About Special Collections


The mission of Special Collections is to preserve, safeguard, organize, and describe materials in our collecting areas, making them available for current and future generations. Special Collections supports the teaching and research activities of the University of Houston, and serves as a resource for the scholarly community and the general public. The services provided include reference, instruction, archival collections processing, book processing, digitization, collection development, exhibits, marketing, and outreach.

Institutional History

The University of Houston Libraries Special Collections was established in 1968. Its first curator, Mrs. Marian Orgain, worked diligently during the department’s first decade to develop its collections, particularly manuscript materials and book collections focused on Texana, English and American literature, and fine press printing.

Dr. David Farmer assumed the Department Head position in 1983, and he endeavored to continue to build a research-oriented, patron-responsive Special Collections.  In Fall 1984, Pat Bozeman joined the library as its first Special Collections Librarian.  Farmer and Bozeman established the Special Collections instruction program, an active exhibits program, and began to acquire materials designed to build on existing strengths; they also explored the possibilities of formally establishing the University Archives.

Bozeman was appointed as Department Head of Special Collections in 1986 and continued to establish forward-thinking management practices, such as computer-generated finding aids for collections, electronic information systems, including websites, digital imaging services, and increased outreach and instruction efforts. The department also continued to focus on acquisition in areas supporting academic departments, including Texas history, 20th century English and American literature, African-American and Hispanic authors, history of the book, history of paper, and fine press printing.

Following Bozeman’s retirement in 2015, Christian Kelleher was named as the fourth Department Head of UH Special Collections. Having previously worked as a consultant for History Associates Incorporated and in development with nonprofit literary publisher Graywolf Press, he most recently served as Archivist and Assistant Head Librarian at the University of Texas at Austin’s Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection. Kelleher brings a unique experience and vision to a department that now boasts a broad swath of collecting areas, rich in research potential. Special Collections now draws on the expertise of seven professional librarians and archivists who endeavor to describe, preserve, and promote rare and unique materials ranging from the University of Houston Archives to medieval manuscripts to born-digital electronic records. 

Collections Scope

The University of Houston Libraries Special Collections includes eleven collecting areas. For more information about these collecting areas, or to view materials within these areas, please select from the below list.


Collecting AreaContact
Architecture & PlanningStephen James
Carey Shuart Women’s Research CollectionVince Lee
Contemporary LiteratureChristian Kelleher
Energy & SustainabilityDr. Teresa (Terry) Tomkins-Walsh
Hispanic CollectionsLisa Cruces
Houston & Texas HistoryVince Lee
Houston Hip HopJulie Grob
Houston History Archives
Terry Tomkins-Walsh
KUHT CollectionEmily Vinson
LGBT History
Vince Lee
Performing & Visual ArtsMary Manning
Rare BooksJulie Grob
University ArchivesMary Manning
USS Houston & Military HistoryChristian Kelleher