Arizona and the Southwest at the University of Arizona Library Special Collections
By Julie Carleton
Since its formation in 1958, the University of Arizona Library Special Collections has developed an extensive collection of materials on Arizona and the Southwest. At present, this collection includes 100,000 books and 3,000 feet of manuscripts. These materials are a valuable resource to researchers and scholars.
I visited the Library’s Special Collections on a cold (for Tucson) day in mid-December. Having undergone renovations last year, the building has improved in many ways. The exhibit hall and reading room have at least doubled in square footage. In addition, the reading room has private off rooms for the researcher to utilize. Glass walls and slate flooring present an atmosphere of elegance and openness. My meeting was scheduled with Shan Sutton, Archivist in Special Collections. As the initial tour began, we headed toward the vault. We easily could have spent hours talking about the collection of over fifty Incunabula or the Science collection, which includes Copernicus’’s de Revolutionibus, 1543. Remembering the real reason for the interview, I quickly brought my attention back to the focus of this article: notable books and manuscripts on Arizona and the Southwest, as contained in Special Collections at the University of Arizona Library.
Arizona, the Southwest, and Borderlands
For those readers that are new to Arizona and the Southwest as a collecting genre, suffice it to say that Arizona has a rich and varied history. Although the state was formed in 1912, published works about the region reache as far back as the 16th century, when the Spaniards first ventured northward from Mexico. There are several major subtopics within the history of Arizona and the Southwest, depending on the interest of the reader. These major areas include Native Americans, Spanish explorers, Missionaries, Pioneers, American explorers and natural history. One should also be aware that the term Southwest is subjective. Lawrence Clark Powell defined it as the area falling within Texas, New Mexico and Arizona1 . The borderland area refers to that part of Northern Mexico that runs from California to Texas.
Note: all references to books, manuscripts and authors are listed in the bibliography following this interview. JC refers to the author of this article, Julie Carleton; SS refers to Shan Sutton, Archivist in Special Collections.
1 Lawrence Clark Powell. Southwestern Book Trails. Albuquerque: Horn & Wallace, 1963: 3.