Special Collections at Mann
Materials from Special Collections may be used from 10am- 3pm Monday through Thursday, and 10am - noon on Fridays, and by appointment. Walk-in requests can be made at the Circulation Desk during these hours; however, we highly recommend contacting us in advance with your request. This allows our staff to retrieve the items ahead of time and make the best of your visit. Policies and procedures for viewing special collections materials are listed here.
Mann Library's Special Collections hold materials that are too rare, valuable or fragile to be housed in the regular stacks. They consist of more than 15,000 volumes, many of which contain hand-colored illustrations, engravings and lithographs.
Many volumes housed within Mann Special Collections originated from the personal libraries of great Cornell figures such as Liberty Hyde Bailey, Anna and John Henry Comstock, and Martha van Rensselaer. In several cases these bequests have become the basis of specialized collections of particular importance:
- The Phillips Beekeeping Collection is the world's largest and most valuable collection of books and manuscripts on bees and beekeeping.
- The Rice Poultry Collectionis a major repository of information on poultry science.
- The Language of Flowers Collection is a valuable resource for researchers in Victorian culture, horticulture as art, and women's lifestyles.
Other strong collections are available in lace, New York State agriculture, natural history and home economics, botany, evolution, genetics, ecology, agricultural economics, general agriculture and home economics, general natural history, fly fishing, textiles and costume history.
An endowment named in honor of apiculturist and Cornell professor Dr. Everett Franklin Phillips (1878-1951) supports the world's largest and most valuable collection of books and manuscripts on bees and beekeeping. The Phillips Beekeeping Collection endowment, established in the mid-1920s, is Mann Library's oldest endowment, originally funded by New York State beekeepers and royalties received from the Dyce Honey Patent.
The Rice Poultry Collection, named after Cornell professor James E. Rice, America's first professor of poultry husbandry, is a major repository of information on poultry science. Over 800 pre-1900 volumes, the earliest works in the poultry collection, are housed in Special Collections.
Our remarkable Language of Flowers Collection was donated to the library by award-winning garden writer Isabel Zucker '26. The 147 volumes in this collection include many early 19th-century texts on the art of expressing emotions, sentiments, and moral lessons through floral arrangements. They are a valuable resource for researchers in Victorian culture, horticulture as art, and women's lifestyles.