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About MASC

The Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC), located on Terrell Library’s ground floor, acquires and preserves rare and unique items related to Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest.  

We have historical records and documents, such as manuscripts, photographs, audio and video tapes, films, books, maps and other printed and published materials. 

The university archives include WSU theses and dissertations, yearbooks, student newspapers, and other documents from WSU presidents, employees, departments, and colleges. 

Hours: We are open Monday–Friday, 8:30-4:30.

P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA 99164-5610


Access to material is either by means of the Libraries’ online discovery system, Search It, or the special catalogs, guides, indexes, and registers maintained both online and within MASC itself. The location indicator “MASC” preceding a call number indicates that the item is located in Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections. The staff of the MASC will be pleased to provide assistance in interpreting both the resources and the use of these access tools and collections. See Guidelines on Access Services for more information about access to the MASC’s collections. Please note: MASC materials do not circulate outside the unit’s research room, and only those bibliographic records whose location is indicated by “MASC” in the holdings (or location) section of the online catalog record are available for use in this unit. All qualified researchers may use the MASC’s collections.

Use of Resources

The use of the resources is confined to the Donald W. Bushaw Reference and Research room in the MASC suite, off the rotunda floor on the ground level of Holland and Terrell Libraries. Patrons must register with the attendant, take extreme care in handling the materials, maintain the order and arrangement of collections, and confine note taking to pencil rather than pen. Facilities are also available for laptop computers.

Requests to copy reasonable amounts of material are acceptable provided the copying neither damages the material nor infringes upon copyright or other restrictions placed on it. Facilities for the duplication of photographs and digital copying are also available within the MASC, but only for items from the MASC’s collections. Please see our reproduction policies for complete information regarding reprographic policies and price schedules.

MASC: Origins and Development

The creation of the current Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections (MASC) Department in Washington State University’s Holland and Terrell Libraries was envisioned in 1949 and fully established in 1977. In 1955 the “Manuscripts-Archives Department” was formed at the recommendation of the Holland Library Committee. The space allocated for this new unit was on the first floor of the then recently built Holland Library. The Manuscripts-Archives collection originally consisted of approximately 150,000 bound and unbound pieces, consisting of manuscripts, account books, various university records, and historical maps and photographs, including hundreds of thousands of items that were accessioned in bulk. This material was acquired from private sources, college, federal and state agencies, from gifts, and by purchase through the Friends of the Library as well as through appropriations from within the State College of Washington. The bound printed collections, consisting then of roughly 10,000 volumes, included a small number of incunabules and Aldines. Another notable early collection in the Manuscripts-Archives Department consists of Hispanic materials, chiefly books, periodicals, and manuscripts relating to the history and development of Hispanic America, with particular reference to Mexico. Also present were 18th and 19th century botanical books. In the 1950s and 1960s the Manuscripts-Archives Department continued to build on its strengths and to acquire materials that provided curricular support for the teaching and research mission of Washington State College, with special emphasis on resources relating to the history and development of the Pacific Northwest and the state of Washington in particular. By the mid-1960s the Department featured several categories of material:

  • Miscellaneous personal and family documents–diaries, letters, notebooks, etc.
  • Political papers of individuals connected with Washington State.
  • Business, industrial and agricultural organizations.
  • Papers relating to specific subject interests — the fur trade, construction of dams, Nez Perce Indians, etc.
  • General collections relating to the Northwest.
  • Literary Collections of Northwest authors.
  • Government documents (local, state, and national) relating to the Northwest
  • Papers of Washington State University Presidents and other university officials and departments.

During the 1960s a “Humanities Special Collections” division was formed in Holland Library but it was not an integral part of the Manuscripts-Archives Department. The collecting policies for this division were strictly focused on literature and the humanities, with an emphasis on acquiring materials that promoted academic research. By the mid-1970s the Humanities Special Collections division had accumulated valuable printed and manuscript collections, including a substantial amount of unpublished correspondence. The peculiarity of this arrangement within Holland Library — having two separate groups of manuscript collections — meant that discrete units in the same library system were responsible for administering collections of primary source material. The Humanities Special Collections division evolved and expanded its collecting scope. From initially acquiring chiefly printed material, e.g., collecting the literary works and 20th century British authors, it grew to include one of the most complete collections of original Edith Sitwell correspondence held in an archival repository. The librarian in charge of the Humanities Special Collections division was responsible for collecting resources to support the curriculum, especially within the English department. With the acquisition of the personal library of Leonard and Virginia Woolf in 1969, and following other purchases which augmented this core collection of books, the Humanities and Special Collections division expanded considerably.

High points in this body of literary collections include titles by and about:

  • Virginia and Leonard Woolf
  • Members of the “Bloomsbury Group”
  • British and American women authors
  • 20th century British authors

And among non-literary fields, the Humanities and Special Collections division acquired an extensive collection on fishing and angling (built on a collection of rare fishing books that was donated by a Washington State University alumnus).

Since it was/is a non-circulating collection with special requirements for preservation and use, storage, and physical and environmental security, the unit warranted a new facility. The presence of two “special collections” units in the same library system made it difficult to justify continuing their administrative separation; in part, these units were merged because of insufficient space in Holland Library and because of administrative redundancy. In 1974, at the request of the Director of Libraries, an ad hoc task force was formed to undertake an ARL Management Review and Analysis Program (MRAP) in order to evaluate this situation. In their detailed final report, MRAP outlined various recommendations; among these one that would affect the future of the two “special collections divisions” in Holland Library. Their specific recommendation read: “That the Special Collections unit of Humanities Library be combined with Manuscripts-Archives under one administrative head and be physically integrated no later than 1977 when [the] Holland Library building is remodeled.” When the new Science Library was built in 1977, and following the removal of the science collections from Holland Library into the Owen Science and Engineering Library, the Humanities Special Collections and Manuscripts-Archives divisions were merged into one physical and administrative unit.

Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections (MASC) slowly emerged as a well-known and highly respected resource for scholars. When the Holland Library addition (later named the Terrell Library) was built in 1994, MASC moved into new elegant quarters on the ground floor of the new building. For the first time, this renovation provided the MASC with a modern facility specifically designed for its special administrative requirements.

Through the coming years, MASC remains committed to acquiring, processing, cataloging, preserving, and making available millions of items, including original manuscripts and photographs, audio and video tapes, films, printed and published materials (books, maps, broadsides, etc.), graphic collections, and the archives of Washington State University, all of which will provide primary source material for students and scholars in a variety of disciplines around the world.

Please read the legal statement below, which was drafted by the Washington State University (WSU) Attorney General’s office:

© All material on this site is copyrighted and cannot be copied or reproduced unless otherwise permitted by law. Some material in this archive is displayed with the permission of the owner(s) under the stipulation that users of this site are not permitted to further reproduce or distribute the materials. Users of this site bear responsibility for compliance with copyright laws and all penalties that may result from failure to comply. Click here for more information.

Open to Collaborate Our institution is committed to the development of new modes of collaboration, engagement, and partnership with Indigenous peoples for the care and stewardship of past and future heritage collections.

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671
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