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HILD 2A - Survey of Early American History: Using Special Collections

To accompany the section visits to Special Collections, this guide provides the basics for getting started using Special Collections for your papers, and includes a list of the materials shown in class.

Using Special Collections

Special Collections & Archives (SC&A) materials are stored in an environmentally controlled, secured area and all users must register and place requests to see the materials. You will use the materials in our reading room on the main floor of the Geisel Library Building.

Register online to use Special Collections & Archives: Once registered, you can place requests online directly from the catalog and finding aids, or log in to your account to queue requests for a future visit and to view previous requests.

All SC&A materials are cataloged in Roger and finding aids for manuscript collections are available on our website, along with our policies and more information about our collections:

For tips on searching Roger, consult the page "How to Find and Request Special Collections Materials."

  • If the items are located onsite, we will pull on demand when you arrive in Special Collections to use them.
  • If the items are located offsite (it will say so in Roger) delivery times will be up to one week. We'll send an email when they are ready to use.

In addition to registering you will also need to show your photo ID when you visit Special Collections.


Hours:  M-F, 9-5 with extended hours until 7 on Wednesdays

Questions? Email us at

Special Collections Reading Room

About the Collections

Encompassing UC San Diego's Mandeville Special Collections and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Archives, Special Collections & Archives houses a wide range of rare books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, artworks, recordings, and archives. These primary source materials support UCSD's instructional and research programs, and distinguish UCSD's library collections from all other research universities.

Special Collections focuses on building its collections in concert with UCSD’s academic programs to build comprehensive research collections around specific subjects. Areas of exceptional strength include:

  • Early voyages of exploration and discovery to the Pacific prior to 1850
  • Scientific endeavors in marine sciences, post-1850
  • Spanish Civil War - the largest extant collection on the subject
  • Post-1945 American poetry in the "alternative" tradition, including extensive collections of poets' manuscripts and correspondence
  • History of San Diego, southern California, and Baja California
  • Contemporary science and public policy, including the personal archives of some of the nation's most renowned scientists
  • Culinary history of Mexico, Latin America, and the Pacific Rim
  • Melanesian anthropology
  • The UCSD Archives document the history of the campus

Digitization has made many of UCSD’s special collections more widely accessible. Search or browse the digital library collections here:


Heather Smedberg's picture
Heather Smedberg
Special Collections & Archives

Geisel Library Building