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Special Collections: Class Usage

Teaching a class that would benefit from using Special Collections Materials?


Incorporating Special Collections materials can be as simple a brief show and tell in your classroom or as elaborate as a semester-long project that involves visiting the collection both inside and outside of class.  Not sure how Special Collections can be incorporated into your class? Send Heidi Pettitt your syllabus and she will come up with some suggestions!

Student Benefits

Students who use Special Collections materials generally:

  • Learn to incorporate primary and secondary sources into their scholarship
  • Learn to use advanced searching skills to improve their research results
  • Improve their abilities to evaluate and interpret information

For Professors

Professors who are interested in adding a Special Collections component to their classes should contact Heidi Pettitt for:

  • An initial consultation to discuss the class/possible materials and assignments
  • An in-depth tour of the Special Collections to find suitable materials
  • Access to digital versions of out-of-copyright materials that are needed for the course
  • A report of digitized materials that may be useful to the course
  • Assignment development assistance
  • Extra access to the Special Collections room
  • Special Collections instruction for your class


Dr. Eby's The Age of Love and Reason, 1075-1517

Students in the course used various manuscripts to draw conclusions about life during the period studied. In addition to creating informative essays, students also digitized one of the manuscripts and created a website to house the manuscript and their essays. The website address is

Dr. Swanson's Music History IMusic History students studying choir books

After a class spent learning about scriptoriums and book binding, students in the course chose a section from our musical manuscripts from the 1400's and translated the notation into modern musical notation.

Dr. Neyland's American Literature Modern/Contemporary Poetry

Our collection of materials by and about T. S. Eliot was used by this class to inform the creation of protest poems. Their first introduction to the collection was done by bringing the materials to their classroom. Students then visited the room on their own for individual research.

Dr. VanLaningham's Bleak House in Context

Students in this J-Term course utilized a variety of materials printed during the Victorian Era to help them better understand the lives of the characters in Bleak House. Students spent over 10 hours in Special Collections studying the materials and creating presentations, online journals, and materials for the display case.