The University of Tulsa is well known for its extensive archival holdings, making it an ideal location for graduate study. The Helmerich Center for American Research at Gilcrease Museum houses the Gilcrease Library and Archive containing more than 100,000 rare books, documents, maps, and unpublished works. The collection includes a vast archive of printed documents dating back to the time of Columbus and detailing Spanish arrival in the New World, as well as documents that tell the stories of the New England colonies, Westward expansion and the experiences of America’s native peoples. The Helmerich Center is also home to the Bob Dylan Archive, which includes over 6,000 items from Dylan’s personal collection, including handwritten manuscripts, notebooks and correspondence, films, videos, photographs and artwork, memorabilia, personal documents, and unrecorded song lyrics and chords.
In addition, Special Collections at the University of Tulsa’s McFarlin Library holds manuscripts, personal papers and first editions that rank alongside those of Harvard, Yale, and the Ransom Humanities Research Center as the preeminent archives of twentieth-century literature in the world. Rare and thorough collections of nineteenth-century fiction and poetry, women’s literature, popular literature, oil patch history, Native American tribal history and law, and Native American literature combine with contemporary holdings to establish McFarlin as a world-class archival library for literary study. Among these distinct and incomparable collections are:
- The James Joyce Collection of Harriet Shaw Weaver which includes early editions with autographs and notes, Augustus John lithographs of Joyce, and Matisse illustrations of Ulysses.
- The Richard Ellmann Papers, which include Ellmann’s research notes and files on Joyce, Yeats, Wilde, and Beckett.
- The Life-Archive of V.S. Naipaul, a vast collection of existing and future manuscripts and papers of the author, including his correspondence, personal and family files and letters, and his annotated reading library.
- The Jean Rhys Archive of virtually all of her surviving manuscripts, personal papers and correspondence.
- The Modern Authors Collection of twentieth-century fiction and poetry manuscripts, correspondence and/or early texts and editions of authors such as Stephen Crane, Margaret Drabble, John Dos Passos, T.S. Eliot, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Fowles, Fugitive Poets (Ransom, Tate, Penn Warren et al), Robert Frost, Robert Graves, Graham Greene, Thom Gunn, Ernest Hemingway, Washington Irving, D.H. Lawrence, Doris Lessing, Malcolm Lowry, Norman Mailer, Katherine Mansfield, Richard Murphy, Ezra Pound, Anthony Powell, Jean Rhys, Laura (Riding) Jackson, Dorothy Richardson, Siegfried Sassoon, Paul Scott, Stevie Smith, Muriel Spark, Gertrude Stein, John Steinbeck, James Stephens, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Taylor, Alice B. Toklas, William Trevor, Kurt Vonnegut, Evelyn Warner, Rebecca West, and Walt Whitman.
- The Proletarian Literature Collection of radical and working-class fiction, poetry, drama and periodicals, which focuses on the Depression years and includes "lost" African American writers.
- The Vietnam War Literature Collection of fiction and poetry by American and African American authors.
- The Edmund Wilson Library representing Wilson’s interests in literature and cultural affairs, including the Nabokov-Wilson letters, and rare hand-printed editions of Anais Nin’s early works.
- The Cyril Connolly Library of "Modern Movement" authors, 1,000 periodicals from the First World War through the 1970s, and numerous letters from Stephen Spender, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, and John Betjeman.
- The Martin Secker Collection of documents and correspondence related to the publication of modernists like Henry James, Thomas Mann, D.H. Lawrence, Compton McKenzie, and Conrad Aiken.
- The Rupert Hart-Davis Library which contains a complete Edmund Blunden collection and a rare collection of First World War poets, including women poets of the period.
- The Edwardian Fiction Collection which includes a large group of little-known popular women writers as well as H.G. Wells, G.K. Chesterton, and John Galsworthy.
- The Factory House Library of Nineteenth-Century Fiction, a complete, intact, circulating library of "popular" fiction from the period 1820-1890 representing democratic trends in fiction. It includes titles by 175 Romantic and Victorian women novelists.
- The Kenneth Hopkins Collection of 5,000 volumes of British and Irish poetry of the late eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.