Special Collections

Special Collections is assisting researchers by appointment or remotely in order to comply with COVID-19 prevention measures. Please contact us to discuss your research needs so that together we can determine whether in-person (by-appointment) or remote assistance is most appropriate.

Because appointments are limited and may not immediately be available, please contact us well in advance of your assignment deadline. Due to staffing and space constraints, the number of researchers in Special Collections at one time will be held to a maximum of two.

Additionally, Special Collections is asking volunteers to document personal experiences during the coronavirus pandemic and contribute them to the TCU archives. Learn more about and contribute to this project.

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Current Exhibit


This year marks the quincentennial of the start of the Spanish-led invasion (1519-1521) responsible for the fall of the Mexica Empire in Mesoamerica. In the aftermath of this traumatic episode, Spaniards shattered old politico-religious hierarchies, dismantled or absorbed indigenous armies and conscripted the native elite to help further colonization.

Books played a central role in this process. Spanish missionaries, cosmographers, chroniclers, and physicians wrote major studies on botany, ethnography, navigation, indigenous languages, war, and history aided by capable, though often reluctant, indigenous informants. Native and mixed-race intellectuals penned their own historical accounts, natural histories, and cosmological studies, wrote poetry and plays, and composed lyrics and music in Nahuatl, Spanish, and Latin. Alphabetic writing spread to other parts of Mesoamerica where Nahua, Mixtec, Zapotec, and Maya scribes used it to write in their own languages petitions, will, claims, and other legal records associated with Iberian law.

During the sixteenth century, eight printers produced over 180 different books of various runs in the Viceroyalty of New Spain, the political jurisdiction built on the contours of the Mexica Empire. A majority of printed books centered on religious matter. They included catechisms, manuals for confession and the administration of sacraments, missals, religious chronicles, memories of religious congresses, sermons, hagiographies, pastoral letters, and autos de fe, transcriptions of inquisitorial courts where hundreds could be publicly tried at one time. Other types of works included treatises on mining, medicine, history, cosmography, agriculture, poetry, satire, and music. The following century, American-born Spaniards, known as criollos, took over the book printing industry in New Spain. During this period, about thirty printers made a over 1,800 different books, a number higher than the output of books produced in some major European cities.


Featured Collections

The Love Family Letters

The Love brothers - Cyrus, Samuel, James, John, and, eventually, Robert - fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War as part Terry's Texas Rangers and the 6th Texas Cavalry. They came from Tehuacana, Limestone County, Texas. The collection contains letters written by several sons in the Love family during the Civil War, offering a glimpse into life on the battlefield and at home. Many famous people and battles are referenced.
The Love Family Letters have been digitized and are available in our digital repository.

Tom B. Saunders Family Papers

The Saunders Family came to Fort Worth in 1902 and formed one of the strongest livestock businesses on Exchange Street. Administrative records, correspondence, and memorabilia document the Tom B. Saunders Company from 1899 to 1974. The collection includes material on other notable Texas trail drivers collected by the family. The family's Fort Worth Stock Show planning material is also included.
The Tom B. Saunders Family Papers have been digitized and are available in our digital repository.

Joseph Warren Hays Papers

Joseph Warren Hays was a pilot in the Army Air Corps during WWII. He served from January 1943 through November 1945. Hays flew missions over Europe in 1945 as a co-pilot of a B-24 Liberator with the 446th Bombardment Group. After the war, he returned to TCU to complete his degree in Economics. The collection includes a complete set of letters written by Joseph Warren Hays to his family while serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

Music/Media Collections

Cliburn Competition Archive

By an agreement concluded in 1991, the Van Cliburn Foundation transferred to Texas Christian University materials relating to the activities of the Foundation, together with the archives of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The professional Competition, first held in 1962, was created to commemorate Van Cliburn's sensational 1958 victory at the first Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Held at four-year intervals, the Competition offers a means by which the finest young concert pianists can perform before a global audience. The International Competition for Outstanding Amateurs now offers other accomplished pianists a worldwide stage.