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Collection Highlights of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building


The collections of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building illuminate and give meaning to our world and draw researchers from all nations to Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. For over a century, librarians in what are now 15 public service and special collections units have sought out authoritative, popular, and ephemeral materials in the humanities, with an emphasis on literature, art, and history.

These remarkable collections are vast, diverse, and not easily characterized. They range from priceless ancient rarities in the Rare Books and the Manuscripts and Archives divisions to current newspapers from all over the world. More than 1,200 languages and dialects, ancient and modern, are represented in the collections.

The uses of the collections are as varied as the items themselves:

  • A historian hears the voices of lost New York in the Dorot Jewish Division's collection of oral histories
  • A novelist finds information to recreate the life of the courts of the Romanov Tsars or of the Iroquois nation in the eighteenth century
  • An antiques collector identifies an old piece of silver from a handbook of hallmarks
  • A journalist locates an accurate map of a formerly obscure city suddenly in the news
  • A museum curator examines beautifully preserved ukiyo-e prints from nineteenth-century Japan
  • A Cuban émigré reads a copy of Diario de la Marina from 1948, preserved on microfilm
  • A literary scholar reviews the manuscripts of Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf, or Jack Kerouac

Also found in the collections of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building:

  • Ninety-eight different novels of pluck and inspiration written by Horatio Alger
  • The pictorial album and unit history of the Enola Gay (509th Composite Group), which dropped the first atomic bomb
  • The earliest known copy of the "Nican Mopohua," a narration of the mystic appearances of Our Lady of Guadalupe to a Mexican peasant in 1531
  • Two copies of the first folio edition of William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, published in 1623
  • A complete set of the South Polar Times (1902–11), with editorial contributions by Captain Robert Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton
  • A near-comprehensive collection of historical Staten Island postcards
  • More than 350 individually cataloged works by George Sand (Aurore Dupin, baronne Dudevant), the preeminent woman writer of French Romanticism
  • "Across the plains to California in 1852," the manuscript journal of Mrs. Lodisa Frizzell
  • A new circulating Children's Room, located on the ground floor

For more information on the collections, visit divisional home pages or scan available Research Guides.