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What You Can Find at the Archives: Our Collections

The Brooklyn College Archives and Special Collections seeks to document the rich history of Brooklyn College through collecting and preserving departmental records and the papers of faculty and alumni.  Other major areas of collection include Brooklyniana, the Historic Manuscript Collection, the Rare Book Collection, the Robert L. Hess Collection on Ethiopia & the Horn of Africa, and the Stuart Schaar Collection on the Middle East and North Africa.

The Archives also creates online and in-house exhibits that highlight the gems in our collections. For more our exhibits, please check the exhibitions page.

An Institutional Archive

Brooklyn College: A Rich and Storied History  

The majority of our holdings document the history of Brooklyn College. This includes official reports and publications, student newspapers, departmental records, yearbooks, artifacts and photographs.  

The papers of noted faculty and alumni including Procope Costas (Classics), Alfred McClung Lee (Sociology), Sam Levenson, and William Alfred are housed in the Archives as well.


YWCA cooking class, 1911​Brooklyniana: Brooklyn History and Politics

As part of our effort to document the borough of Brooklyn, the Archives has amassed photographic collections, community and county histories, a sizeable map collection, and the papers of noted Brooklyn legislators and civic leaders.

Collections include the Papers of Reverend William Augustus Jones, civil rights leader and pastor of Bethany Baptist Church; the Papers of Peter McGuiness, a Greenpoint politician; and the Records of the Brooklyn YWCA.  The YWCA opened its doors in 1888, and for over 125 years it has provided the women and young girls of Brooklyn opportunities for learning and recreation. The collection was processed and opened to the public through a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Historic Manuscripts

Historic Manuscripts: Papers and Pugilists

The Historic Manuscript Collection contains the papers and memorabilia of individuals of national and social importance including the papers of child psychologist Dr. Lauretta Bender, mountaineer Annie Peck Smith, and Civil War soldier Captain James M. Pettit.  

Brooklyn College has also amassed many boxing related manuscript collections including the Hank Kaplan Boxing Archive.

Book Collections

Rare Book Collection

There are about two thousand volumes of rare books housed in the Archives. This collection includes titles of significant literary, historical, geographical, and scientific value.

The Robert L. Hess Collection on Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa 

Robert L. Hess, a noted scholar of Ethiopian History, served as Brooklyn College President from 1979-1992.  This collection of over 5,000 rare and out of print  books and journals includes the memoirs of Italian colonial officials and soldiers, linguistic texts, travel accounts and histories.  For more information, please visit the Hess Collection page.

The Stuart Schaar Collection on the Middle East and North Africa

Upon retiring from Brooklyn College, Professor Schaar of the History Department donated his book collection and personal papers to the Library.   His collection consists of approximately 4,000 books and periodicals and 77 boxes of manuscript material. The collection also includes a large number of diverse and eclectic works of art from  the region.  

Digital Collections

Primary Sources on the Web

Visit our CUNY Academic Works page to view digitized photographs and documents depicting Brooklyn College’s early history, student activities, Country Fair, famous alum William Alfred, and the Farm Labor Project.  

Brooklyn College's NYC Heritage Digital Collections page contains Brooklyn Democratic Party Scrapbooks and BC Student Handbills. These digitization projects were supported in part by funds from the Metropolitan Library Council (METRO) through the New York State Regional Bibliographic Databases Program.  



Information for Donors

The Brooklyn College Archives and Special Collections documents the history of Brooklyn College and the borough of Brooklyn. Donations of materials within the scope of our collection policy are welcome. If you are considering donating items to the archives please contact Colleen Bradley-Sanders, the College Archivist.

Monetary Donation

Make a secure one-time donation to the Brooklyn College Foundation to support the preservation of Brooklyn College and Brooklyn history by visiting Support the Brooklyn College Foundation. Within Fund Designation, please specify #31205594. For Additional Comments or Questions Relating to This Donation, please specify how you would like your funds to be used in Special Collections (i.e. preserving a specific collection, restoring books our Rare Books, or to help process the collections from Brooklyn College departments, faculty, or alumni).

You can also mail a check or money order payable to: THE BROOKLYN COLLEGE FOUNDATION, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210-2889.

Please specify Fund #31205594 in the memo line of the check.