Mann Library Rare & Distinctive Collections

Mann Library Special CollectionsMann Library’s Rare and Distinctive (RAD) collections actually encompass all of Mann’s collections housed in the Mann stacks, the Library Annex, and especially Mann’s vault which contains more than 17,000 volumes, many of which contain hand-colored illustrations, engravings and lithographs. These materials are too rare, valuable or fragile to be housed in the regular stacks.

All members of the community, both off and on campus, are welcome to visit our quiet and comfortable reading room. You do not need to be affiliated with Cornell to visit. Rare & Distinctive Collections can be visited by appointment Monday Through Friday, 9am-4pm. If possible, we prefer 24 hours notice but will do our best to accommodate your schedule.

Once you have the call number of the book you would like to view, make an appointment to visit the collections using the simple registration form. This form provides us with basic contact info to confirm your appointment or clarify your research needs.

Phillips Beekeeping

Phillips Beekeeping Collection medallion

An endowment named in honor of apiculturist and Cornell professor Dr. Everett Franklin Phillips (1878-1951) supports the world’s largest and most valuable collection of books and manuscripts on bees and beekeeping. The Phillips Beekeeping Collection endowment, established in the mid-1920s, is Mann Library’s oldest endowment, originally funded by New York State beekeepers and royalties received from the Dyce Honey Patent.

Russian-language materials comprise a small subset yielding a surprising amount of rich information related to beekeeping through almost two centuries of Russian History. More information about those can be found in a separate Rare Russian Beekeeping LibGuide.

Many titles are online as part of The Hive and the Honeybee digital collection.

Language of Flowers

Language of Flowers banner

Our remarkable Language of Flowers Collection was donated to the library by award-winning garden writer Isabel Zucker ’26. The 147 volumes in this collection include many early 19th-century texts on the art of expressing emotions, sentiments, and moral lessons through floral arrangements. They are a valuable resource for researchers in Victorian culture, horticulture as art, and women’s lifestyles.

Many titles are online as part of The Language of Flowers collection; these also make up much of the Biodiversity Heritage Library’s comprehensive Language of Flowers collection.

Lace and Lace Making

 A History of Lace scan

Due in part to it's early Home Economics program (now the College of Human Ecology) Cornell has one of the country's largest collections of materials related to lace and lace making outside of a museum. Many of these are housed in Mann Library's Special Collections vault, and/or available online via it's Home Economics Archive: Research, Tradition and History (HEARTH) digital collection.

Rice Poultry

Cassells White LeghornsThe Rice Poultry Collection, named after Cornell professor James E. Rice, America’s first professor of poultry husbandry, is a major repository of information on poultry science. Over 800 pre-1900 volumes, the earliest and rarest works in the poultry collection, are housed in the Mann vault.