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.
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.*
Stony Brook University Libraries is the largest academic research library system on Long Island and is a member of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), a non-profit consortium of distinguished libraries and archives in North America. The collections and services provided by the libraries are central to the academic success of students and facilitate the scholarship produced by world-renowned faculty and visiting scholars.
Special Collections and University Archives' collections of rare books, manuscripts, and maps comprise the largest repository of archival materials in Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island. The depth of primary sources in the collections offers diverse opportunities for scholarship and supports a wide range of disciplines. The division's Long Island collections are premier sources for the study and research of regional history. The rare book collection includes more than 30,000 titles dating from 1493 to the present. 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, Special Collections 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, the division acquired two rare American Revolutionary War-era letters authored by George Washington that document activities of the Culper Spy Ring. These important acquisitions 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 recognized and honored for its curatorial and outreach activities. The New York Board of Regents and New York State Archives awarded the department with the “Annual Archives Award for Program Excellence in a Historical Records Repository.” In August 2012, a research guide for the department's 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. In 2020, Special Collections and University Archives received the Three Village Historical Society's Kate Wheeler Strong Memorial Award in recognition of the division's significant contributions toward the fostering of interest in local history and a fuller appreciation of the rich historical and cultural heritage of the Three Village community.
FACULTY & STAFF
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Kristen J. Nyitray
Director, Special Collections and University Archives
Library liaison areas: papers and manuscript collections; rare and special books; historical maps; University Archives; Stony Brook Authors and Editors Collection
Kristen J. Nyitray is Director of Special Collections and University Archives, and University Archivist, at Stony Brook University. Her publications range from articles on archival science and video game history to the books Long Island Beaches and Stony Brook: State University of New York. She is a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists, and recipient of the Chancellor’s Award from the State University of New York and the President’s Award from Stony Brook University for Excellence in Librarianship. Her recent professional activities can be browsed here .
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.