Spy letters written by George Washington during the American Revolution. A history of the world published in 1493. One of the first maps depicting Long Island as an island. Photographs of Stony Brook’s original train station. These are just a few examples of the one-of-a-kind, library collections awaiting you in Special Collections and University Archives.
Special Collections and University Archives is the steward of these distinctive primary source materials. All are welcome to consult the collections. Access is by appointment in the department reading room.
The Senator Jacob K. Javits Collection contains nearly two million separate items that document 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 exciting 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 was honored in 2009 by the New York Board of Regents and New York State Archives, when it was awarded the “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.
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