Lehigh's Special Collections encompasses a rare book collection of over 25,000 volumes, with first editions of English and American literature from the 17th to the 19th centuries, strengths in travel and exploration, natural history and ornithology, and works of historical significance in science and technology.
Highlights include John James Audubon's Birds of America (4 vols., London,1827-1838); a complete collection of first and early editions of Charles Darwin's writings, including corrected page proofs for On the Origin of Species (London, 1859); part-issue copies of the works of several Victorian novelists, including Charles Dickens; important early printed editions of Geoffrey Chaucer's works, and all four folio editions of Shakespeare's plays. An electronic version of the Lehigh copy of Copernicus' De Revolutionibus (Nuremberg, 1543) appears in the digital project The Problem of the Planets
The Lehigh Collection contains documents and publications of the University, papers of faculty members, and memorabilia from the University's history. In addition, Special Collections is the repository for Lehigh theses and dissertations.
Electronic versions of some of the Lehigh Histories and a guide to the Lehigh History Resources are available at here: http://www.lehigh.edu/library/speccoll/history.html
The over 15,000 photographic images in the Lehigh Collection are comprehensively indexed in a computer database. We are currently working on an online database. The collection also contains an architectural slide collection and historic engineering photographs.
The holdings in the history of technology concentrate on large scale construction, including a number of classic and seminal works on bridge building and design, and construction with iron and steel. Selected holdings appear in Digital Bridges, a digital library of thirty important 19th century American bridge building books. Another focus of the collection is mining and metallurgy, featuring such titles as Agricola's De Re Metallica (Basel, 1556). The collection in the history of technology is being actively increased.
Special Collections holds manuscripts and personal papers, in addition to papers relating to the University's history. Frequently consulted collections include the papers of Les Whitten, successful novelist and Watergate-era investigative reporter; the Congressional papers of Francis E. Walter; and the papers of the presidents of Lehigh University. In December, 2005, Lehigh acquired the Philip I. and Muriel M Berman Archives (see LTS News article).