About the Library

Established in 1970, the Walter Havighurst Special Collections is named for Walter Havighurst, a writer and professor of English who taught at Miami University from 1928 to 1969. Helen Ball was its first curator.

Today, the Walter Havighurst Special Collections in King Library houses more than 65,000 volumes, plus manuscripts and archives. Cataloged volumes are included in the Miami University Libraries’ online catalog at http://www.lib.miamioh.edu. Pathfinders for selected manuscript collections and archives are also available.

Located on the third floor of King Library, the Walter Havighurst Special Collections invites researchers to enjoy its reading rooms and an exhibit gallery.

Together with volumes from the old Rare Book Room in the Alumni Library, the Walter Havighurst Special Collections includes rare books, such as the:


  • 1841 Collection, extant books from the University’s library in 1841
  • Samuel F. Covington Collection of 19th-century Americana, focusing on the Old Northwest Territory and the Ohio River Valley
  • Edgar W. and Faith King Collection of Juvenile Literature
  • Literary and subject collections, such as the William D. Howells Collection and the André L. de Saint-Rat Collection of Russian History, Literature and Art
  • William Holmes McGuffey schoolbooks, a collection of 336 Readers ranging from Primer to Word List

Manuscript collections include the:


  • Samuel W. Richey Collection of the Southern Confederacy
  • The Edgar M. Branch Collection of James T. Farrell Materials
  • William Holmes McGuffey Papers
  • William Dean Howells Papers
  • Eldon C. Hill Collection on Hamlin Garland

The Walter Havighurst Special Collections also houses the:


  • Spiro Peterson Center for Defoe Studies
  • Native American Women Playwrights Archive (NAWPA)
  • Rodolfo Usigli Archive

Other significant collections include the English Toy Theater Collection, together with numerous archives dealing with all aspects of transportation, including collections from Charles Murphy, Robert Reed, Phil Ronfor, and John H. White, Jr.

The Walter Havighurst Special Collections includes first editions and copies of many titles of literature’s finest authors, illustrators, and playwrights, including:


Uri Annenkov Edmund Dulac Alexander Pushkin
Aphra Behn William Faulkner Howard Pyle
William Blake Robert Frost Arthur Rackham
Randolph Caldecott Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm Joseph Ray
Willa Cather Rockwell Kent William Shakespeare
George Catlin Oskar Kokoschka Leon Trotsky
Walter Crane Christopher Morley Tasha Tudor
George Cruikshank Eugene O’Neill Mark Twain
Charles Dickens George Orwell Lynd Ward
Gustave Doré Maxfield Parrish Mary Wollstonecraft
Rita Dove Ezra Pound N. C. Wyeth

Also included are collections of the works and/or correspondence of:

  • John Shaw Billings (1838-1913), librarian, scientist, surgeon and Miami alumnus;
  • the working library of Louise Bogan (1897-1970), American poet;
  • Daniel Defoe ( 1659?-1731), English writer of Robinson Crusoe;
  • James T. Farrell (1904-1979), American author;
  • Hamlin Garland (1860-1940), American author;
  • Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901), lawyer, Miami alumnus and 23rd President of the U.S.;
  • William Dean Howells (1837-1920), American author and area native;
  • William Holmes McGuffey (1800-1873), American educator, author and Miami professor;
  • Matthew Prior (1664-1721), English poet and diplomat;
  • Robert B. Stanton (1846-1922), civil engineer, explorer and Miami alumnus;
  • Rodolfo Usigli (1909-1979), Mexican playwright, essayist and diplomat.

The Samuel W. Richey Collection of the Southern Confederacy contains over 300 letters and telegrams written by Jefferson Davis, his Cabinet and generals that highlight the correspondence of Confederate leaders prior to and during the Civil War. From other collections, there are numerous diaries written by soldiers on the Union side of this conflict.

Comparative resources are available on the American Revolution (from the Colonists, British and French perspectives), the Napoleonic Wars (from the Russian and the French perspectives), the French and Indian Wars (from the French, British, Native American and Colonial perspectives), the War of 1812 (from the American, British and French perspectives), and other wars and conflicts.

The history of the Old Northwest Territory and the Ohio River Valley is available in the Covington Collection of over 10,000 volumes that chronicle exploration, settlement and growth of these areas. Shedding light on the region are emigrant guides; books on farming and mechanical arts; early regional imprints; and territory, state, regional and local histories. Contemporary accounts and documentary material chronicle the history of transportation, including early railroads and river navigation, with special emphasis on the Ohio River system and Cincinnati’s riverboats.

Early U.S. exploration is represented in materials by Lewis & Clark, Zebulon Pike, Stephen Long, Robert Stanton, and Henry Schoolcraft, as well as works on Arctic, Antarctic and Canadian expeditions. Works about British, French and European exploration are also represented. Writings and translations of early missionaries living in North America, together with early maps and atlases, enhance these collections.

The exploration of the United States is tied almost directly with the development of transportation. The collections include stagecoach, canal and railroad timetables, and materials documenting the development of inland river and steamboat transportation on the Ohio and Mississippi River systems.

Consisting of over 10,000 children’s books, toys and games, and magazines printed from the seventeenth century through the early 1900s, the Edgar and Faith King Juvenile Literature Collection provides insight into the activities of children for more than three hundred years. Additionally, the Walter Havighurst Special Collections houses one of the most extensive collections of the McGuffey Eclectic Readers, which mirror the changes in the educational process in 19th-century America. Both of these collections are enhanced by an additional 5,000 schoolbooks published on numerous subjects from the late 1790s to the early 1900s.

The André de Saint-Rat Collection of Russian History, Literature and Art contains 18th-, 19th- and 20th- century pre- Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary Russian political and military history, literature and art. Czar Nicholas II and Czarina Alexandra once owned several of these volumes.

The Shaker Collection contains over 500 volumes on the various aspects of the United Society of Believers, including the music and hymns of this small religious sect.

Native American history, traditions, arts and language are featured in three collections, including the Myaamia Collection, the Ferdinand Bach Collection of Native American Materials and the Native American Women Playwrights Archive.

The Cradle of Coaches Archive includes playbooks, correspondence, speeches and/or memorabilia of Miami coaches and players including: Paul Brown, Weeb Ewbank, Sid Gilman, Carm Cozza, Bo Schembechler and Randy Walker.

The 1841 Collection contains about 1,600 extant volumes of Miami’s earliest cataloged library.

Other collections also include volumes that illustrate the history of printing, bookbinding and the history of the book, early texts in classical architecture, classical language, drama and theater, business, religion, manufacturing, engineering and technology, patents, herbals and botanicals, applied sciences, and medicine.


About the Library

(513) 529-3323
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Monday - Friday
321 King Library
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News and Events

Please note we have changed to our summer hours.

New finding aid: Clyde Fisher and Te Ata Collection.

The Indian Creek Baptist Church Meeting Minutes, 1810-1850, has been digitized and transcribed by Samantha Harris as part of a W.E. Smith Family Charitable Trust grant. View the digitized copy and transcription here.

Next year's exhibit topics have been selected! Summer 2015: Miami Univeristy in the 1960's, Fall 2015: artists' books, Spring 2016: travel maps & postcards.