Special Collections, a department of the Robert E. Kennedy Library at Cal Poly, was established in 1969 to build primary source research collections that reflect and support the polytechnic curriculum of the university.
Major subject areas in the collections include architects, architecture and the built environment of California; book arts; environmental history; ethnic studies; fine printing; graphic arts; Julia Morgan; John Steinbeck first editions; landscape architecture in California; Robinson Jeffers first editions; San Luis Obispo regional history; social history; and William Randolph Hearst and San Simeon.
Special Collections acquires, preserves, interprets, and provides access to primary research materials in their original formats, including books, manuscripts, archives, and other items, in support of the educational and research activities of the Cal Poly academic community, visiting scholars, and the research community at large.
- View digitized photographs, posters, drawings, and other items from our archival collections.
- Julia Morgan – an online exhibition
- California Architectural Archives: Original materials by and about architects, architecture, and the built environment of California, including the Julia Morgan Papers.
- California History Collections: Original materials documenting the history of the San Luis Obispo region, with special emphasis on ethnic studies and environmental history.
- Links to the Land: Original materials relating to agriculture and ranching in San Luis Obispo County, including collections documenting the environmental history of the region.
- All Finding Aids
Monographs, fine printing, and book arts
- Fine Printing and Book Arts: Letterpress, limited edition, first edition, and books as art objects. We also collect books on printing, marbling, papermaking, binding, and other aspects of book arts.
The University Archives, a department of the Robert E. Kennedy Library, was established in 1978 as the official repository for the historical records of California Polytechnic State University.
The University Archives provides information on campus life, organizations, and activities; the physical campus, its facilities and the built environment; non-confidential information on faculty, administrators, staff and alumni; and campus lore and traditions.
The University Archives is also an excellent source on the history of the State of California. In its educational mission and activities, Cal Poly has been closely linked with the economic growth and development of California. As a result, California agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and agricultural education, as well as engineering, aeronautics, architecture and environmental design are some of the areas represented in the holdings of the University Archives.
The University Archives of Cal Poly acquires, preserves, interprets, and provides access to research materials in their original and digital formats, documenting the history, growth, and development of California Polytechnic State University.
What we do
The staff of University Archives appraises, acquires, arranges and describes these materials for the purpose of preserving them and making them accessible to both the Cal Poly community and the larger research community for research and exhibition purposes.
The department maintains these research materials separately from Kennedy Library’s general stack collections due to their rare/unique qualities, physical condition, and/or format. Materials held in University Archives do not circulate outside the department. Signed permission to quote from our holdings is required for publication, exhibition or broadcast. Licensing fees may also apply to images used in publication, exhibition or broadcast. Please visit our research access page for more information.
Collections and history
- Collections: Information about University Archives Collections
- Cal Poly History and Online Exhibitions: Highlights in the history of Cal Poly and other exhibits
- Publications: On March 8, 2001 to celebrate Cal Poly’s centennial, the Kennedy Library published a campus history.
Hours & location
General hours can be found here.
The Special Collections and Archives department is located in room 409 of Kennedy Library.
It is advisable to make an appointment in advance of a visit. See the library hours web page for more information.
Special Collections & Archives
Robert E. Kennedy Library, California Polytechnic State University
1 Grand Avenue, Building 35
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407