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History and Delawareana in Special Collections

About the collection

All aspects of American history from the sixteenth century onward are represented in Special Collections and a wide range of geographical, chronological, and topical sources available for research in American history in Special Collections. Special Collections's holdings for the Civil War period are also strong and late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century strengths include a growing collection of United States Congressional papers and the papers of the diplomat George S. Messersmith, whose distinguished career spanned more than four decades.

Featured Collection


George H. Messersmith papers

American statesman George Strausser Messersmith (1883-1960) was a prescient observer of world events whose lengthy dispatches and meticulous correspondence reflect his role in shaping American identity and policy through ten diplomatic posts on three continents between 1914 and 1947. The University of Delaware Library holds Messersmith's papers. Click here for more information about the papers and access to the digitized collection.

The Lincoln Collection

The Lincoln Collection contains over two thousand books and pamphlets, photographs, artwork, sculpture, artifacts, historic documents, and miscellaneous material pertaining to the life and career of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), the sixteenth President of the United States. Among the most significant items in the collection are copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment signed by Lincoln.

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Visual material

In addition to manuscript and archival collections, Special Collections also holds a variety of visual materials, including photographs, etchings, artwork, and graphical ephemera such as book jackets and posters, as well as other related materials such as cartes-de-visite.

Prints, Photographs and Images (PPI)

Graphics collections (GRA)

Digital Collections

American Civil War Digital Collections: Letters and Diaries

View three collections of personal correspondence from Delawareans who served in the war on the side of the Union.


American Civil War Digital Collections: Autograph Abraham Lincoln Documents

Thirteen images of documents in the University of Delaware's Lincoln Collection that are either handwritten by Abraham Lincoln or contain his original signature.


American Civil War Digital Collections: Alexander Gardner Photographs of Lincoln Conspirators

Ten photographs of the execution of the conspirators to President Lincoln's assassination.


American Civil War Digital Collections: Pierce Family Papers

Correspondence from George and Enos Pierce, of the 97th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, to their parents and siblings.


American Civil War Digital Collections: Rosenthal Lithographic Prints of Civil War Encampments

Published between 1861 and 1865 by four Polish-born immigrant brothers.

Highlights from the manuscript collection

MSS 290 Thomas R. Booth Diaries, 1855-1860.

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MSS 242 Andrew Clow & Co. Papers, 1783-1814.

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MSS 271 George Gillespie Evans Papers, 1815-1904.

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MSS 117 Latimer Family Papers, 1690-1927, bulk dates 1770-1870.

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Select bibliographies

Listed here are bibliographies of resources in Special Collections pertaining to American history. Please note that the items listed in the bibliographies represent only a small portion of materials on American history held in Special Collections.