Special Collections and Archives

Special Collections and Archives
Please note that Special Collections and Archives will be closed on Monday, March 23, 2015.

About Special Collections & Archives


Special Collections and Archives, 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.

Mission statement

Special Collections and Archives 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.


Please see the department’s Policies page for more information.

Online collections

Manuscript collections

  • 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

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. Learn more.
About University Archives

The University Archives, a group of collections within Special Collections and Archives, was established in 1978 as the official institutional record of the history of California Polytechnic State University.

University Archives documents 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 University Archives.

Buildings: Main Buildings

Collections and history


Special Collections & Archives hours and 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.

Contact information

Email: ude.yloplacnull@sevihcra
Voice: 805.756.2305
Fax: 805.756.5770

Special Collections & Archives
Robert E. Kennedy Library, California Polytechnic State University
1 Grand Avenue, Building 35, Room 409
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

More information about the department and its staff can be found here.

Learn more about using collections from Special Collections & Archives

Information on reference requests, collection inventories and catalogs, licensing and reproduction, reading room guidelines, and much more can be found here.


Find out about publications Special Collections and Archives have produced or reissued.