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Special Collections and Archives at the Eli M. Oboler Library, Idaho State University acquires, preserves, and makes accessible research materials that document the historical, cultural, and folk life experience of Southeast Idaho, the Intermountain West, and the history of Idaho State University.

While the holdings in our collections are developed in relation to instructional and research interests within the University, all holdings are available for use by visiting scholars and the general public as well as by Idaho State University faculty and students. Materials in our collections do not circulate.

We welcome donations of materials pertaining to our geographic collecting scope. We will consider offers for donations of literary papers, family papers, business and organizational records, diaries, journals, personal memoirs, photographs, maps, and other materials that support the collection’s focus. Offers will be evaluated based on the availability of resources to properly care for the materials, as well as on their potential research value. All gifts are acknowledged unless requested otherwise. Donors will be asked to sign an official deed of gift acknowledging the donation.

Valuation of Gifts

As per United States federal tax regulations, Special Collections cannot provide monetary appraisals or estimates of value for donors. Those wishing to take deductions on their personal income taxes are encouraged to seek the services of a qualified appraiser. The American Society of Appraisers publishes a directory of certified appraisers by state and by specialty.

Hours of Operation

Researchers are highly encouraged to contact the Department prior to their visit to ensure access to the materials required. Advanced notice of your visit and research topic will also enable archives staff to prepare for your visit and provide better service. We want to make your research experience as productive as possible. Please fill in the Research Request form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possibile. 

Directions to Special Collections

Special Collections is located on the lower level of Oboler Library in Room 39. Information on getting to Pocatello, parking on campus, and obtaining parking passes is available through the Department of Public Safety.

Since we are a small staff, our normal hours of operation can change each semester based on student worker availability. On occasion we do have to close intermittently and hours are subject to change during times when the University is not in session. For our most current hours please consult the Library Hours page of this website.

Special Collection Policies/Fees

Reading Room Policies
Reproduction Fees
Media Use Fees
Fee-Based Services for Community and Non-ISU Patrons

Teaching with Special Collections Materials

Special Collections and Archives is committed to integrating rare books, archives, and manuscripts from the collections into the ISU curriculum. Building class discussions or assignments around archival materials or rare books can provide an engaging, multi-sensory experience for your students that can lead to unexpected insights. In recent years, we have collaborated with faculty from across a number of disciplines – History, English, Anthropology, Theatre, Music, Art, CMP, Education, and Business – and have found meaningful ways to use our unique resources in their courses.

Class use of our collections can range from having your students spend a single, highly focused class period examining and discussing documents relevant to your course themes to short-term and even full-semester research projects. We are also available to give your class hands-on instruction in finding and working with primary source materials and to assist individual students who choose to pursue research projects or assignments using Special Collections materials. Several students have recently completed for-credit internships in Special Collections; projects for internships are developed in advance and in consultation with the student and their faculty advisor to enhance the student’s subject interests while meeting the requirements of their respective departments.

Requesting Instruction

Instruction in Special Collections and Archives is a collaborative process. Special Collections and Archives faculty will either lead the class session or co-lead with the course instructor. Every instruction session will receive a standard 10-15 minute introduction that covers a department overview and proper care and handling of archival materials.

If you are interested in holding a session in Special Collections and Archives, please contact us well in advance to discuss materials, topics, and the structure of the session. We are very happy to meet with you to develop and discuss assignments using our collections. We request submission of Instruction Requests at least two weeks in advance.

For large, semester-long projects that involve digitization, processing collections, and/or one-on-one consultation and training with students that will require more than four hours of Special Collections and Archives’ time - including instruction - advanced discussion with the head of the department prior to scheduling, is required. Discussion and planning one semester in advance has resulted in successful projects we have completed with other departments. Given the limited staff, time, and resources of the Special Collections and Archives department, we may not always be able to accommodate such projects. To discuss your project, please call (208) 282-3608 to schedule an appointment.


Due to the nature of its collections, Special Collections has specific guidelines for access and use of its materials. All of the collections are non-circulating and must be used in the designated reading room located in the lower level of the Oboler Library. Patrons will be required to sign-in upon arrival and adhere to the Reading Room Policies.

Only Special Collections and Archives staff will provide photocopies and/or scans of materials; requests for media use of materials will be considered on a case-by-case basis. In both instances media use of our materials will be allowed only when doing so will not damage the item(s), requests comply with United States Copyright Law, privacy laws, donor’s wishes, and all fees are paid.

Intermountain West Collection

The Intermountain West Collection consists of secondary sources including monographs, maps, and other reference materials that complement our manuscript collections, focusing on Pocatello, southeast Idaho, and parts of northern Utah. All of the books are searchable using the Library Catalog.

Manuscript Collections

There are presently over 300 separate manuscript collections deemed of high research value pertaining to the history of southeast Idaho, the Intermountain West, and the U. S. westward expansion dating from the early 19th century through the present. The collections include thousands of maps and architectural drawings; photographic prints and negatives; scrapbooks, ephemera, correspondence, personal papers, business records, oral histories, sound recordings, microfilm, aerial photographs, newspapers, and drawings.

Online Collections

When possible, Special Collections works to make available digital versions of materials from its manuscript and university archives collections. Scanned photographs and text enhance and support our collection areas, offering a way to view primary sources online from anywhere in the world. Our digital collections represent only a small percentage of our actual holdings. Original documents are available for viewing in Special Collections during our regular hours of operation.

Bannock County Images

The Bannock County Images project is a digital repository located on the Idaho Digital Resources site through which researchers, students, scholars, genealogists, historic interpreters, authors, and members of the general public can access information pertaining to Bannock County, Idaho. It contains a selection of over 150 images representing people, places, and events from Bannock County’s history.

This is a collaborative project between Special Collections and Archives, Eli M. Oboler Library, Idaho State University; the Bannock County Historical Society; and, the South Bannock County Historical Center. The project was funded in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council.

Rare Book Collections

The Rare Books Collection contain thousands of volumes published from the 16th thru the 21st centuries. Among these are a unique collection of 18th century English books and dictionaries created by Dr. Samuel Johnson and his contemporaries, a growing collection of contemporary artist’s books, and books pertaining to the American West, the Intermountain West, and Idaho. All of the books, including the sub-collections, are searchable using the Library Catalog.

Sub-collections in Rare Books

  • Book Arts Collection - a growing collection of contemporary artist’s books and broadsides
  •  Early English Dictionaries Collection - a small collection of dictionaries ranging from a 1670 publication of Glossographia to modern reprints
  • FOOLs (Friends of Oboler Library) Collection of Censored Books
  • H. Alan Robinson Children’s Readers Collection
  • Dr. Johnson and His Circle of Friends Collections - Samuel Johnson LL.D. (1709-1784), often referred to simply as Dr. Johnson, was one of England's greatest literary figures: a poet, essayist, biographer, lexicographer, and often esteemed the finest literary critic in English
1880 and 1900 Idaho Census Data

About 1975, students at Idaho State University began putting the information contained in the Idaho Territorial Census for 1880 into machine-readable format in order to conduct historical research on Idaho's historical population in an electronic format. In 1989, awards from the State Board of Education/Higher Education Research Council and the History Committee of the Idaho Centennial Commission facilitated completion of the coding of the 1880 census and began the task of coding the 1900 census. Also at this time, the project expanded to involve students not only at ISU but also at the University of Idaho, Boise State University and Albertson College (then, the College of Idaho).

The data used in this study relating to Idaho's population in 1880 and 1900 were supplied in partially-proofed form by the Idaho State University History Department (under copyright agreement with the Idaho State Board of Education).

1880 Census Intro

1900 Census Intro

University Archives

The purpose of the University Archives is to collect, preserve, and administer records that document the history of Idaho State University and its operations. Due to a number of factors, including privacy legislation concerning student records and other related laws, materials housed in the University Archives may require permission from the Head of Special Collections and University Archives in order to be viewed. The Head may, in turn, contact the designated administrator for permission, depending on content. While these records are part of the "public record" of the state, Idaho Code recognizes several exemptions from disclosure.

Some University Archives materials may be restricted due to federal law. Special Collections reserves the right to limit the duplication of materials due to copyright, collection donor restrictions, and confidentiality or related issues. Since the copying of materials is handled by archives staff, and because of limited availability of staff, patrons may need to arrange for a later pickup or for delivery.

Transfer of ISU Records to the University Archives

Transfer of any materials related to the history of Idaho State University from any department or unit on campus must be coordinated in advance and includes filling out all pertinent paperwork. Please contact the University Archives by calling (208) 282-3608 or email us at isuarchs@isu.edu for further details.

To obtain copies of student records and transcripts contact:
Registrar/Transcripts – (208) 282-2661
Office of Student Financial Aid – (208) 282-2756
Graduate School Admissions and Records – (208) 282-2150