Distinctive collections take center stage

Exhibit open: December 2017 – May 2018

In today’s age of information overabundance, Vanderbilt is home to millions of physical books and billions of digital bytes of data via databases, subscriptions and cloud-based repositories. But what makes our libraries unique?

The Heard libraries’ distinctive collections are areas of particular strength that set Vanderbilt apart from other research libraries. They include items of great rarity, historic value and even one-of-a-kind treasures which hold the power to connect us to our recent and more distant pasts, making history come alive. They stimulate teaching and scholarship, draw up memories and inspire new knowledge.

Through this exhibition, we hope to inform and excite the campus and wider community about the robust materials the library has to offer in these domains.

From Civil War surgical instruments to rare decks of hand-illustrated tarot card and photographs of freedom riders from the Civil Rights Movement in 1960s Nashville, our distinctive collections continue to grow.

On display are materials featuring southern history and culture, 20th century civil rights, Latin American studies, French modern literature, the history of medicine, games and leisure, American journalism and politics in the 20th century, performing arts, astronomy and physics, rare books and fine bindings, and the history of Vanderbilt University.


[Civil War-Era Surgical Kit, USA Issue], circa 1865. History of Medicine Collection, Eskind Biomedial Library Special Collections


[Freedom Riders, John Lewis, Charles Butler, Catherine Burks Brooks, Lucretia Collins, and Salynn McCollum sit on a Bench in the Birmingham Greyhound Station], The Birmingham News. May 17, 1961. Salynn McCollum Papers, Vanderbilt University Special Collections


Bourgeois Tarot, Designed and printed by C. L. Wüst of Frankfurt. Circa 1890. George Clulow-United States Playing Card Company Game Collection, Vanderbilt University Special Collections

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