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K-12 Visitors

Materials, services and resources available to K-12 students and teachers.

History Day

The History Day Research Guide directs History Day teachers and students to materials, services and resources available at the University of Washington Libraries.

Why visit?

The unique holdings of Special Collections encompass a broad range of subjects and geographic areas with particular emphasis on the Pacific Northwest. The reference collections highlight the history of the book, regional history and information on the University of Washington. Special Collections is the Libraries’ central location for rare and original materials and for collections on:

  • Regional Architecture
  • Book Arts
  • 19th-century American & English Literature
  • 20th-century American & English Literature
  • Organizational Records and Personal Papers related to the Pacific Northwest
  • Pacific Northwest Photographs, Rare Books and Maps
  • Travel and Exploration
  • University of Washington Archives

Before you visit

Questions to consider

      • What is it you are hoping to have the students accomplish?
      • Have you discussed with your students the difference between primary and secondary resources? Not all materials in Special Collections are considered primary sources. While Special Collections staff can provide some guidance, it will be the student’s responsibility with the teacher’s assistance to select appropriate resources.
      • Clarify what type of materials with which they are seeking to work.  Do your students need to use original materials, or will resources from the school or local library be sufficient for their topic?

          Your students’ visit to Special Collections will be more successful if they have strong background knowledge in their topic prior to their visit. Students can gain background knowledge from many secondary sources available through school and local public libraries. The University of Washington Libraries Online Catalog can also provide insights to additional secondary sources. Because many of our collections do not have finding aids or inventories, by having a strong background users familiar with their topic will be able to make the most of their research time.

          Suggested activities

          Some suggested activities for students prior to their visit:

          • Investigate secondary and primary resources available through the local library.
          • Have your students explore the UW Libraries website and search the UW Libraries Search, locating relevant materials housed in Special Collections.
          • Have your students explore the Databases and lists on the Special Collections website, including viewing selections from our Digital Collections.
          • Cross reference books or magazines found in Special Collections to the holdings of the public library to see if materials are available through the Public library system or interlibrary loan.

          Access restrictions

          • Some materials are stored off-site and are not available for same-day use.
          • Some parts of the collection are not available for group use, such as Book Arts and Rare Books.
          • A small portion of the collections have restrictions on access. Most Manuscript and Archival collections are available for public use, but some may only be used by advanced academic researchers or are subject to other restrictions. In the case of many University Archives collections may contain temporarily non-public materials that are restricted to use only by University officials.

            Arranging your visit

            1. Brief orientation to the Libraries

            When arranging to visit the University of Washington Libraries it is recommended that teachers and librarians arrange a brief orientation to the UW Libraries as a whole, so that you and your students will have a general idea of the UW Libraries system, physical arrangement of materials and computerized systems before beginning.


            Adam Hall, Manager of Operations
            Suzzallo Library Reference & Research Services

              2. Visit Special Collections

              In order to make your student’s time in Special Collections successful, we require that teachers and school librarians:

                • Contact Special Collections to schedule your visit. Please try to schedule your visit as early as possible. We require that visits be scheduled at least two weeks before your desired date of visit. The more notice you provide us with the better able we are to make your visit successful.

                  Special Collections



                  • Arrange to schedule your group orientation and, if necessary, group rotation schedule. Special Collections does not have the facilities to accommodate large groups, nor the staff to accommodate drop-in visitors.
                  • Submit  your research topics and specific material requests a minimum of one week before your visit. Students will not be able to request more material on the day of.
                  • Have one adult accompany every five students.

                  Be aware

                  While it helps to group students working on like topics together, we do not have the facilities to have large groups work together.  No more than two people are allowed to work with one group of materials at one time.

                  In addition, please consider:

                    • Scheduling visits during low-peak periods such as interim. If possible, please plan your visit on dates other than during the first week of the academic quarter or the last two weeks of the academic quarter. See the academic calendar.

                  Visiting nuts & bolts

                  Some practical information for your visit to Special Collections:

                    • Everyone visiting Special Collections will be required to abide by our patron code of conduct. Please see Using the Collections.
                    • There are a limited number of computer terminals. When possible it is best for students to have done their preliminary catalog searches before they arrive in Special Collections.
                    • Our collections are almost exclusively housed in closed stacks. To access materials, students will need to complete retrieval request forms.
                    • Depending on the number of students planning on visiting Special Collections we may schedule rotating visits so as to accommodate both the students and our normal patrons.
                    • We have a limited number of microform readers. Please be aware if several students need access to microfilm or microfiche there may not be time for all to utilize this resource.

                  Additional information

                  The following links provide information that may be useful for your students.