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Special Collections are library and archival materials in any format (e.g., rare books, manuscripts, photographs, institutional archives) that are characterized by their artifactual or monetary value, physical format, uniqueness or rarity, and/or an institutional commitment to long-term preservation and access. They generally are housed in a separate unit with specialized security and user services.* 

The depth of primary source materials housed in Special Collections and University Archives offer unique opportunities for scholarship and support a wide range of disciplines. The rare book collection includes more than 30,000 titles dating from 1493 to the present. The department is particularly recognized for its expanding and extensive Long Island collection of maps, manuscripts, and ephemeral materials. The Senator Jacob K. Javits Collection contains nearly two million items on modern United States history and the career of New York’s longest serving state senator. The W.B. Yeats Collection is the most extensive collection of the famed Irish poet and author’s manuscripts housed outside of Ireland. In 2002, the department became the official repository for Environmental Defense Fund, whose efforts in 1967 led to the nationwide ban on DDT and the birth of modern environmental law.

In 2006 and 2009, two rare American Revolutionary War-era letters authored by George Washington, documenting spy activities in Setauket, NY during 1779 and 1780, were acquired. The purchase of these letters was made possible with a generous gift from Dr. Henry and Marsha Laufer and laid the foundation for the establishment of a Long Island Historic Documents Collection. The collection includes primary and secondary source material on the history of Long Island from the earliest settlers through the present, with a strong emphasis on the period of the American Revolution through the War of 1812 (1764-1812).

Special Collections has been honored by the New York Board of Regents and New York State Archives and was awarded its “Annual Archives Award for Program Excellence in a Historical Records Repository.” In August 2012, the department’s guide to digital Long Island documents and books was lauded by The Scout Report, a division of the National Science Foundation’s National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Project.

Special Collections and University Archives is committed to providing excellent research experiences and opportunities. Through the acquisition and preservation of diverse collections, and its comprehensive reference and outreach services, the department enriches the educational, scholarly, and entrepreneurial endeavors of Stony Brook University. Access is open and universal, to elevate the university's leadership role in scholarship, economic growth, technology, and culture.

Special Collections was founded in 1969, when Roger H. Guedalla and George Quasha of the Stony Brook University's Department of English purchased a modern literature collection that was comprised of books and manuscripts by the extraordinary group of authors and poets involved with the Black Mountain College in North Carolina. The manuscripts are now housed within the Historical and Literary Manuscripts Collection (SC 100) and include original materials by Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, and Fielding Dawson. 

We are here to help. Please contact us if we can be of any assistance.

Kristen J. Nyitray
Director, Special Collections and University Archives
University Archivist 
Associate Librarian
Library liaison areas: papers and manuscript collections; rare and special books; historical maps; University Archives; Stony Brook Authors and Editors Collection
Department webmaster

Kristen J. Nyitray is Director of Special Collections and University Archives, and University Archivist, at Stony Brook University. She is a recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Librarianship from State University of New York and the President's Award for Excellence in Librarianship from Stony Brook University. Under her directorship, the New York Board of Regents and New York State Archives awarded Special Collections with its prestigious "Annual Archives Award for Program Excellence in a Historical Records Repository." Her recent professional activities can be browsed here.

Lynn Toscano
Assistant Head, Special Collections and University Archives 

Lynn Toscano is Assistant Head of Special Collections and University Archives at Stony Brook University and recipient of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service from State University of New York. She obtained her M.A. in Italian Language and Literature from Rutgers University.

*Source: Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives, OCLC, 2010.

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