Department of Special Collections and University Archives

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.

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.


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. Photocopies and/or scans of materials may be made by Special Collections staff only when doing so will not damage the item(s).

Intermountain West Collection

The Intermountain West Collection consists of over 4,000 books that complement our manuscript collections, and includes such subjects as the Basques, Mormons, silver mining, the history of the railroad, Fort Hall, Lewis & Clark, the Oregon Trail, and more. 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, the U. S. westward expansion, and ISU itself, dating from the early 19th century through the present. The collection includes over 2,300 maps and architectural drawings focused on the Intermountain West; thousands of photographic prints and negatives; and records, scrapbooks, ephemera, correspondence, personal papers, business records, oral histories, sound recordings, microfilm, aerial photographs, newspapers, drawings, and yearbooks.

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 can be viewed 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 Book Collections contains over 3,000 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 small 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
  1. Book Arts Collection - a selection of over 50 contemporary artist’s books
  2. Early English Dictionaries Collection - a small collection of dictionaries ranging from a 1670 publication of Glossographia to modern reprints
  3. FOOLs (Friends of Oboler Library) Collection of Censored Books
  4. H. Alan Robinson Readers Collection
  5. 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

University Archives

The purpose of the University Archives is to collect, preserve, and administer the records which 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.

The Collections included in the University Archives come in a variety of formats from all departments on campus. Some of our major holdings include:

Albion State Normal School Records
Annual Budget Reports
News Releases
President’s Office Records

A policy is in place advising university departments, colleges and institutes how to determine which of their records are permanent and/or historic (defined on the Records and Information Management web page) and how to prepare them for transfer to University Archives.

All transfer of historic materials should be arranged for in advance by contacting the Head of Special Collections and University Archives by calling (208) 282-3608 with any questions and requests for forms.

If you have questions about ISU Records and Information Management, please contact Monte G. Asche, Records Manager, at (208) 282-3045. The ISU Records and Information Management Program, defined by ISU policy is aligned with the Eli M. Oboler Library due to its connection to the identification of permanent or historic records.

For students 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

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 may be handled only by archives staff, and because of limited availability of staff, patrons may need to make arrangements for a later pickup or for delivery.

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.

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.

For research and reference requests, or to make an appointment, please email us at or call (208) 282-3249.

For additional information, please contact:

Ellen M. Ryan, M.A., M.L.I.S.
Head of Special Collections and University Archives
Assistant Professor
Eli M. Oboler Library, Room 36B
850 South 9th Avenue
Campus Box 8089
Pocatello, ID 83209-8089
(208) 282-3608