Skip to Search
Skip to Navigation
Skip to Content

University of Connecticut University Libraries Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

Archives & Special Collections
University of Connecticut Libraries

A Short History of Archives & Special Collections

The Special Collections Department in the Wilbur Cross Library at the University of Connecticut was established in 1965 when Richard Schimmelpfeng, of Washington University, was recruited to the staff by then director John P. McDonald. Created to house rare books, manuscripts, the university's archives, and other materials needing special care and housing, the department grew rapidly for more than a decade.

In 1978, the Homer Babbidge Library replaced the Wilbur Cross Library as the University's main library, and Special Collections moved to the new building. By that time, the collections had grown to such proportions that it seemed appropriate to create a separate unit to deal with the special requirements of archival and manuscript materials. Accordingly, the Department of Historical Manuscripts & Archives was established under the direction of Rand Jimerson, occupying space in the Wilbur Cross building that had been vacated by Special Collections.

In the 1980s, the collections of both operations continued to expand and the potential for Historical Manuscripts & Archives to fulfill the important role of helping to preserve original materials that document the state's history became evident. Eventually the idea of a new research center devoted to this purpose attracted the attention and support of Senator Christopher Dodd.

Planning for the new research center began in earnest in the early 1990s. The center was originally envisioned as a home for archival and manuscript collections only but it quickly became apparent that important economies in staffing would be realized by recombining Special Collections with Historical Manuscripts & Archives and planning proceeded on that basis. State funding for the $10 million project was secured and more than $1.5 million in private funds was raised to support the ongoing program of the center.

Text by David L. Kapp and staff of Archives & Special Collections.

The Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Building

Ground was broken for the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center on October 10, 1993, and the finished building was dedicated by President William J. Clinton on October 15, 1995. It is named for the late Connecticut Senator Thomas Joseph Dodd whose son, former Connecticut Senator Christopher J. Dodd, played a crucial role in the Center's development. The dedication ceremony inaugurated "The Dodd Year", a year-long series of special events, speakers, exhibits, and colloquia. Devoted to the theme of human rights, The Dodd Year recalled Thomas Dodd's participation as a senior prosecutor in the International Military Tribunal, the first of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

View of curved entry and main lobby of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

View of curved entry and main lobby of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.
On the Left: Bronze bust of Thomas J. Dodd by Connecticut sculptor,
Norman Legassie.

The Dodd Year program brought an array of world figures to campus including Madeline Albright, Elie Wiesel, and Oscar Arias and concluded in the fall of 1996 with an address by Mikhail Gorbachev.

The newly combined department of Archives & Special Collections moved into the building in January 1996, and resumed service to the public during the spring semester of that year.

Since its opening, the Dodd Research Center has more than fulfilled the expectations of both the library staff and that of the University. The excellent facilities provided for the storage and use of unique and irreplacable materials have attracted donors who seek such a repository for collections they have created or assembled at great cost. The building has become an important focus in the University's academic, social and cultural life.

Contact Information

For information regarding reference services in Archives & Special Collections, please call the Reference Desk at (860)486-2524 or email us at

Mailing Address:

Archives & Special Collections
University of Connecticut Libraries
405 Babbidge Road, Unit 1205
Storrs, CT 06269-1205