Public Affairs, The California State University

Explore History and Research at CSU Libraries

By Elizabeth Chapin

Documents, letters, notes, pictures, books and personal accounts located in the CSU Dominguez Hills University library collectively tell the story of the CSU system. Since 1979, Archives and Special Collections at CSUDH have been home to the CSU archives.

From the minutes of the Academic Senate, to tapes containing oral historical interviews, to the personal papers of Chancellor Glenn Dumke—any item with systemwide significance is likely to be found here. The CSU archive has a high research value since it preserves the processes and policies that created what is now the largest four-year university system in the country.

“The CSU archives are definitely the premier archive for a university system in the U.S. and important to the history of higher education,” said CSU Archivist Greg Williams. “And in a broader sense they cover California history… how policy relating to social issues was created.”

Williams and his counterparts throughout the CSU maintain their own campus’ historical archives, as well as special collections: one of a kind repositories of original and rare research materials.

CSU libraries house hundreds of prized special collections, many of them documenting local history, including congressional papers of area lawmakers. Some collections start with a donation, while others are the result of research led by dedicated faculty.

With such a strong and varied library of special collections throughout the CSU system, it is no wonder that researchers around the world refer to them. As collections begin to go digital, those who are curious can gain easy access.

In 2007, the CSU created a Directory of Special Collections that contributes to the systemwide goals of supporting scholarly research and increasing access.

Here are some highlights of the fascinating collections throughout the CSU.