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The Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library is the University of Michigan's primary research collection for the humanities and social sciences. The Graduate Library collection numbers approximately 2.5 million volumes including 10,000 journals and periodical subscriptions written in several hundred languages and covering a broad array of subject specialities. In addition, these collections are supported by strong holdings in U.S. and foreign government publications, an outstanding collection of maps and related materials, a comprehensive collection of publications written in the language groups of East Asia, manuscripts and special collections, over 1.5 million items in microformat, and a strong collection of reference and bibliographic sources in print and machine-readable formats
The Special Collections Library is comprised of Papyrology, the Humanities Collection, the Labadie Collection of Social Protest Literature, and other rare books and archives in the arts, sciences, and social sciences.
Before the invention of the printing press, transmission of the word was the work of scribes copying by hand onto a variety of surfaces. One of the earliest and most satisfactory surfaces was papyrus. The Library's collection of over 7,000 inventory numbers and more than 10,000 individual fragments or papyri and other writing surfaces (parchment, wood, etc.), dating from 1000 B.C. to 1000 A.D., is the largest and most distinguished in the Western Hemisphere and one of the largest in the world. Although the papyri are chiefly documentary, there are important literary and biblical texts, most notably thirty leaves of the oldest (c. 200 A.D.) surviving manuscript of the Epistles of St. Paul. The Papyrology website provides public access not only to its papyrological collections but to many other papyrological resources as well. You can now search approximately 2,500 records(with images) in open-text format, as part of the University of Michigan's contribution to the Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS).
Later writings of the Middles Ages and Renaissance are represented by about 250 manuscripts written largely on vellum in Greek, Latin, Coptic, Hebrew, Ethiopic, Armenian, and Syriac. Many are biblical texts which are complemented by important, early printed editions of the Bible tracing the history of the English text until the King James Version was adopted in 1611. There are also some 450 incunabula, or specimens of the earliest examples of printing using moveable-type, dating from 1456 to 1500. In the 1920s the University Library acquired a large number of manuscripts written in Arabic, Turkish, and Persian from the library of Sultan Abdul Hamid. These have become the nucleus of an outstanding Islamic manuscript collection now exceeding 1100 in number and covering topics such as religion, law, history, literature, and mathematics.
The Labadie Collection was established in 1911 when Joseph Labadie, a prominent Detroit anarchist, donated his library to the University of Michigan. Although the Collection was originally concerned mainly with anarchist materials, its scope was later widened considerably to include a great variety of social protest literature together with political views from both the extreme left and the extreme right. Materials are now collected from all parts of the world. In addition to anarchism, the Collection's strengths include: civil liberties (with an emphases on racial minorities), socialism, communism, colonialism and imperialism, American labor history through the 1930s, the IWW, the Spanish Civil War, sexual freedom, women's liberation, gay liberation, the underground press, and student protest, and American reactions to the Greek Junta (see Pyrros Papers). Although the Labadie Collection contains 35,000 books and 8,000 periodicals), it is justly famous for its ephemera: brochures, leaflets, clippings, reprints, posters, photographs, cartoons, sheet music, buttons, bumper stickers, and armbands. In 1999, under the auspices of the University of Michigan Digital Library Initiative, its rich collection of photographs was digitized and mounted on the web. They may be viewed via a link on the Special Collections Library's main page. Cataloged monographs, serials, pamphlets, and archival collections may be found in the University Library's on-line catalog, MIRLYN. Uncataloged materials will not be found in the on-line catalog. Local card indexes and databases havebeen compiled as keys, however. Resources within the Labadie Collection are available to any interested users.