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Albert S. Cook Library

Special Collections and University Archives

Learn what special collections and university archives are, what we hold, and how to access the collections

Assistant University Librarian for Special Collection and University Archives

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Ashley Todd-Diaz
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(410) 704-2398

SCUA Staff


We hold one-of-a-kind primary sources and historic materials. We are open to all TU community members, as well as researchers around the world.


Towson University Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) collects, preserves, and shares documents, photographs, and artifacts of permanent, historical value produced or received by TU.

Our department offers:


Special Collections are different than University Archives, although they are both part of the same department and do have some things in common. Both special collections and archives have unique historical materials, including books, letters, oral histories, videos, memos, audio recordings, photographs, and even artwork. These materials shed light on the individual viewpoint of their creators.


What's the difference?

What are Special Collections?

These collections are unique and historic, but not directly connected to the everyday work of Towson University. They might be about art, historic events, or personal histories. Our special collections include materials from community members and faculty and alumni of the school, but may not be directly related to the school. 

What are University Archives?

Our archives are directly related to the history of Towson University, dating back to 1866. They include records from departments, staff, and faculty documenting their work at the school. These records are no longer used by their original departments, and have been moved to the archives for organization, safe storage, and reference.

Primary Sources

Special collections and archives have very different materials from other areas of the library. When you are looking for information in SCUA, be prepared to view primary sources.

Primary sources are materials that were not created to inform or help teach. This means you will not find scholarly articles, encyclopedias, textbooks, or other published resources. Instead you will find items like photographs, personal letters, memos and meeting minuets, event fliers, sculptures, artworks, blueprints, music scores, and other one-of-a-kind objects.

Primary sources are incomplete pieces of history. As students, researchers, and scholars, it is up to you to examine the materials, think about your personal response, and ask questions about its source, creator, and context.


Collecting Areas

Special collections and archives have collecting areas. These are subjects the institution focuses on when finding materials to add to their collections. We have five primary collecting areas:

University History

Records that provide information about the history, development, and social life of the Towson University community.

Jewish Studies

Materials about Jewish culture and religion within the including:

Performing Arts

Collections about performing arts, especially local performing arts and materials about student, faculty, and alumni specializing in theatre, music, and dance.

World War II

Collections about World War II, including:

  • soldiers’ experiences
  • the home front
  • the Nuremburg Trials
  • the Holocaust

History of Education in Maryland

Collections about the development of public K-12 education in Maryland.

Using Historic Materials

In these historic archives, you may encounter words, images or other language used that were reflective of the tenor of our nation, and thus university, at that time in history. Those images may be disturbing and offensive, as they reflect the prejudice of the time. However, they do not reflect Towson University’s values and our commitment toward building a welcoming, diverse and inclusive campus that supports all the members of our community to thrive, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or levels of ableness.

We're Here to Help Your Research!

Students using SCUA materials for class research.