Children’s Literature Collection

Special Collections Library
Hatcher Graduate Library
913 S. University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
(734) 764-9377 (p)

A collection of primarily American and British children’s literature and related archival materials from the late 18th century to the present

The stories that a society tells its children reveal a great deal about what the culture values, and about its conception of childhood — and adulthood, for that matter. Moreover, many works of children’s literature are also important as works of art and design, and well as reflections of historical trends and the impacts of new technologies.

As noted by emeritus curator William Gosling, who led the U-M Library from 1997 to 2005, "the collection complements a variety of disciplines and supports research and coursework in literature, information science, and art and design — among others.” 

Areas of strength in the U-M Special Collections Library’s Children’s Literature Collection include: 


The U-M Library also has a large circulating collection of children’s literature, which is housed at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library.

Page maintained by Juli McLoone
Last modified: 05/10/2016

History of Medicine

Special Collections Library
Hatcher Graduate Library
913 S. University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
(734) 764-9377 (p)
A collection of medical works and artifacts from late antiquity through the 20th century
For scholars and students alike, there is no replacement for the ability to study rare and historic medical texts and artifacts directly.
The U-M Library’s History of Medicine Collection traces the evolution of medical knowledge and beliefs from the Greek fathers of medicine, through the the medieval and Renaissance periods, to the modern era. 
The collection is not only a valuable resource for identifying changes in the understanding of the human body, but also includes rare examples of early printing techniques and binding methods, along with exquisite artwork and illustrations, and texts that shed light on shifting cultural conceptions of health and healthy living. As a result, these holdings attract attention from a wide variety of academic disciplines.
“The collection has been used by those studying not just medicine per se, but those interested in books as artifacts, the history of art, even architecture — in antiquity, and again in the Renaissance, a perfect figure of the human body became the main source of proportion for the classical orders of architecture,” says curator Pablo Alvarez. “The collection also reveals aspects of social history and can help us understand how ideas about medicine were disseminated, and the impact that increasingly accessible medical knowledge and images of the human body had on culture.”
Spanning some 8,500 works, the collection is noteworthy for:
  • incunabula — books printed before 1501
  • early editions of medical classics and anatomy texts
  • one of the most complete collections on the history and development of homeopathy, much of which has been digitized
  • medical “fugitive sheets” — the Renaissance version of a pop-up book that allowed for the study of different layers of the body
  • a collection of magical amulets dating from 100-500 C.E.
  • Among the notable works is, for example, Andreas Vesalius’s first edition of De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem, published in 1543. Vesalius, who is considered the father of modern anatomy, made sure that his exhaustive knowledge of anatomy was presented in a luxurious book format. Indeed, profusely illustrated with detailed woodcuts by Jan Stephan van Calcar, an artist of Titian’s school, this work represents the shift toward the study of anatomy by means of the dissection and direct observation of the human body.
Recently, Alvarez introduced undergraduate students enrolled in an art history course to some of the collection materials. Together they explored connections between art and medicine on display in anatomical treatises from the 15th and 16th centuries.
“This is one of our most interdisciplinary collections,” says Alvarez. “And as the collection continues to grow, we will be reinforcing and encouraging links with other areas of study.”
Page maintained by Pablo Alvarez
Last modified: 12/01/2014

History of Astronomy

Special Collections Library
Hatcher Graduate Library
913 S. University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
(734) 764-9377 (p)

A collection of materials on astronomy dating from the second century through the 'golden age' of celestial cartography

If you simply want to read a historical astronomy text, you may be able to find it online, digitized and translated into English. But to fully experience the physical splendor of the documents, you’ll need to make a visit to the library.

Peggy Daub, curator of the history of astronomy collection, says, “We are one of the few institutions in the world to have all the important early works in astronomy covered, including hundreds of pre-1800 publications.”

The Galileo Manuscript, written 1609-1610, is among the great treasures of the University of Michigan Library. One of the top ten items requested from Special Collections, it is also the most frequently reprinted, appearing in textbooks and on the web, including on the NASA website. The document, written in his own hand, describes and illustrates Galileo’s discovery of the four moons of Jupiter.

Daub says, “The Galileo manuscript is a rare and valuable holding and it gets students excited about the subject. I’m often invited to speak to beginning astronomy students, and the manuscript is part of the talk. Physics classes use it, too, and when Michigan Math and Science Scholars visit, it’s part of our show-and-tell.”

While the greatest strength of the history of astronomy collection is the depth and breadth of its material, the Galileo manuscript is one among its many sparkling gems.

The library owns all of the “big four” star atlases that came out of Europe’s golden age of celestial cartography: the Atlas Coelestis of John Flamsteed, the Uranometria of Johann Bayer (1603), the Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia of Johannes Hevelius (1690) and the Uranographia of Johann Elert Bode (1801) — two of which were fairly recent aquisitions made possible with the support of library endowments.

To look back even further, you can examine an Egyptian papyrus containing an astrological treatise, written in Greek around the second century C.E., that predicts the movement of Mars.

Daub points out that the astronomy collection has significant overlap with the History of Mathematics collection. For example, the library owns a rare first edition by Copernicus (1543) that puts forth his theory that the earth moves around the sun, a theory he supported with mathematics since it couldn’t be proven by observation.

The mathematics collection also includes more than 100 editions of The Elements of Euclid, spanning five centuries and many languages. An edition by Oliver Byrne published in 1847 is one of the first examples of the use of color to elucidate mathematical concepts.

Page maintained by Pablo Alvarez
Last modified: 06/27/2014

Papyrology Collection

Hatcher Graduate Library, Room 807
913 S. University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
(734) 764-9369 (p)

Hours listed are for the reference collection only.  If you wish to view papyrus, please check the exhibit page or schedule a class tour.  Please note that since we have limited staffing and limited space, it is best to e-mail or call ahead in case of unexpected schedule conflicts. Thank you.

A world-renowned collection of ancient texts and documents dating from about 1,000 BCE to 1,000 CE

The University of Michigan Library is home to the largest collection of ancient papyri in North America. The documents in the Papyrology Collection, which span roughly 2,000 years, contain not only important religious texts — including 60 pages of the oldest known copy of the Epistles of Paul — but also personal letters, school primers, sales contracts and other records that paint a unique portrait of everyday life. Of the 18,000 pieces in the collection, about 5,000 have never been studied and translated, and continue to attract scholars from across the country and around the world.

The collection also continues to draw hundreds of visitors each year, including K-12 students, undergraduate and graduate students, and religious groups interested in the early artifacts of their faith.

“Reading Plato is great, but here you can see and touch pieces of the ancient world,” says collection manager Monica Tsuneishi. Along with texts written on papyrus, the collection also includes documents written on wood and wax tablets.

The roots of the collection go back almost a century to Francis Willey Kelsey, a professor of Latin at U-M, who believed students would benefit from studying historical objects directly. Kelsey traveled through Europe and Middle East purchasing items for the university and later organized excavations in Egypt and elsewhere.

Unlike most antiquarians of his day, Kelsey insisted on the recording of the precise locations where artifacts and documents were found inside each building, especially in Karanis — an ancient town in Egypt excavated by U-M between 1924 and 1935. As a result, many items in the U-M collection include additional clues about the context in which they were used.

The collection presents a wealth of possibilities for original research by both students and scholars, says Arthur Verhoogt, acting archivist of the Papyrology Collection and Professor of Papyrology and Greek.

For example, seemingly boring account records may offer new insights on the demographics of the era, lifespan, marriage patterns or the productivity of ancient farmers.

Page maintained by Monica Tsuneishi
Last modified: 12/04/2015

Used Book Sale 2016

brightly colored design books on bookshelves

Book image courtesy of See-ming Lee

The University Library is selling several thousand gently used books, including duplicate or superseded titles and other books not needed for the collection. There's something for everyone at low, low prices.

Event Information

Date & Time
December 12, 2016 - 10:00am to 10:00pm
Hatcher Graduate Library, Gallery (Room 100)
Location Information
Event Type
Open House


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