Located on Irwin Library's 3rd floor, the department of Special Collections, Rare Books, and University Archives (known generally as Special Collections) occupies the Hugh Thomas Miller Rare Books Room, a space that both houses collections and offers a quiet secure environment for their use by researchers.
Available for use in the department's space are early and rare books, as well as manuscripts, prints, maps, classical and popular music scores, newspapers, and memorabilia, in all fields of liberal arts and sciences, education, pharmacy, and the fine and performing arts. The William F. Charters South Seas Collection and the Madame de Staël Collection, described in the links below, are two of the significant collections. The rare books collection dates back to 1473.
Miller (1867-1948) was one of Butler University's most notable alumni, faculty members, and benefactors. He was president of the Irwin-Union Trust Company and the Cummins Engine Company in Columbus, Indiana, and he was elected lieutenant governor of Indiana in 1904. For nearly fifty years he served on the Board of Trustees of Butler University.
In 1889 Miller joined the Butler faculty as professor of history and romance languages. He recognized the central role of an academic library in the process of education and was responsible for the marked growth of the university's collections during his years on the faculty (1889-99). He also introduced the then very modern practice of cross-referencing for all Butler library collections.
Collection strengths include such areas as: South Pacific Islands during the 18th and early 19th centuries, herbology and botanists, Native Americans, American authors in first editions (many of them signed), African American poets, American westward expansion, American natural history, and early educational materials.