A-Z Index

Archives and Special Collections

Located on the second floor of the B.D. Owens Library, the University Archives contain thousands of documents, photographs and artifacts associated with more than 100 years of Northwest history.

Most of the material is available to members of the news media, though access to some especially valuable or rare artifacts may be limited or supervised.

For more information, email the University Archivist at

The library also contains a number of special collections, including the Hooper Civil War Collection, the Willa Cather Collection, the Lewis B. Mayhew Collection and the Charles I. Frye Collection described below.

The Willa Cather Collection

The B.D. Owens Library houses a complete first-edition set of the works of novelist Willa Cather, which was acquired by matching a substantial gift from a patron with Northwest Foundation funds.

The impetus for purchase of the set was a gift from Mrs. Charles (Lela) Bell, an avid reader and supporter of higher education and the arts, whose love for Cather's writings was inspired by a Northwest faculty member. Mrs. Bell's gift was matched by funds from the Morehouse and Saville bequests.

The first volume of the set carries Cather's signature. To support this rare holding, Owens has developed a solid collection of scholarly material about Cather ranging from biographies and annotated bibliographies through memorabilia to current criticism of her works.

The most recent acquisition to the Cather collection is a rare "advanced copy" -- a bound galley proof -- sent to Cather for final editing before the work was published.

The Hooper Civil War Collection

Tom Hooper, a Maryville resident and realtor, was an avid collector of Civil War memorabilia and writings. Of particular interest in the Hooper bequest to the B.D. Owens Library are the "Official Records of the Union Army" and the "Official Records of the Confederate Army," exhaustive records of personnel and supplies for both the North and the South.

One of the most unusual pieces of the Hooper bequest is a rare reproduction printed in a limited edition of a Civil War soldier's handwritten diary.

The Hooper bequest totals nearly 400 volumes as well as artifacts and memorabilia. This bequest is actively supported through Owens' current collection development efforts, which include additions of new scholarly works, videos and memorabilia.

The Lewis B. Mayhew Collection

The B.D. Owens Library contains the entire personal library of the eminent scholar of higher education, Dr. Lewis B. Mayhew.

The collection includes Mayhew's substantial contributions to scholarship and research in higher education, dissertations of graduate students who benefited from his mentoring and books and journals that he read and reviewed for a large number of professional associates.

The collection came to Northwest's Owens Library through the efforts of President Dean L. Hubbard, a co-author and former pupil of Dr. Mayhew's, and Dr. Mayhew's son, Lewis B. Mayhew Jr. Unique volumes in the Mayhew Collection are housed separately in the Mayhew Room. The standard works have been incorporated into Owens' main collection.

The Charles I. Frye Collection

In 1995, the B.D. Owens Library received a valuable collection of works relating to geology from Professor Charles I. Frye, who retired from Northwest in 1996 after several years of service to the Department of Geology and Geography.

Dr. Frye's interest in early and rare geology textbooks resulted in his collecting a substantial number of special works. Most notable of these is the rare 1834 edition of Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology, which delights modern-day scholars with its hand-inked face plates and maps.