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Sibelius Collection

Rare Books and Special Collections


COVID-19 Statement - April 2020

August 2020

Special Collections is operating on a limited appointment-only basis due to the measures being taken by Butler University and the state government to limit the spread of COVID-19. This policy will allow for proper social distancing within our space while also allowing us to work from home periodically to limit exposure.

We will continue to answer reference queries via email and phone from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday.  Queries that require accessing physical materials in the archives will be answered as soon as possible depending on staffing on-site.

Appointments need to be made at least 24 hours in advance. Please contact us to request a time to come in and view materials. Our contact information is:

Appointments will be available during the following hours:

  • Monday & Tuesday, 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Wednesday & Thursday, 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM
  • Friday, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

For individuals not associated with Butler University, please contact us for University safety protocols that must be followed while on campus.

Please be advised that reference services could be disrupted further. We apologize in advance for the inconvenience.

For more information on services and policies offered by Butler Universities Libraries during this time, please refer to the latest update. For more information on COVID-19, please check out this Butler University Libraries LibGuide.


Please visit the updated website for Special Collections & University Archives; the following content remains here for Butler site search purposes

The department of Special Collections, Rare Books, and University Archives actively works to preserve the history of Butler University as well as supporting faculty teaching and student research.

The Rare Books collection contains items dating as far back as 1473. Some collecting strengths include South Pacific peoples and cultures during the 18th and early 19th centuries (William F. Charters South Seas Collection), Madame de Stael (Esther A. Renfrew Paddock Collection), early educational materials (Dellinger Education Collection), herbology and botanists, and Native Americans. In addition, the department’s reference section contains information on Butler University history, the local history of Indianapolis and Indiana, rare book history and fine bindings, and archives management.

Special Collections contains many unique and informative collections. Some names and topics of interest include Eliza A. Blaker (founder of the Teachers College of Indianapolis which later became the Butler University College of Education), Etheridge Knight (African American poet from Indianapolis), Butler-Tarkington Neighborhood Association, Jean Sibelius (Finnish composer), Kin Hubbard and Gaar Williams (American cartoonists), Abraham Lincoln, Booth Tarkington (Hoosier author), Tony Hinkle (well-known Butler University athletic coach), Irvington Athenaeum, and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority.

Special Collections also has many collections that help document the history of Butler University, such as diaries, personal papers, and scrapbooks from students, faculty, and community members. In addition, Special Collections holds select Butler University faculty and administrative materials that include personal, research, and teaching papers. Some names include Hilton U. Brown, Elijah Jordan, Rosemary Lang, Catharine Merrill, John E. Potzger, Michael Schelle, Allegra Stewart, Emma Lou Thornbrough, and Alice Bidwell Wesenberg.

University Archives documents and preserves the history and records of Butler University. Materials within this institutional archive were created by or for Butler University, specifically those relating to the institution's operations and history. The collection is a combination of official institutional records and correspondence, student and alumni organizational records and ephemera, institutional publications, and research collections maintained by the department. Some frequently used resources and collections include academic bulletins and catalogs, alumni directories, The Butler Alumnal Quarterly (know published as the Butler Magazine), The Butler Collegian (student-run newspaper), the Drift (yearbook), the Butler University Buildings and Grounds Collection (which includes text, visual images, and select architectural plans), and the Butler University Biographical Files Collection.