Distinctive Collections at Villanova University contain a wide variety of materials organized in three broad categories: Special Collections, Digital Library, and University Archives. Each category also includes sub collections organized largely by subject, material type, or specific source of acquisition. Many of these items are rare or unique, and most require special handling procedures and preservation techniques. The significant monetary and artifactual value of these materials necessitates controlled access and specialized housing and environmental controls for physical collections. Ongoing effort to identify and acquire materials that simultaneously relate to under-represented groups and complement the existing collections are an important aspect of developing collections of distinction and work to promote open access, scholarly inquiry, all for the common good.

Special Collections

Special Collections houses approximately 15,000 items acquired through donations and acquisition sources and includes rare books, manuscripts, personal papers, photographs, periodicals, maps, scrapbooks, and ephemera.

Digital Library

Ongoing efforts to create digital surrogates of requested distinctive collections to promote open and active usage and to assist in the preservation of physical objects are an important aspect of developing collections of distinction. Digital collections are also developed in collaboration with individual and organizational partners to promote open access to underrepresented materials and to promote global scholarly and research inquiry, all for the common good.

University Archives

The Villanova University Archives are the official depository for the permanent records of the university. These records are deemed permanent because of their legal, fiscal, administrative, or historical value. The archive was established to collect, preserve, appraise, describe, organize and make accessible all permanent records in their original forms in order to document the historical operations, policies and programs of Villanova University.

Departments/Programs/Subject Areas Supported

All areas are represented in specific materials with notable collection strengths in Irish and Irish-American history and literature, works related to Saint Augustine, Gregor Mendel, popular culture and literature, Theater, and Villanova University history during the World War I era.

Resources Collected

  • Augustiniana: printed editions of the works of Saint Augustine, in a variety of languages, especially the Confessions, and works about Saint Augustine as well as works related to the Order of Saint Augustine and contributions from Augustinian theologians and scholars.
  • Augustinian Historical Institute: manuscripts and rare books on deposit from the Order of Saint Augustine.
  • DiOrio Theater Collection: music and theater programs for plays, musical theatre productions, musical performances, and opera productions in the Philadelphia and New York metropolitan areas; playbills and other theater ephemera.
  • World Collection: European imprints of rare books, including Greek and Latin classics, theological and political debate, Bibles and editions of the Church Fathers; periodicals; ephemera; scientific and engineering works.
  • Hubbard Collection: books printed at the Roycrofter Press, many written by Elbert G. Hubbard; manuscripts and memorabilia relating to the Roycrofter Colony and Elbert G. Hubbard.
  • Incunabula: incunable (books printed between 1450 and 1501), especially incunable editions of works of Saint Augustine.
  • Limited Editions: limited editions of books and broadsides printed by the Cuala Press (formerly the Dun Emer Press); limited editions of Dolmen Press publications are also collected; other limited editions of Irish poetry.
  • Joseph McGarrity Collection: monographs focusing on Irish history, literature, folklore, description and travel, music, and Irish-American history; personal papers, photographs and manuscripts of notable Irish and Irish-American; periodicals and newspapers related to Irish and Irish-American culture. Rare materials in the Irish language are collected as are art work and realia otherwise related to the collection. Materials citing the collection and secondary literature referencing Joseph McGarrity, his family, and his associates are collected.
  • Manuscripts: manuscripts of works by Saint Augustine and other religious figures; Arabic, Latin and Greek manuscripts; Irish Gaelic manuscripts; personal paper collections, photograph albums, scrapbooks.
  • Mendel Collection: early editions of Mendel's paper including earlier works about heredity and the rediscovery of the importance of Mendel's works around 1900.
  • North American Imprints to 1864: rare books and periodicals especially Bibles printed in North American.
  • Catholica: rare books, realia, pamphlets, directories and almanacs; indices of Catholic literature; personal and organizational paper collections and periodicals of Catholic interest and scholarship with a particular focus on the greater Philadelphia region in a variety of languages including French, German, Latin, and Spanish.
  • Villanova Affiliation: personal collections from notable figures associated with Villanova University including faculty, alumnae/i, and community members; Villanova University publications; faculty scholarship; theses and dissertations; material documenting the campus community and culture.
  • Photographic, printing and publishing history: innovative printing and binding techniques, book plates, first editions, autographed and presentation copies, manuscript materials, new communications media, photographic processes, and ephemera including selected menus, comic books, trade cards, programs.
  • Travel, tourism, sports, and entertainment: rare books, pamphlets, scrapbooks, photographic albums, ephemera, and personal documents, with significant focus on exhibitions, circus, vaudeville, fairs, skating.
  • Dime Novels and Popular Literature: pre-Pulp serial publications, "Dime Novels", "Story Papers"; early young adult literature, and mass market literature - containing both fiction and non-fiction texts, including "self-help" and "how-to" titles, and medical cures, and International Dime Novels, ephemera, manuscripts; Rare secondary literature and bibliographies are also collected.
  • The John F. Smith, III and Susan B. Smith Antique Map Collection: rare cartographic materials, plates, and framed illustrations.
  • Great War: rare books, periodicals, pamphlets, photographs, scrapbooks, ephemera, manuscripts, posters, selected realia.
  • Pennsylvaniana: materials published in Pennsylvania dealing with Pennsylvania history, crime, biography of notable Pennsylvanians, Pennsylvania organizations and geography, and personal papers including correspondence and ephemera of Pennsylvanians involved in the development of shorthand, in the American Civil War, and in Philadelphia's Main Line history; Rare newspaper and periodicals published in Pennsylvania.
  • Philadelphia Irish Organizations: manuscripts, photographs, books, ephemera, and audio and video documenting Irish history, music, dance, and culture in Philadelphia and throughout the Greater Delaware Valley.
  • Citing materials: copies of materials citing physical or digital surrogates referencing Villanova University Distinctive Collections materials.
  • University Archives: all records of enduring value created by the Villanova University including those produced by members of the Villanova Community related to University work including: letters and manuscripts, official and informal publications, photographs, minutes, legal, publicity, realia, reports and administrative records, sound and video formats. Records of the University are governed by the Records Retention Schedule.

Resources And Materials Collected Selectively Or By Request

Rare and unique materials are collected to support exhibitions and student and faculty scholarship.

Resources Not Collected

Duplicative or significantly damaged materials.

Collaborations Within The Library

Subject librarians, Technology Development, Communication and Marketing, Academic Integration.

External Collaborations

Villanova University Offices, Departments, Development, Art Gallery, Regional LAM (Library, Archives, Museum)