Georgia State University Library’s Special Collections and Archives collects and preserves unique and rare historical materials in selected subject areas. The department promotes the use of these materials by the Georgia State University community, scholars and the public. Its goal is to advance scholarship and to further the educational, research and service missions of the university.
Many of the collections consist of records of organizations or papers of individuals documenting the twentieth and twenty-first century American South. Subject strengths of Special Collections and Archives include the heritage of workers and their unions in the South and elsewhere (Southern Labor Archives, Archives of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers), American popular music and culture (Johnny Mercer Collection, Popular Music & Culture Collection), efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in Georgia and the second wave of the women’s movement (Donna Novak Coles Georgia Women's Movement Archives), regional and national efforts to ratify the ERA and the second wave of the women’s movement (Lucy Hargrett Draper U.S. Equal Rights Amendment (1921-1982) Research Collection), women-centered and LGBTQ activist and advocacy activities in Georgia and the Southeast (Archives for Research on Women and Gender), and other social movements, especially in Georgia (Social Change Collection). Georgia’s political heritage is documented in several of the collections as well as the Georgia Government Documentation Project.
The department also houses the Georgia State University Archives, consisting of records of University offices, deliberative bodies, and organizations, as well as resources on GSU history.
In addition to manuscripts and organizational records, many of the collections listed above contain visual resources, sound recordings, and moving images. Special Collections and Archives houses millions of historical photographs documenting twentieth-century Atlanta and Georgia (Photograph Collections, Atlanta Journal-Constitution Photographic Archive).
Oral histories, containing personal accounts of people’s lives and events they observed or participated in, are another strength of Special Collections and Archives. Active oral history programs are a feature of many of the collections. Finally, the University Library’s Rare Book Collection is housed in Special Collections and Archives.