Rare books figure prominently in the Special Collections Research Center’s mission to support research and teaching at GW and beyond. We are building and making accessible a rare book teaching and research collection for use by students and faculty of the University as well as the external community.
The provenance, or past ownership, of a book or other collection item is an important aspect to understanding books, readers, collections, and libraries. This evidence appears in many different forms in GW Libraries' rare book holdings. You can learn about a book's custodial history through book plates, inscriptions, readers' marks, decorations, bindings, marginalia, and annotations. Finding information about former owners typically requires consulting a variety of resources. The resources described below are some archival sources for researching items from GW Libraries' collections. Researchers may also need to consult specific donor files that are maintained in the Special Collections Research Center. Please contact Special Collections about gaining access to donor files and other collections.