Special Collections


Rare Book Collection

The Rare Book Collection includes books that must be used under supervision because they are old, rare, delicate, or valuable. The six thousand books in this collection are entered in OneSearch! with the location designation SPEC COLL. The strengths of this collection include Iowa and local history; Prairie Press publications; local authors; early children's books; historic school texts; selected books from early printers; and other volumes that illustrate the history of printing and binding.

Small Press Collection

The Small Press Collection includes publications from fine presses in Iowa and in areas immediately surrounding the state. These presses include Abattoir, Seamark, Cummington, Toothpaste, Spirit That Moves Us, Juniper, Stonewall, and several others. This collection displays the virtuoso talents of the finest Midwestern printers, designers, illustrators, and binders over the last thirty years. Material in this collection is entered in OneSearch! with the designation SPEC COLL P.

Stageberg Linguistics Collection

The Stageberg Collection is the professional linguistics collection of Professor Norman C. Stageberg, a long-time member of the UNI English faculty. Included in this collection are important early editions of several grammars and dictionaries as well as later publications. Material in this collection is listed in OneSearch! with the location designation SPEC COLL S.

American Fiction Collection

This collection of 5,300 volumes is composed of first editions of novels written by United States authors who published their first novels between 1960 and 1980. The volumes are in mint condition in dust jackets. The collection includes some proofs and advance reading copies. Material in this collection is entered in OneSearch! with the location designation SPEC COLL F.

Manuscripts Collection

The Manuscripts Collection is comprised of about ninety collections of material relating to organizations or individuals who are not formally associated with the University of Northern Iowa. However, most of these collections come from people and organizations whose interests and history are related in some way to UNI. The primary emphases are local political history and professional education associations. Collection size varies from a few pages to several hundred cartons. There are detailed inventories for these collections in ArchivesSpace. Some of these collections are entered in OneSearch!.

Wadle Paperback Collection

The Wadle Paperback Collection, named for donor and 1978 UNI alumnus Maurice "Moe" Wadle, contains more than 1,200 pieces of the well-known Pocket Book series, one of the first popular paperback series in the United States, and more than 4,900 pieces published by New American Library. The collection was acquired in 2011, with some later additions, from Wadle, who put the collection together as a hobby over nearly 25 years. The Pocket Book series includes almost all of the titles that are available and contains books from 1939 to 1961, most of which are first printings. The New American Library series, beginning in 1946, was first published with the Penguin imprint and then transitioned to Signet. The books include several different subjects ranging from mysteries, popular pulp fiction, reference books and classic fine literature. The Pocket Book series was a cheap alternative to hardback books and often sold at newspaper stands for only a quarter. In addition to its low price, the series received much of its appeal from the flashy, colored bindings and cover art. The designs were often drawn by well-known commercial artists. The books represent a segment of 20th century U.S. popular culture, commercial art, and graphic design. In addition to the paperbacks, the collection contains detailed inventories and custom-made references and card catalogs, notes, correspondence, and photocopies of cover art for Wadle's personal organization and use. There are also a number of reference books and journals on the topic of paperbacks, their artwork, and authors. There is one piece of original cover art, a painting by George Mayers for the book Benjamin Blake, Son of Fury, by Edison Marshall.  Much of the collection is now cataloged in OneSearch! with the location designation SPEC COLL WADLE.


Please note: Special Collections & University Archives (SC&UA) collects, preserves, and provides access to rare, valuable, and delicate collections of books, manuscripts, and institutional records. Materials located in SC&UA come from a broad range of sources and time periods. Some of these materials may contain offensive stereotypes, ideas, visuals, or language. Such materials serve as evidence of the era in which they were created, and are part of the historical record. Their presence should be viewed and considered within their historical context. They do not represent the views of the University of Northern University, the Library, or SC&UA, which strive to create and maintain a welcoming and inclusive environment.