The Samford University Special Collection department (SC) was officially formed in 1955. When the present campus was being built, an area of the new library was set aside where the department could reside.
By 1957, the SC held 1,385 items. Today the collection has grown to include over 13,880 sets of records; with the size of a single collection ranging anywhere between a single folder to 100 boxes of material. In addition, the collection now houses more than 39,000 volumes of printed materials.
The department has three primary focuses for the collection;
- Collect, preserve and share the story of Samford University with materials going back before the founding of the institution in 1841, then known as Howard College, up through the present day.
- Serve as the repository for Alabama Baptists. Baptist records at Samford can be traced back nearly a century. However, the university didn’t enter into an official agreement with the Baptists of Alabama until 1953. By 1956, the collection consisted of 263 church records and 183 associational records. Today the collection houses over 5,900 different collections related to Baptist history.
- Collect Alabama resources documenting the social, family, cultural, and religious history of the state.
In addition to the above, the department houses Irish materials, rare books, and the literary collections of Alfred Lord Tennyson, John Ruskin, John Masefield, and Lafcadio Hearn.
The types of materials housed in the collection include newspapers, periodicals, books, diaries, correspondence files, oral histories, manuscripts, official records, videos, dissertations, photographs and audio recordings.
This past year, material from the collection has been used in books, dissertations, film documentaries and, most importantly, the research papers of Samford students.
The Special Collection Department is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.