Collection Selector

photo of Donald Altschiller

Donald Altschiller

Librarian for History, Religion, and Military Affairs

Mugar Memorial Library

General Purpose of the Collection

The History collection supports the undergraduate and graduate curriculum and faculty research needs of the History Department in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In addition, the collection supports the programs and disciplines in which an historical perspective is employed. While the collection is broad-based, several areas and historical periods, including United States, medieval and modern European history, are emphasized. The geographical and chronological strengths of the collection include European medieval history, the history of France, the U. S. Civil War, twentieth-century American cultural and intellectual history, and twentieth-century international and diplomatic history. The collection holdings have been increasing in the following subject areas: Colonial American history; Jewish history and diaspora studies; African diaspora, especially African-American history; and modern Chinese history. The library has a representative collection in most fields, periods, and genres of historical writing and study.

The History Department offers an undergraduate concentration leading to a BA in History. The Department also has a thriving graduate program in American, European, and African History leading to the MA and PhD in History.

Members of the History Department are closely affiliated with a wide range of interdisciplinary research, teaching and publishing programs, including the Core Curriculum, the African American Studies Program, the African Studies Center, the American and New England Studies Program, the Center for International Relations, the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies, the Historical Society, the Institute for American Political History, the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs, the International History Institute, the Interdisciplinary Italian Studies Program, the Latin American Interdisciplinary Studies Program, the Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, Russian and East European Interdisciplinary Studies, and the Women’s Studies Program.

Scope of Coverage

Languages collected (primary and selective) or excluded
The collection contains primarily English language materials. A significant number of French, German, and Spanish titles are also acquired. The Interdisciplinary Italian Studies program has increased acquisitions of Italian language historical works. In recent years, the library has been acquiring Hebrew and Yiddish language works.
Geographical areas covered by the collections in terms of intellectual content, publication sources, or both, and specific areas excluded, as appropriate
Traditionally, the collection has emphasized coverage of Europe and the United States. The collection has been increasing its holdings on China and Japan (English language works) and Latin America. As a result of the hiring of three senior African Studies scholars, there has been a concomitant increase in the acquisitions of African diaspora and African-American works; the establishment of a chair in Armenian history and literature has stimulated interest in enhancing our collections in this subject area. The library collection contains fewer volumes in the following geographical areas, which are not generally covered in the History Department curriculum: Canada, Scandinavia, South Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the other Pacific Islands. The African Studies Library collects historical works for its geographical area.
Chronological periods covered by the collection in terms of intellectual content, movements or schools, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate
The History collection primarily covers the medieval and modern era. The Classics Selector is responsible for acquiring works covering Classical times.
Chronological periods collected in terms of publication dates, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate
The History collection primarily acquires recently published works. Older publications are acquired selectively and on request.

General Subject Boundaries and Library Locations

The subject scope of this collection is primarily determined by the following Library of Congress call number ranges. All items in these categories are housed in Mugar Memorial Library.


  • D 1-50 : History (General and Medieval)
  • D 101-1075 : History (General and Medieval)
  • DA : Great Britain
  • DAW 1001-1051 : Central Europe
  • DB : Austria, Liechtenstein, Hungary, Czechoslovakia
  • DC : France, Andorra, Monaco
  • DD : Germany
  • DF 501-936 : Medieval and Modern Greece
  • DG 61-869 : Italy
  • DH-DJ : Netherlands
  • DJK : Eastern Europe
  • DK : former Soviet Union, Poland
  • DL : Northern Europe, Scandinavia
  • DP : Spain, Portugal
  • DQ : Switzerland
  • DR : Balkan Peninsula
  • DS : Middle East and Asia
  • DU-DX : Oceania and Roma (Gypsies)
  • E : United States history (General)
  • F 1-1140 : United States local history and Canada
  • F 1201-3799 : Latin American history

Collected Selectively:

  • C 1-51 : Auxiliary Sciences of History
  • CB : History of Civilization
  • CD : Archives
  • CE : Calendars
  • CR : Heraldry
  • CS : Genealogy/Names
  • DG 987-999 : Malta
  • F 1170 : French America
  • JV 61-152 : Colonies and Colonization-History
  • JV 6021-6033 : Emigration and Immigration- History
  • Z 1201-4980.A-.Z : National Biography
  • Z 6201-6372 : History Bibliography
  • Z 8001-8999 : Personal Bibliography

Collected Very Selectively:

  • CT 93-9999 : Historical biographies
  • DF 951 : Other towns and cities
  • DG 987-999 : Malta
  • F 1170 : French America: Saint Pierre and Miquelon

The History Selector also acquires library materials with an historical focus for the following Boston University institutes and programs: the African-American Studies Program, the American and New England Studies Program, the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies, the Interdisciplinary Italian Studies Program and the Women’s Studies Program. The following topics fall within the purview of the following subject selectors:

Related subjects and Interdisciplinary Relationships

African Studies
The African Studies Selector collects works dealing with the trans-Saharan slave trade; the History Selector acquires works on the trans-Atlantic slave trade and also North African materials if the focus is primarily the history of the Middle East.
The Anthropology Selector collects material on Native American culture and history except for the history of the contacts and relationships between native and European peoples.
The Classics Selector is responsible for acquiring works covering Classical times.
The Economics Selector collects materials on contemporary economic history. Except for major works, the History Selector does not generally acquire works on economic history.
History of Science and Technology
The History Selector selectively acquires works covering major events in American history and culture influenced by advances in technology and science. The General Sciences Selector selectively acquires works on the history and philosophy of science.
Military Affairs
The Military Affairs Selector selectively collects historical military materials.
Political Science
The Political Science Selector generally collects works on diplomacy and international relations regardless of time period. In addition, the Political Science Selector selectively acquires materials on American history for the last 20 years. The History Selector purchases historical works on immigration and emigration; the Political Science Selector generally collects works on governmental and other policy-related issues involving immigration and emigration.
The Religion Selector selectively acquires works on Judaism and Islam; the History Selector acquires materials on Jewish and Islamic history.
The Sociology Selector acquires works dealing with the sociology of immigration and emigration, race relations and women’s studies. The History Selector selectively obtains materials on women’s history and immigration history.

Types of Materials

Books, periodicals, microforms, and reference materials, such as encyclopedias, bibliographies, indexes, and abstracts.
Collected Selectively
Electronic resources.
Not Collected
Audio-visual materials, juvenile literature, textbooks, genealogies, travel guides, dissertations and theses, government documents, and oral histories.

Other On-Campus or Local Resources

The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, located in Mugar Memorial Library, owns a large number of manuscripts, papers and rare books documenting primarily, but not exclusively, American historical events and individuals. Some of the notable collections are: the Abraham Lincoln Collection, the Theodore Roosevelt Collection, the Bortman Collection of Americana, the Historical Manuscript Collection, and the Twentieth Century Archives.