Science Fiction Collections
Founded in 1969 with the first installment of an annual gift from an alumnus, Larry Friesen, and built almost entirely by gifts (both materials and funds), the Department's collection of science fiction is one of its most rapidly growing.
Professor Emeritus James E. Gunn (former head of KU's Center for the Study of Science Fiction) has not only supported the collection by generous gifts of books and periodicals but has persuaded others to support it as well. It is through his efforts that the Department became the North American repository for World SF (the organization of overseas science fiction writers and publishers, which has presented us with science fiction from Europe, Latin America, Israel, the Far East and the British Commonwealth), the official repository for the archives of the Science Fiction Research Association, and one of the official recipients of new science fiction from the Science Fiction Writers of America. He is also largely responsible for our acquisition of many deposits and gifts from other science fiction writers.
Notable print accessions have included the John Ryley collection, distinguished for its very strong holdings of science fiction periodicals dating from the 1920's to the mid-50's, the donation of a large portion of the library of P. Schuyler Miller, long-time book review editor for Astounding (now known as Analog), the bequest of Richard Delap's library, and a large gift from Lloyd Currey. In addition, frequent gifts of paperbacks and magazines are received from local collectors of fantasy and science fiction.
In 1965 the Library received by bequest the library of James H. Stewart. Mr. Stewart, one of the founding members of the Wichita Bibliophiles, was particularly interested in fantasy fiction and the Stewart Collection includes most of the novels and short stories of Arthur Machen and a fine run of the fantasy magazine Weird Tales as well as a valuable collection of bibliography and modern fine printing.
Manuscripts and Audio-Visual Materials
In addition to our holdings of Science Fiction books and periodicals, the Spencer Research Library holds papers and manuscript materials for several writers, publishers, agents, and organizations involved in the larger world of Speculative Fiction. The collections include materials for:
- Brian Aldiss, Helliconia Manuscripts Collection (writer)
- Harry Altshuler (journalist, literary agent, writer)
- Eric Temple Bell (mathematician, writer)
- Lloyd Biggle (writer)
- Algis Budrys (writer)
- Thomas A. Easton (writer, critic, scholar)
- James Gunn (writer, critic, scholar)
- Russell Randolph Hays (inventor, writer)
- Joan Hunter Holly (writer, Science Fiction Writers of America officer)
- Lee Killough (writer)
- P. Schuyler (Peter Schuyler) Miller (writer, critic)
- Robert Mills Literary Agency (organization)
- Science Fiction Oral History Association (organization)
- Science Fiction Research Association (organization)
- T. L. Sherred (writer)
- Cordwainer Smith (writer)
- Theodore Sturgeon** (writer)
- A. E. van Vogt (writer)
- Donald A. Wollheim (publisher, editor, writer)
Online finding aids exist for the collections (or at least one accession of the collections) of those writers whose names appear in bold. These finding aids may be accessed through the Library's "Finding Aids for Archival and Manuscript Collections" page. Inventory information for the remaining collections may be accessed through paper guides in the Spencer Research Library Reading Room or by consulting a curator.
Additionally, the library holds several hundred oral history tapes from the Science Fiction Oral History Association, as well as other science fiction audio-visual materials.
** In addition to the existing accession of Theodore Sturgeon papers, the library has recently (July 2011) received a major gift of Sturgeon materials, including correspondence, manuscripts for many of Sturgeon's stories, novels, and screenplays (both published and unpublished) and volumes from his personal library. This material is in the process of being cataloged and a new finding aid is forthcoming. Information regarding this gift is available through the KU Libraries news archive.
For additional information about Spencer's science fiction collections, please contact:
Special Collections Librarian