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Special Collections & Rare Books: Home

Special Collections & Rare Books includes unique and specialized items of local, state, and regional interest and is one of Criss Library Archives & Special Collections’ collecting areas.

Special Collections & Rare Books Overview

Material in Special Collections & Rare Books in UNO Criss Library's Archives & Special Collections contains unique and specialized items of local, state and regional interest in addition to a wide variety of materials in many subject areas and formats, including Omaha and Nebraska history, pre-19th century books, autographed books and rare first editions.

All books are described and searchable in the library's catalog.

Finding aids for the individual collections that are part of the other special collections are available from Archives & Special CollectionsArchives & Special Collections' database provides finding aids for researchers to search or browse. The database was launched in September 2014 and finding aids for collections will continue to be added. Researchers will note finding aids for material from University Archives, Special Collections, and the Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection in the Archives & Special Collections' database. If you have not found what you are looking for in the database contact staff in Criss Library's Archives & Special Collections for assistance.


Archives & Special Collections at UNO Criss Library is open to the public Monday-Friday 8am-5pm and by appointment.

Archives & Special Collections is closed whenever Criss Library is closed

Archives & Special Collections will close at 4pm on Friday, June 26, 2015.

Archives & Special Collections will be closed on Friday, July 3, 2015.

Archives & Special Collections will be closed on Monday, September 7, 2015. 

Find Us

Archives & Special Collections is located on the lower level (first floor) of Criss Library. Directions to the library and information about campus parking is also available. A number of hotels are located near campus and in the greater Omaha area.

Prepare for Your Visit

We encourage all researchers to review online information about finding material in and using material from Archives & Special Collections in advance of your visit to Criss Library. Archives & Special Collections includes the Afghanistan Collection, the U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel ArchivesUniversity Archives, and Special Collections and Rare Books

Research appointments are not required, but are encouraged for those visiting Archives & Special Collections in Criss Library. An appointment can ensure your research visit is as productive as possible. Contact us in advance of your visit to make an appointment. 

Have a question about Archives & Special Collections not answered on our pages for visitors? Contact us

Special Collections & Rare Books Highlights

Rare Books:

  • Icarian Collection: The Icarian collection contains several hundred books formerly owned by a 19th Century utopian community based near Corning, Iowa. The collection consists of books published from the early 1700's to the late 1800's, most of them in French. The collection is of historical and sociological value to scholars of utopian studies and also includes documents, books, and articles relating to the history of the Icarian community. The collection was originally acquired by Iowa's Tabor College and it was then acquired by Omaha University when Tabor closed.
  • Fine Arts Presses: Special Collections houses a large collection of fine arts press publications from around the United States. The most important of these are the Mary L. Richmond Cummington Press Collection and UNO's own Abattoir Editions.
  • Nebraska Authors and Literature: Special Collections has a number of first editions and autographed copies of books by Nebraska authors, but the most significant collections are those on Wright Morris, Weldon Kees, and Wayne C. Lee. In addition, Special Collections also houses archival collections (correspondence, manuscripts, etc.) of Seven Anderton, a Nebraska pulp fiction writer and newspaperman, and of Steppenwolf, a poetry magazine edited by Philip Boatright.
  • Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection: The collection has over 20,000 titles in twenty-nine different languages and approximately 75% of the titles are in English. It is understood to be the largest such collection in the Western Hemisphere.  The Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection Bibliography, Volume I: Pashto and Dari Titles (1995) and Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection Bibliography - Volume II: English and European Languages (2000) are available online from DigitalCommons@UNO.

Special Collections:

  • Omaha Chamber of Commerce Records: The collection covers business and industry in Omaha for 1912-1979. The records include meeting minutes, publications, and other material.
  • Omaha Federal Writer's Project (W.P.A.) Collection: This collection consists of hundreds of files of information collected in the 1930's by the Omaha Federal Writer's Project of the Works Project Administration. These files contain a wealth of unpublished material on Omaha and the surrounding area, including research for the uncompleted Omaha City Guide, and valuable information on the history of local newspapers and ethnic groups.
  • Opera Omaha Records: The historical records of Opera Omaha from the 1950s to the company's recent history are available and include photographs, programs, news clippings, recordings, meeting minutes, and other material. 
  • Omaha Theater Company (formerly the Emmy Gifford Children's Theater): The Omaha Theater Company Records contain materials from 1949 to the present, documenting the history of the organization, its administration, and its productions. The organization changed names during the covered period, starting as the Omaha Junior Theater in 1948, becoming the Emmy Gifford Children's Theater in 1977, and becoming the Omaha Theater Company for Young People in 1993, eventually shortening the name to the Omaha Theater Company. 
  • Douglas County Election Commission: Records of the Douglas County Election Commission, of Douglas County, Nebraska, including Omaha. Records include folders of maps and charts, election results and analysis, and other material from 1893-1991.

Special Collections & Rare Books

History of the Collection

The beginning of the Rare Book collection can be traced to a collection acquired from Tabor College in Tabor, Iowa. Tabor College closed in 1927 and Omaha University acquired books from Tabor, including the Icarian Collection. The library has continued to add to the collection through gifts, transfers from the library's general stacks, and the purchase of material. 

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