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Special Collections: Literary History

Literary History Collecting Scope

The Eberly Family Special Collections Library's holdings encompass a wide range of literary and historical materials that document the history of printing, literary genres, illustration, and art and architecture. These primary sources are found in many formats, including books, photographs, maps, and graphic items such as prints, drawings, and posters. Collections of authors' manuscripts, diaries, and correspondence shed light on printed editions of their work and also reveal much about the writing process. 

a manuscript with writing across the top of four panels, with drawings below of people and plants in mostly red, green and yellow
"Metamorphosis," A four-panel manuscript in color ink wash, circa 1800.

Searching for Materials in Special Collections

Materials within Special Collections can be located two ways: through the Catalog for individual items or books, and the Finding Aids for archival collections. Researchers will need an Aeon account to request materials that they wish to view, either in the Reading Room or through remote services.

For remote services, please request your materials through Aeon and reach out to us at or call 814-865-1793 to discuss your request with the Research Services team. We are happy to provide limited remote service for researchers if an in-person visit is not possible!


Requesting cataloged materials:

  • Click on "Advanced Search" on the top ribbon and fill out your search terms
  • Choose "Special Collections Library" from the Library drop-down
  • To further refine your results, consider using "Format" to narrow results to musical scores, books, audio, or archives/manuscripts
  • The "Location" drop-down can be used to narrow your topic search to specific book collections within the Special Collections Library (such as "Rare Books and Manuscripts, Black History and Literature")
  • Once you find the item you want, click on the title and locate the "request material" link next to the item's location. Follow through with your request until you see the item in your Aeon account's awaiting processing queue.

Requesting archival materials:

  • Use the keyword search bar on our home page to locate finding aids containing your subject or keywords
  • The Vertical File portal will direct you to subject (topical) finding aids related to Penn State, which include Photograph, Biographical, and General (documents)
  • To request archival materials, click on the file title you would like to see, then click the "request this" box. Once you have selected all the files you'd like to see from that finding aid, click on "My Requests" and follow through with your request until you see the item in your Aeon account's awaiting processing queue.