Marginalia — the act of producing comments, notes, scribbles, doodles and the like in the margins of books — is a centuries-old and common practice. At the University of Arizona, Special Collections maintains a number of historic and rare books and manuscripts with such scribbles in the margins.
Notes written by famed Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei and to American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson are among those found in books at Special Collections, which provides access to rare and unique materials for scholars and members of the public.
In some cases, centuries-old annotations provide important insights into the editing and review process of historic books, while others document the impressions of readers as they made their way through texts.
Special Collections is the holder of primary research materials largely related to literature, the sciences, and Arizona and Southwestern history. Included in its holdings are rare books, printed materials, manuscript collections, photographs and maps. To plan a visit to Special Collections, submit a request online.
Photography by Aengus Anderson/University Libraries