The Special Collections contain different format items:

  • Manuscripts
  • Rare Books and Items
  • Photographs, Slides and Negatives
  • Audio-visual
  • Maps
  • Commonwealth Records
    (John Howard Collection 15,000 items received in first tranche)


The subject content of the Special Collections complements the Academy Library's collections of excellence and is focused to support the current and emerging teaching, research and learning needs of students and staff at UNSW Canberra.

There is a strong focus on military history.

The Australian Military collection includes the papers of General Sir John Wilton, Major-General William Throsby Bridges, W. Hilton Saunders and Lieutenant-General John Coates papers on his United National Cambodia peacekeeping service.

The Maritime History Collection includes a number of officers’ journals and ships’ logs and the Doug Robertson Maritime and Naval History Collection – comprising one of the largest collections of historical ship photographs in Australia.

The John Howard Collectionincludes personal papers and associated Commonwealth records dating back to 1974 and has been made available through a partnership between the National Archives of Australia and UNSW Canberra. The first tranche of records arrived from the National Archives in August 2014. Records will be progressively received as they come into the open access period for the next 15 years. A total of 500 metres is expected by 2028.

The Australian Literary collection holds personal papers and literary manuscripts of modern and contemporary Australian writers including David Foster, Alex Miller, Alma de Groen, Nancy Cato, Dorothy Green, Dorothy Porter, Frank Hardy, Nicholas Enright, Patrick White, Christina Stead, Robert Adamson, Lily Brett, Kate Llewellyn and Graeme Blundell.