The Special Collections and Archives of Clemson University Libraries preserves and makes accessible the University Archives, Manuscript Collections, and Rare Books. Material in the Special Collections and Archives includes many items of considerable historic significance. These primary resources and rare or unique materials engage, enrich, and support the research, teaching, learning, and administration at Clemson University.
Reference assistance is available Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, from Special Collections staff in the Reading Room located in the Strom Thurmond Institute Building (STI 109) on the University’s main campus.
Please review all guidelines and access policies. Bringing a completed Patron Registration Form to your initial visit will expedite the research process. You also will need to show a photo ID (driver’s license or college/university ID preferred) before beginning your research.
The Special Collections and Archives offers research consultations for all researchers interested in using the Archives’ materials. The consultation is an in-depth, customized, one-on-one meeting to discuss possible search strategies for class assignments, Masters theses, Doctoral dissertations, and private research. It can include the formulation of a paper/thesis/dissertation topic based on the collections, instruction in using the collection finding aids effectively, and assistance in identifying material at other institutions that can be used to research the topic chosen.
Please contact the Special Collections and Archives to arrange a meeting.
Before You Start
Guide to Using Specials Collections and Archives Material
It helps to come to Special Collections and Archives with a topic or research question in mind. Discuss your research with Archives staff throughout your project. They are familiar with the collections and may be able to help you to refine your research topic or offer suggestions for search strategy.
Getting started: background research and forming a research question
- Use published sources and trusted web sites to collect background information on your topic.
- Read citations, bibliographies and footnotes, looking for references to archival or special collections.
- Look for information on important people, dates, groups and events related to your topic.
- Familiarize yourself with key terms and concepts for the time period and topic you are researching.
- Review online inventories for collections (finding aids) to find sources that fit your topic.
- Finding aids have biographies, histories, and other information that will help you understand the records you are using. Consult these before you look at the records.
Making the most of your research time
- Call ahead to make sure that the collection you are interested in is available. Some of our collections are stored off-site and need to be retrieved.
- Research in Special Collections & Archives usually takes more time than online or regular library research. The amount of time needed will vary depending on the scope of your project.
- You may need to look through a large amount of material to find information or piece together evidence from different sources.
- The materials are not always arranged in an order that is easy to use.
- Some documents are handwritten, faded, or fragile. Using these types of document may take longer than expected.
- Materials in Special Collections & Archives may only be used in the Archives Reading Room. The items are non-circulating and cannot be checked out.
How to find sources in the Special Collections and Archives
- Not all guides are online. If you don’t find what you are looking for, contact the Special Collections and Archives. They may have more information about materials that are not described online.
- Search tip: You may have to try more than one search to find what you need. If you do not get any results, try other terms, use more general or more specific terms, or try terms that were used in the era you are researching. Research staff may be able to suggest search terms for your topic.
What is a collection guide and why should I use it?
A guide is like an inventory for a group of archival records, personal papers, or manuscripts. It is a tool to help researchers determine if the materials relate to their research, find where sources are located, and understand and interpret the materials they are using. A guide may be a brief summary or a detailed description and inventory. It contains information on:
- Who created the materials
- Dates of the records
- The history or biography of the creator of the records
- How the materials are organized
- Selected topics covered by the records
- The amount and types of material available
Can I see actual documents online?
In some cases, yes, but most documents in the Special Collections and Archives are not online at this time. Please check the guides to see what is available online.
General Notice Concerning Copyright
Materials in the Special Collections and Archives may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, United States Code). Use of these materials beyond the exceptions provided in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law.
Copyright at Clemson University (Office of General Counsel)
How to Cite
Citing information from the Special Collections Library website
The citation should take the following format:
[identification of the item] from Special Collections Library website, Clemson University Libraries, Clemson, South Carolina <URL of item>.
“Price list” from Special Collections Library website, Clemson University Libraries, Clemson, South Carolina <http://www.lib.clemson.edu/SpCol/scserv.html>.
“Collection Development Policy” from Special Collections Library website, Clemson University Libraries, Clemson, South Carolina <http://www.lib.clemson.edu/SpCol/scpol.html>.
Citing digitized images available from Special Collections Library website
The citation should take the following format:
[identification of the item, folder, box, title of the collection (and series, if applicable)] from Special Collections Library website, Clemson University Libraries, Clemson, South Carolina <URL of item>.
Photograph of Strom Thurmond as a senior at Clemson College (1922), Folder 1, Box 1, Mss 100 Strom Thurmond Collection Photographs Series from Special Collections Library website, Clemson University Libraries, Clemson, South Carolina <http://libimage.lib.clemson.edu/photos/POLITICS/THURMOND/THURMOND.HTM>.
Photograph of Tillman Hall being destroyed by fire (May 22, 1894), Folder “Buildings–Tillman Hall–Fire” folder, Clemson University Photographs from Special Collections Library website, Clemson University Libraries, Clemson, South Carolina <http://libimage.lib.clemson.edu/photos/UNIVHIST/BUILDI/TILLMA1.HTM>.
Citing materials from manuscript collections and the University Archives
Use the following format:
Identification of the item, folder and box number, and title of the collection, Special Collections Library, Clemson University Libraries, Clemson, South Carolina.