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Literary Research in Special Collections

This guide provides an introduction to conducting literary research using Special Collections. Collections at University of Maryland Libraries are featured, but information on other collections is also presented.

Using Literary Manuscripts in Literary Research

The serious literary scholar looks at original manuscripts of an author's writing, correspondence, notes, etc. to gain insight into the author.  However, even undergraduate students doing literary research can benefit from looking at primary papers and documents to experience a direct encounter with an author. 

  • Looking at original material will enable the rsearcher to form his own opinions and not rely on others' ideas.
  • Different drafts of a literary work may reveal the author's intentions and creative process.
  • Looking at original correspondence, diaries, and photographs can reveal the author's personality and thoughts in a way that secondary information cannot match.
  • Looking at correspondence or writing of the author's colleagues, publishers, and contemporaries can add additional knowledge.

Materials Found in Special Collections