elizabethan and Stuart periods in England, with works by Shakespeare, various important editions of the Bible, and renaissance school books standing out as distinctive and deep collections.
The Library is renowned for its outstanding collections of incunabula and emblem books. Also noteworthy are the collections in the history of science and technology, Mark Twain and his age, the history of economics, and natural history. Also housed here are papers of such notable figures as Benjamin Disraeli, Anthony Trollope, William Allingham, Marcel Proust, John Richardson, Carl Sandburg, H.G. Wells, William Maxwell, Shana Alexander, and W.S. Merwin.
The Rare Book and Manuscript Library is open to anyone wishing to use the collection.