A University at Buffalo Libraries Special Collection, the Poetry Collection is the library of record for 20th- and 21st-century poetry in English. Founded in 1937 by Charles Abbott, the Poetry Collection now holds one of the world’s largest collections of poetry first editions and other titles, little literary magazines, broadsides and anthologies; a substantial collection of artworks; and more than 150 archives and manuscript collections from a wide range of poets, presses, magazines and organizations.
Finding materials in the Poetry Collection
You can search for items in the Poetry Collection in 3 ways: Finding Aids, Library Catalog, and the Manuscript Database.
A finding aid is a document created by archivists that provides a description of the contents of archival collections, similar to the way a table of contents outlines the subject matter of a book. In archival research, the finding aid is perhaps the most useful point of access to a collection.
By using a finding aid, a researcher gains an understanding of a collection as a whole, sees the relationships between its different parts, and locates portions of the collection important to their research.
Finding aids usually include narrative portions that describe the history of the collection as well as how the collection is arranged and a container list of the collection’s contents. Other things researchers can learn from finding aids include the size of the collection; key search terms; additional biographical or historical information about the main topic of the collection; and sometimes other collections that may be of related interest.
The University Archives and The Poetry Collection provide access to our finding aids through our website. You can search by keyword and browse all finding aids here: http://library.buffalo.edu/archives/
This is a snapshot of the collection overview from the finding aid for the James Joyce Collection which is located in The Poetry Collection.
This is the container list from the finding aid for the James Joyce Collection. The container list provides a brief description of the contents of each folder as well as the dates of the material.
Special Collections encourages researchers to explore the appropriate finding aid to become familiar with any collection you want to access before your visit.
When searching for items in Special Collections (University Archives, the Poetry Collection, or the Rare and Special Books Collection), it’s helpful to fine-tune your search in the online catalog. A search for the poet William Carlos Williams will return over 1,500 results, most of which are not held in Special Collections:
Limiting your search to the Special Collections location—and adding other filters, such as “Collection” and “Format”—will make it easier to find what you’re looking for:
Remember that limiting your search by year of publication / creation will help when searching historical collections. You can add all of these filters in the Advanced Search tab from the catalog home page:
If you know you want to limit your search to the Poetry Collection, you can start right from our homepage, http://library.buffalo.edu/pl/. This will automatically apply the location filter for you. You can limit your search to manuscript collections or finding aids:
You can also search or browse our manuscripts database:
Using Poetry Materials
Because of their uniqueness, Poetry Collection materials require special handling. Reading Room attendants may ask that a book cradle or supports are used or gloves worn when viewing items. No food or drink is allowed in the Reading Room, and permission is required to take images of collection materials. Before visiting the Poetry Collection, patrons should familiarize themselves with department policies at http://library.buffalo.edu/specialcollections/about/policies/.
Location: 420 Silverman Library, Capen Hall
Hours: Monday thru Friday, 9:00 to 5:00