Find Manuscripts and Archives

The Special Collections and University Archives Department of the ISU Library holds numerous primary source collections on various topics and in many formats such as paper documents, photographs, audio-visual materials, electronic documents, and artifacts. Included are personal papers of individuals, records of various organizations and businesses, and the University Archives.

Manuscripts and archives can be located using Quick Search. Enter your search terms, then use "Refine my results" in the left sidebar to narrow your results by topic, creator, collection, date, or resource type. Narrowing the collection to "PARKS Special Collections" will typically highlight special collections.

Additional help is available from staff in the Special Collections and University Archives Department, who can answer your research questions, provide finding aids, and assist in the use of resources. The department also provides subject access to its collections through a series of subject guides.

Special Collections: Specific types of materials

The Special Collections Department maintains several collections. The links to the following collections provide further access to manuscripts and archives in the Department.

  • The Archives of Women in Science and Engineering collects the personal and professional papers of women in all areas of science and engineering, except the medical sciences.
  • The Manuscript Collections include papers and records of individuals and organizations primarily in the fields of life sciences, agricultural and rural life, and engineering.
  • TheUniversity Archives consists of departmental and administrative records, university publications, papers of faculty and alumni, materials documenting student life, and University related photographs and films.
  • The Artifact Collection contains a variety of three-dimensional items that document the history of Iowa State University, agriculture, science, and technology. The collection currently includes some 3,000 items dating from 1849 to the present.
  • The Audiovisual Collection consists of approximately 10,000 titles, mostly produced by Iowa State University and focusing on technology, agriculture, science, the university, and the state of Iowa.
  • The Photograph Collection includes over 1,000,000 photographs, primarily documenting Iowa State University and the activities of ISU faculty, staff, students, and alumni.
  • The Web Archives provides access (via Archive-It) to millions of archived pages from Iowa State University and other select websites.

Need more help?

Visit the Special Collections and University Archives Department Reading Room (403 Parks Library) during open hours, or contact staff by e-mail ( or phone (515 294-6672).