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SPECIAL COLLECTIONS DIVISION, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT ARLINGTON LIBRARIES. The Special Collections Division of the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries is on the sixth floor of UTA's Central Library. Its holdings focus on Texas, with special emphasis on the North Texas area; the Mexican War; the political history of Mexico from 1810 to 1920; the cartographic history of Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Greater Southwest; and Texas labor history. As of 1994 the division holds 30,000 books, 7,000 historic maps, 6,500 linear feet of manuscripts, 1,600 atlases and school geographies, 750,000 photographs and negatives, and thousands of broadsides, graphics, and pieces of sheet music. Special Collections traces its history to 1967, when the UTA Library first began collecting manuscript and archival records. Spurred on by the efforts of George N. Green, a professor in the university's history department, the library became the first in the South and Southwest to systematically collect the records of Texas labor unions and officials. Green and his colleague Howard Lackman, also a history professor, served as the library's field agents, contacting each of the 2,500 local and regional unions in Texas about their historical records. A number of unions responded to this solicitation and, as a result, the Texas Labor Archives was established at UTA. Also in 1967 Green initiated an oral history program focusing on organized labor in Texas. In 1970 the collecting focus of the archives was expanded to include political collections and the historical records of the university.

In 1974 the Special Collections Department was established, but it was administered separately from the Texas Labor Archives. The department was established as a result of the donation of 10,000 books, documents, periodicals, manuscripts, and newspapers by Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins Garrett of Fort Worth. UTA constructed the Jenkins Garrett Library on the sixth floor of the Central Library to house the Garretts' gift. This gift helped to define the collecting focus of Special Collections. For many years prior to their donation, the Garretts collected historical material relating to the history of Texas and the Mexican War, as well as maps depicting the cartographic history of Texas and the Greater Southwest. Since the Garretts' original gift, the division has continued to collect in these areas. In 1976 Malcolm D. McLean joined UTA as a professor of history and Spanish and as a staff member of Special Collections. With him came the historically rich papers of Sterling Clack Robertson and his family and the publication of Papers Concerning Robertson's Colony in Texas, a nineteen-volume series (1974–93). McLean compiled and edited the series until his retirement in 1992. The volumes include the documents in the Robertson Colonyqv Collection relating to empresario Robertson. Special Collections also has extensive personal papers from Robertson's son, Elijah Sterling Clack Robertson.

In 1978 the Cartographic History Library, another integral part of Special Collections, formally opened, providing research facilities for the division's collection of historical maps and atlases. The nucleus of the map collection was formed when Special Collections, through the support of local foundations and the Garretts, purchased the maps formerly of the Edward Eberstadt and Sons bookstore through Austin book dealer John H. Jenkins. In 1981 the library administration merged the Texas Labor Archives with Special Collections, making the new administrative unit into a division, and a few years later the Meso-American Center was also added. Since the early 1970s the Meso-American Center had conducted a number of microfilming projects in the Mexican state of Yucatan and Honduras. The microfilm from these projects is now located in the division and includes municipal, ecclesiastical, notary, and civil records spanning nearly four centuries of the history of Yucatan and Honduras. In 1994 the Special Collections Division had a full-time staff of ten and employed seven students a semester. The division offered photocopy and photographic services to its patrons and also published the Compass Rose, a newsletter, twice a year.

Gerald D. Saxon, ed., Special Collections at the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries: A Guide (University of Texas at Arlington, 1989).
Gerald D. Saxon

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Gerald D. Saxon, "Special Collections Division, University of Texas At Arlington Libraries," accessed October 16, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.