From Chaucer to Star Wars, the Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection is comprised of more than 34,000 rare items, spanning 40 centuries, that are unique in size (some small enough to fit in the palm of your hand), format, fragility, age and controversial subjects.

Collections of note

A hand colored print of a branch from a cherry tree with six ripe cherries and small drawings at the bottom of the inside of the cherry, the bloom, and the seed. This page is from a French herbal titled Flore Médicale published between 1814-1820.

Doris and Marc Patten Herbal Collection

A collection of books with illustrations documenting the history of plant medicinal use, gardening techniques and the field of botany from 1485-1935.

Color woodblock print of a William Morris designed wallpaper with green branches, small white and brown flowers and lemons; this design is known as the Fruit Pattern.

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Collection

Featuring every book published by the Kelmscott Press, original correspondence of Dante Gabriel and William Michael Rossetti, and wallpaper and fabric samples designed by William Morris. The Nicholas A. Salerno Literary Papers contain resources on Pre-Raphaelites and Victorian-era authors, artists and poets, and the publisher Thomas Bird Mosher.

The black and white title page for Volume I of the first edition of The Federalist : "A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, Agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787", in two volumes, published in 1788.

Civic Classics Collection

First editions, some inscribed, of classic works of leadership in America’s civic and political life – including The Federalist (1788) and writings by Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Created through a partnership between the School of Civic & Economic Thought and Leadership and ASU Library, with funds by a special appropriation from the Arizona government.

A color photograph of an extension of the first three overlapping pages of the artist’s book "Ode to a Grand Staircase (for Four Hands)", designed by Julie Chen and Barbara Tentenbaum. The design includes: random straight and curved lines and colored circles in varying shades of orange, blue and green and the words "Ode to a Grand Staircase" on the page on the left and "to leave his room" on the page on the right.

Artist Books

Small-print publications created as works of art, exemplifying the importance of collaboration between writer, artist, papermaker and printer.

A box with separate compartments for twelve small plastic action figures resembling the actors and wearing clothing their characters wore in various scenes in the original Star Wars trilogy ("Star Wars: The New Hope", "The Empire Strikes Back", and "The Return of the Jedi"). Included are figures for the following characters: Lando Calrissian, Logray, Luke Skywalker, Lobot, Nien Nunb, and Nikto. This is a picture of the contents of Box 26 of the Star Wars Collection.

The Nicholas A. Salerno Star Wars Collection

Publicity materials and merchandising products from 1976 through 2005, mostly documenting the original three Star Wars films.

A color photograph with side-by-side headshots of William Burroughs (on left) and George Condo (on right). The pictures have been warped so they appear to be small blocks of color forming the large picture. This is the cover of a joint exhibit between these two artists.

Twentieth Century Authors

Featuring the personal papers of William Burroughs, Rubén Darío and Alan Dean Foster.

A color photograph of the opened three-dimensional pop-up page for the Queen’s Croquet Game with a large text block on the bottom, surrounded by four raised sides with a garden scene with trees and grass and a large cat head at center top. This is one scene from the book "Alice’s Pop-Up Wonderland: Make Alice’s Dream World Come to Life!" created by Nick Denchfield and Alex Vining.

Eugene D. Valentine Pop-Up Book Collection

Over 600 toy and movable books in different formats and on different subjects, created for both children and adult audiences.

Black and white publicity photograph of two men dressed in white shirts, dark sport coats, and ties. On the right is actor Dustin Hoffman; on the left is Phoenix film critic and television host Nicholas A. Salerno.

Performing Arts Collections

The personal papers of actor Peter Lawford and film columnist Jimmy Starr are among several collections documenting the history of American film, theatre and television.


Julie Tanaka
Associate Librarian


Access the collection

To view materials in this collection, please make an appointment at least five business days prior to your visit by contacting Ask an Archivist or calling (480) 965-4932.

Appointments in the Wurzburger Reading Room at Hayden Library (rm. 138) on the Tempe campus are available Monday through Friday. Check the ASU Library Hours page for current availability.