Do you want to use Special Collections materials in your classroom? This page offers links to interesting, accessible collections that promote hands-on exploration of archives and rare books, as well as research guides and other teaching resources.
Our Research Guides
Collections for the Classroom
Ancient and Medieval Coin Collection
The collection was donated in 2008 by R. Timothy and Sandra Russell of Foley, Alabama. The University Libraries received the seventeen coins to facilitate teaching and to engage students directly with rare materials. The donation was championed by Dr. James Mixson, professor of history, and Dr. Kirk Summers, professor of classics, in order to enhance instruction in ancient and medieval history, mythology, and religion.
Unlike American coins, whose types remain static over long periods of time, ancient coins often changed from year to year and mint to mint. They reflected immediate social and religious concerns, served as a propaganda tool for politicians, and told of momentous historical events. The coins in the collection reflect these shifts and date from between 700 BCE and 1339 CE.
German Manuscript Facsimiles
The Division of Special Collections acquired eight German manuscript facsimiles in 2014 with gift funds donated by Susan Tolbert in memory of her late husband, Dr. Lakey Tolbert. The reproductions are based on German manuscripts from the fourteenth century and were acquired for students of History and Modern Languages to use in their course work.
Students are able to read the text, see how the documents were bound, touch the printing material, and study illustrations and illuminations from the time period.
- Das Nibelungenlied
- Tschachtlans Bilderchronik
- Liber Fundatorum Zwetlensis Monasterii
- Weltchronik / Karl der Grosse
- Chronik des Konzils zu Konstanz
- Diebold Schillings Spiezer Bilderchronik
- Die Sächsische Weltchronik
- Die Ottheinrich-Bibel
Publisher’s Bindings Online (PBO)
This joint project with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries, funded by a National Leadership grant from Institute for Museum and Library Studies (IMLS), facilitated creation of a digital portal to understanding the art and historical significance of late 19th to early 20th century decorative binding. These books feature printed, embossed, or gilded decoration that reflected the graphic styles of the day.
The PBO website has a special section of teaching resources, with tutorials and lesson plans involving these materials. While all items can be examined online, those from UA Libraries are part of the Richard Minsky Collection, which is housed in the Hoole Library reading room and available for use.
The Selesky Collection contains over 3400 comic books, most of them from the Bronze Age (early 1970s to mid-1980s). During this period, the strict rules of the Comics Code Authority gave way to stories that explored important social issues of the day, which can be seen in both the subject matter of the narratives themselves and the way they were illustrated. Superhero comics, especially from Marvel and to a lesser extent DC, are heavily featured in the collection, but it also contains a large number of children’s titles and some important non-fiction comics from the 1950s and 1960s.
The Sneed Collection contains over 3600 comic books, from the Bronze and Modern Ages. The move toward more mature subject matter continued into the late 1980s and 1990s, when even darker storylines predominated. The collection’s strengths are classic literature, movie, and television adaptations; genres such as science-fiction, fantasy, and horror; history-related titles, from historical stories to alternate histories; and non-fiction. It is especially strong in adaptations of the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and comics abut war (usually WWI or WWII).
Comics make good teaching tools for many reasons. They are products of a particular time and place, providing students of history and culture an alternative resource for research. They can also be studied as literary and artistic products or serve as sites for practicing critical reading and visual analysis skills.
David Walker Lupton African American Cookbook Collection
The collection was donated in honor of Lupton, who brought these items together through intensive effort over a period of ten years. It contains more than 450 cookbooks from African American cooks, dating back to 1827, making it one of the largest collections of its kind. The collection allows users to explore aspects of the relationship between food and African American history and culture.
Culinary texts yield far more than recipes when closely scrutinized, making them a rich source of information for a variety of academic disciplines. They are written from the point of view of an individual or a community and, as such, have much to say about ethnic identity, family and community life, social history, the roles of women and men, values, religion, and economics, as well as the more obvious fields of diet and nutrition, use of agricultural products, the food supply, and general food history.
From the National Archives
- Primary Source Research & Classroom Resources – Tools for getting started using primary sources in the classroom, including lessons plans for various periods in American history
- DocsTeach – Online tool for teaching with documents, including primary source sets and activities for various educational levels
From the Library of Congress
- Education Resources – A variety of educational tools, including lesson plans and primary source sets, and a link to the blog Teaching with the Library of Congress
- Using Primary Sources – A guide to why and how to use primary sources in the classroom
From other sources
- Primary Source Sets – Curated by the Digital Public Library of America from a wide range of collections, they are broken down by subject and are accompanied by a teaching guide with discussion questions
- TeachArchives.org – Offers pedagogical theory for analyzing historical documents as well as exercises to use in the classroom