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UC Berkeley Library
History Room

Special Collections


The Bancroft Library holds extraordinary collections of original documents reflecting the history of Mexico and Central America. Included in the collection is a remarkable cache of 61 volumes of Mexican Inquisition manuscript records covering the years 1593-1817. The documents in this collection, the equivalent of legal case files, contain a wealth of social information, including genealogical lists, records of property, and the most minute details of personal evidence.

EAL Stacks

The East Asian Library (EAL) contains one of the most comprehensive collections of materials in the East Asian Languages in the United States. Its collection is particularly distinguished by rare editions of early manuscripts, scrolls, woodblock and engraved maps, stone rubbings and bronze inscriptions. Notable are the Ho-Chiang Collection of Buddhist scriptures documenting the evolution of Buddhist works in China, Japan, and Korea; the 100,000 volume Mitsui Library including a collection of Chinese rubbings considered the second most important of its kind in the Western world; and the Asami Library containing 4,000 volumes of classical Korean imprints, including Haedong kayo, the finest surviving manuscript of an early eighteenth-century anthology of Korean poetry compiled by Kim Su-jang.

West Chamber Story

This painting on silk with accompanying calligraphy on rice paper depicts the rescue by the White Horse General Tu in the West Chamber Story, a Chinese song tale, by Tung Chieh-yuan (Master Tung fl. 1189-1208).

Daguerreotype of dog

Daguerreotype of dog owned by Sheldon K. Nichols 1852-53.
The Bancroft Library Pictorial Collection, comprising an estimated 2.8 million items in a variety of media and illustrates the history of California and the American West. Contained in the collection are 19th-century photographic images of California cities and towns, including the first pictures ever made of San Francisco, Monterey, and countless other locations along the Pacific coast and Hawaii; the work of such famous photographers, as Eadweard Muybridge, Dorothea Lange, and Ansel Adams; and examples of early photographic processes, including daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and stereographic views. Non-photographic images are also well represented in the collection. The Robert B. Honeyman Collection features original works, such as drawings and paintings, as well as printed images, lithographs, engravings, and woodcuts.


The Library's primary collection of maps and other cartographic materials is located in the Earth Sciences & Map Library. Other campus collections include The Bancroft Library's historical maps of California and western North America, the East Asian Library's historical maps of Japan and gazetteers of East Asia, and the Water Resources Center Archives' extensive collection of historical and current maps related to water, as well as a collection of coastal aerial photographs.


TThe Marian E. Koshland Biosciences and Natural Resources Library has several special collections including a fine set of old and rare cookbooks, the Rudy Grah Agroforestry Collection, the Kofoid Pamphlets on Botany and Zoology, and more than 7,000 rare books. Among these rare items in the collection is the title shown here, "The Zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, under the command of Captain Fitzroy, R.N., during the years 1832 to 1836," edited and superintended by Charles Darwin Esq. 1839-1843.

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