Illinois History and Lincoln Collections

(Illinois Historical Survey and Lincoln Room)


322 Library, 1408 W. Gregory Dr., Urbana, IL 61801. (217) 333-1777.

Open M-F, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.  

The unit is staffed by John Hoffmann and Krista Gray. 




The reading room of the unit is located in Library 322.

Printed materials in the collections are cataloged in the Library's online catalog.  These materials, which users may browse, are shelved in an adjacent section of the main stacks.

Manuscript collections are stored in the main stacks but are retrieved for research use in Library 322. The unit's manuscript holdings are listed, and partly described, in a searchable database.

Some collections are fully inventoried and entered into the current database. Other collections have been inventoried, in whole or in part; typescripts or printouts of those inventories are available upon request.



The collections contain 32,526 volumes (as of May 10, 2013), approximately 2,500 cubic feet of manuscripts, and a large number of maps, broadsides, prints and photographs, artifacts, and ephemera.  Researchers benefit substantially from the advice and suggestions of a staff which is familiar with these materials, with their inner connections, and with Illinois history and Lincoln studies as a whole. 



For many years, the collections were located in two separate units, the Illinois Historical Survey and the Lincoln Room, each with a history of its own.

The University created the Survey in 1909, and for three decades it functioned as the editorial office of the Illinois State Historical Library in Springfield.  It mainly collected materials of use in the preparation of the Centennial History of Illinois, a multi-volume study, and the Illinois Historical Collections, a documentary series.  These publications, written or edited by University faculty, essentially created the field of Illinois history.  (This accomplishment is commemorated by the bronze plaque that stands at the north entrance to the Library.)

After 1939, when the state historical agency was consolidated in Springfield, the Survey became fully a unit of the Graduate College.  As such, it continued to expand its holdings in the field of Illinois history and to define the study of the state's past.

In 1966, the unit was moved from Lincoln Hall, where it was affiliated with the Department of History, to the Library, where, by serving an increasing number of users from many departments, it grew into a distinctly interdisciplinary "departmental library."

In 1980, the Survey became an administrative part of the Library under terms of an Agreement with the Graduate College whereby the Library promised the independence and integrity of the Survey.

In 1951, the collection which formed the nucleus of the Lincoln Room was donated to the University by Harlan Hoyt Horner and Henrietta Calhoun Horner, both graduates and both Lincoln scholars.  The Horners also established an endowment to enlarge the holdings of the Lincoln Room and to maintain it as a separate, distinct part of the Library.

The collections of the Lincoln Room and the Survey, being so closely related, were combined in 2001.  The librarian and curator of the Survey, who advocated this combination, became also the librarian and curator of the Lincoln Room. For many topics, the combination of the two units significantly enhanced the research value of the separate holdings.

The reading room of the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, once in Library 346, was moved in 2006 to Library 422, and moved again in 2009 to its present location, Library 322.