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Special Collections

Fall 2020: The library is temporarily closed and most of the librarians are working remotely, however we are able to answer questions from the archives and scan materials. Please email with your questions.


Special Collections and Archives support the curriculum and preserve the records of the Graduate Theological Union. The collections are dedicated to diverse religious dialogue, the Christian and wider religious intellectual heritage, the American religious experience in the West, and the ministries and missions of the Member Schools and Institutes of the GTU.

Rare Books may only be accessed Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm.  Please request them at the Circulation Dask. Please allow at least a half hour for the materials to be pulled. 

Archives may be accessed Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm. If you plan on visiting, please submit a request at least two days in advance to GTU Archives. Please indicate the collection and which boxes/folders you would like to view. Due to staffing limitations,  we are unable to fulfill your request on the same day without prior notification. For additional contact and visiting information regarding the collections, go to Archives.

To access our digital content sites, go to this landing page and follow the various links to the different sites.

If you are interested in donating materials or funding for archives or rare books, see our Gift  page.

Rare Books

Vellum Leaf, Vulgate Bible, 1150 AD
France, 10.5 x 7.25 inches

The Rare Book Collection was integrated from the separate collections developed by the individual libraries of the Member Schools into the GTU Common Library when it was established in 1969. These collections had been built to support the theological, philosophical, and cultural aims of the individual schools in the context of their respective ecclesial, denominational, and educational commitments. These collections form the core component of the current GTU Rare Book Collection now numbering over 8,000 volumes.

Dating primarily from the Reformation period to the end of the nineteenth century, the Collection contains material from the areas of Biblical, Systematic, and Moral Theology, and denominational missions, apologetics, and polity. Latin and German texts predominate among the older works; English, Greek, French, Spanish, and Hebrew are also represented. Strengths include a sizeable collection of seventeenth and eighteenth century editions of patristic authors, as well as early and later scholastic theology (Basil, Augustine, Gregory, Aquinas, Suarez, etc.)

The collection also includes numerous printed Bibles; exegesis, sermons, treatises, etc; numerous editions of the Book of Common Prayer; other Protestant and Catholic liturgical works, books of devotion, and hymnals; denominational histories; biographies and autobiographies of theologians and religious figures; and a collection of miniature books. In addition to materials of direct interest to particular ecclesial or denominational communities, the Collection includes works that represent 20th Century movements of radical thought, the New Age, and New Religious Movements.

For additional information about accessing rare books, see the Rare Book page.




Bede Griffiths Starr King Anne McGrew Bennett Richard York, 1967

Representative Archival Collections. From left, Bede Griffiths, Catholic monk in India; Thomas Starr King, Unitarian minister; Anne McGrew Bennett, Women, Peace and Social Justice Activist; and Richard York, Berkeley Free Church, 1967, a street ministry in the South Campus community.


The Archives contains the Manuscript Collection and the Institutional Record of the Graduate Theological Union. Together, the repository houses fourteen hundred linear feet of materials from over 400 collections.

The Manuscript Collection supports the study of religious activities in Northern California, the Pacific Coastal area west of the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Rim. These collections reflect ecumenism, inter-religious activity, new religious movements, religious and ethnic plurality, women in religion, and gays and lesbians in religion. While many of the collections date from 1950 through the present, some collections deposited by member schools go back to the 19th century. Among the most noteworthy is the Thomas Starr King Collection, 1837-1964. Collections from the recent past document the efforts of religious minded people to effect change in the world.

The Institutional Record preserves the records of the GTU administration and program units. These collections tell the story of the GTU and its affiliates and document modern religious education and  trends.

For more information, see Archives.

Among the special collections are:

To explore our online exhibits and digital content, go to this landing page.

To explore our online finding aids, you may use the form below:




"The theme of the Graduate Theological Union goes beyond the ecumenical movement and beyond interfaith programs to strike a much more profound chord in the life of a human family."

Bishop John S. Cummins, "Reading the Signs of the Times: The Heritage and Promise of the GTU," Sept 17, 2008, convocation, citing David W. Louisell from talk at St. Albert's College in 1966.


GTU Special Collections in Graduate Theological Union Special Collections