Special Collections

Connect to the Digital USD, Special Collections, and University Archives Online Guide


The Department of Special Collections provides access to unique archival and digital collections as well as to rare books, manuscripts and print ephemera.


The University Archives is the repository for collections associated with the history of the University of San Diego. Established in the early 1990s, the University Archives contains documents, photographs, media, publications, and memorabilia from the university’s inception. It serves as an historical and educational resource by providing research assistance and access to its collections, and through the creation of exhibits.

The Alan D. Bersin Papers documents Bersin's tenure as Superintendent of San Diego City Schools, 1998 - 2005 and as California's Secretary of Education, 2005-2006. The collection includes reports, research papers, correspondence, memoranda, and published materials. Alan Bersin taught law at the University of San Diego before he was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California by President Clinton in 1993. He was awarded a degree of Doctor of Laws (Honorary) by the University of San Diego in 1994.

The Emmett J. Culligan Papers contains the correspondence, books, business documents, family records and memorabilia of the founder of the Culligan Water Company. Emmett Culligan was the creator of the water treatment industry and an early advocate for the establishment of the University of San Diego.

Digital Initiatives

Digital Initiatives supports university scholarship through digital publishing, digitizing unique content, and creating accessible and sustainable digital collections. The institutional repository, Digital USD, is administered by the Digital Initiatives Librarian. This repository provides a platform to host publications such as peer-reviewed journals, student publications, and publications of institutes and centers on campus, as well as, digitized material from Special Collections.

Other Special Collections

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection includes Californiana with an emphasis on the San Diego area and Catholic Church history; manuscripts and early printed books; 20th century and contemporary artists’ books and fine press books; and 19th century books notable for their bindings and ornamentation.

The San Diego College for Women Postcard Collection is a legacy from the Society of the Sacred Heart who established and administered the San Diego College for Women through early 1970s. The postcard collection contains several smaller collections that were donated over the years to the San Diego College for Women Library.

The Copley Library Bookplate Collection includes bookplates from around the world that include both heraldic or armorial bookplates and artistic exlibris designs.