About Archives and Special Collections

The Archives and Special Collections (ASC) Team is committed to acquiring, preserving and providing access to select special collections and archives, including rare and unique materials in all media formats, in order to support the teaching and research missions of the University.  It also supports the records management operations of the University, including preserving and providing access to University records of enduring value.  While the primary focus is on facilitating research by undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members, and external scholars, as well as documenting the history of the University, it also engages with and welcomes use of the archives and special collections by members of the broader community. 

For general inquiries, email archives.services@uwo.ca or call 519-661-4046 (or ext. 84046).

Membership and Structure

ASC comprises everyone directly involved in providing services or developing and maintaining archives, rare books, and other types of special collections, as well as supporting University records management.

The work of ASC is undertaken by two operational teams: Services and Collections. The Services Team has primary responsibility for all “front facing” activities, including reference services, instruction, outreach and exhibits. The Collections Team is primarily responsible for acquiring, processing, preserving and supporting discovery and access to archival and special collections holdings as well as supporting digitization and digital preservation. 

Archival Records

Archives includes all fonds and collections, including both university and private records, but not rare books, local history monographs and maps – see “Special Collections”, below.

Archivists are responsible for all aspects of archival practice including: acquisition and appraisal, arrangement and description, preservation, reference service and research consultations, instruction and outreach.

For more information about specific fonds and collections held by the archives, see Finding Archival Material.

Special Collections

The James Alexander and Ellen Rea Benson Special Collections include rare books, monographs, and serials with a particular emphasis on the history of southwestern Ontario, particularly London and Middlesex County, the history of science and medicine, Canadian literature and history, Ontario private and small presses, Canadian travel and voyages, Ontario textbooks, the history of aviation, and Milton and Miltoniana. Major collections include:

  • The Dr. James Good Collection of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • The G. William Stuart Jr. Collection of Milton and Miltoniana
  • The Hannah Collection on the History of Science and Medicine
  • The Beatrice Hitchins Memorial Collection of Aviation History
  • The J.J. Talman Regional Collection
  • The H.G. Wells Collection
  • Canadian Voyages and Travel Collection to 1900
  • The Dr. Eddy Smet Collection of Comic Books

The Serge A. Sauer Map Collection provides a comprehensive print and digital collection of world-wide coverage comprised of general and thematic, small and large scale maps; national, provincial or state, regional, and thematic atlases and related geographical materials. However, emphasis is placed on Canada, particularly Ontario and the Great Lakes. Although the main prominence is on contemporary publications, material portraying historical periods is also collected as appropriate. In addition to the large collection of maps (approximately 230,000 sheets) there are: atlases, air photos and globes (various Earth, Moon and other planets). While English is the primary language of the collection, maps and atlases are produced in the national language(s) of the countries in which they are published, many languages are collected.

Acquisition and Appraisal

University records with enduring value are routinely added to the Archives’ holdings.

In addition, Archives and Special Collections encourages donations to its holdings. Donations may be accepted from affiliated institutions and campus organizations, faculty members, as well as local organizations, individuals, and families. Archivists and Librarians work with donors to appraise their offered donation, to identify material of potential value and to assist in the preparation and transfer of materials.

Donors must sign a deed of gift-in-kind, which transfers title and copyright (where applicable) to The University of Western Ontario (Western University). The deed specifies terms governing access and use of the donated materials identifying specific restriction where merited. Donations of private or personal papers, maps or rare books may be eligible for a tax receipt issued through Western’s Advancement Services.

If you are interested in donating, please contact us by telephone (519 661-4046) or email.

Research and Instructional Support

Archives and Special Collections provides a variety of research and reference services to faculty, staff, students, alumni, researchers and the public. Faculty members can also arrange to have ASC staff assist them to prepare and conduct classes or assignments using Archives and Special Collections' resources.

If you are interested in research and instructional support, please contact us by telephone (519 661-4046) or email.