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This page highlights several of the Washington University Libraries' collections. While most of the collections are represented in the various library catalogs, some are not, and many are shelved in special locations. For additional information on resources in your subject area, or to suggest books and other materials for acquisition, please contact your Subject Librarian.

Contemporary German Literature Collection

The Contemporary German Literature Collection is the research basis of the Max Kade Center for Contemporary German Literature and is the largest collection of its kind in North America. It began in 1984 by Center director, Paul Michael Lützeler, Rosa May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities, and is a cooperative effort of the Germanic Languages and Literatures Department and Olin Library at Washington University. Items in the collection are cataloged and housed within the German contemporary literature section (PT 2660-2728) on Level A of Olin Library. Collection materials are made available to other universities via Interlibrary Loan. About 700-900 books are received annually as gifts from the literary publishers of German-speaking Europe. An annotated bibliography of each year’s acquisitions is available online. For more information, see the Spring 2007 issue of Off the Shelf.

Digital Gateway

The Digital Gateway is maintained by DLS (Digital Library Services). The site hosts projects developed in partnership with DLS and links to all digital projects at Washington University. Collections include Eyes on the Prize, The James Merrill Digital Archive, St Louis Circuit Court Records, and Unreal City.

East Asian Library Special Collections

The East Asian Library houses about 800 volumes of rare and special books, manuscripts and other types of materials in its special collection rooms. The collections include old and rare Chinese printed works (dating back to 1569) and Japanese books (dating back to 1649), as well as materials from later periods in Chinese and Japanese. The majority of the special holdings relates to East Asian literature, art, history and religion. For more information, please visit the East Asian Library’s Special Collections page.

Film & Media Archive

The Film & Media Archive is a nationally recognized center for scholarship, teaching, and learning. The Archive is committed to the preservation of documentary film and other media which chronicles America's great political and social movements with a particular emphasis on the African-American experience


Washington University's Manuscript Collection contains a broad range of materials dating from the 2nd century BC through the present. The largest group of materials is the Modern Literature Collection with over a quarter of a million items in formats ranging from paper to electronic image. Several hundred papyri, manuscript books and fragments, St. Louis literary manuscripts, and several autograph collections round out the holdings.

Modern Graphic History Library

The Modern Graphic History Library at Washington University is comprised of original art and printed material from many fields of popular American pictorial graphic culture. Focusing on 20th century illustration, the collection includes artists' working materials and sketches as well as original artwork from books, magazines, and advertising.

Rare Books

The largest of the University's rare book collections, now numbering over 60,000 printed pieces, is administered within the Department of Special Collections. Additional collections of rare materials are housed in the Kranzberg Art & Architecture, Music, East Asian, School of Medicine, and School of Law libraries.

Suhrkamp/Insel Collection: German language publications in literature, philosophy, and the social sciences

The Suhrkamp/Insel Collection was started in 1983, when Paul Michael Lützeler, the Rosa May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities, approached Siegfried Unseld, Head of the Suhrkamp Verlag (publishing company) in Frankfurt, Germany, about the creation of such a collection at Olin Library. It includes German-language publications in the fields of literature, criticism, philosophy, and the social sciences published by Suhrkamp/Insel or one of its subsidaries. The Suhrkamp/Insel collection is located on Level A of Olin Library. Older volumes are shelved in the general collection. For more information, see the Spring 2007 issue of Off the Shelf. All items in this collection.

Whitney R. Harris Third Reich Collection

The Whitney R. Harris Third Reich Collection is a comprehensive collection on Germany from 1933 to 1945. It began in 1980 with a donation of funds, books, and documents from Whitney R. Harris, who played a key role in prosecuting Nazi war criminals during the Nuremberg trials in 1945-1946. His book Tyranny on Trial is recognized as the first significant study of Nuremberg and its legacy. The collection, which has grown to over 2,700 items in both English and German, includes materials on all aspects of the Third Reich and the Holocaust. Recent acquisitions reside on Level 2 of Olin Library in the Harris Reading Room, named in honor of Whitney and Jane Harris in recognition of their gifts to the University Libraries. Older materials are shelved in the general collection. All items in the collection. | Bibliography of items added 1999-2008 | Older print bibliographies.

University Archives

University Archives is comprised of more than 300 unique collections. Chronicling the history of Washington University from 1853 to today, and containing numerous collections related to St. Louis history and architecture, University Archives is a wealth of primary sources and other historical materials that include manuscripts, photographic prints and negatives, books, film, sound recordings, microfilm, architectural plans, and artifacts.