About Us

Special Collections houses rare books, manuscript collections, nursery and seed trade catalogs, photographs, and posters related to the history of agriculture. Materials cover a variety of agricultural subjects including horticulture, entomology, poultry sciences, natural history, and are not limited to domestic publications. Our holdings span the time period from the 1500s to the present. As part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Special Collections at the National Agricultural Library is charged with arranging, describing, preserving and making available rare materials significant to the history of agriculture and the USDA.

The Special Collections reading room is open to anyone who needs reference services or access to rare or unique materials at the National Agricultural Library.

Our collection strengths include:

  • USDA history, research programs and scientific accomplishments

  • Plant exploration papers and plant introduction records

  • History of the poultry industry including commercial companies, professional association records and scientific research

  • Materials that reflect the history of American mycology and plant pathology and the relationship to the development of the U. S. National Fungus Collections in the 19th-20th century.

  • Plant and animal parasitology

  • Agricultural economics

  • Nursery and seed trade catalogs

For more information, see: