Science Fiction Collections

A gray right hand holds two green and yellow faces against a red background with splashes of yellow, black, and blue.
Detail of the cover of "More Than Human" by Theodore Sturgeon, 1953. Call Number: ASF B1869.

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 (1923-2020), writer and founder of KU's Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, 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 library received deposits of World SF, from the Science Fiction Research Association, and from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He was also largely responsible for our acquisition of many deposits and gifts from other science fiction writers.

Printed Materials

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 the following (text is linked to online finding aids):

Online finding aids exist for the collections (or at least one accession of the collections) that are hyperlinked. 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.

Special Collections Contact

Elspeth Healey

Special Collections Curator for post-1700 materials (except the areas listed below)


Eve Wolynes

Special Collections Curator for pre-1700 materials, Asian collections, history of science, maps/cartography