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Archives & Special Collections

Archives and Special Collections catalog and preserve physical items in the Library. Most collections are unique to Drake and cannot be found elsewhere.

Most collections represent donations from Drake alumni, faculty and other persons with ties to the University.  Some other collections include documents and papers from University departments.

Access the finding aids to our individual collections on the right. To view all of our finding aids, click here: Finding Aids Home.

If you have materials that you wish to have evaluated for inclusion in our Special Collections and Archives, please contact

Claudia Frazer
(515) 271-3776

Archival Collections Finding Aids


Drake Agency Files

Our Drake Agency files contain articles, memos, photos, flyers and the like for Drake departments, buildings, offices, events and publications. Contact Mark Stumme for more information or to get access to the folders.

To see whom you can find in our Agency Files go here: Access the Finding Aid.

Drake Biography Files

Cowles Library has long been the home of numerous biography files on a combination of Drake faculty, alumni, and administrators. Approximately 3,360 files in this project have now all been archived. Several files have a “biography sheet”, and many also have accompanying newspaper articles, campus announcements or memos, and photographs.

To see whom you can find in our Biography Files go here: Access the Finding Aid.


Drakeapedia: Building a Living Archive, Fall 2011

“Drakeapedia: Building a Living Archive” is a First Year Seminar (FYS022) taught at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa since 2010. The seminar is designed for students to learn more about Drake’s rich history by discovering resources in Cowles Library’s Special Collections, creating content using wiki technology, and capturing history by conducting oral histories. Archived here, are the 2011 student memories in the form of diary letters, memorabilia, and photographs.

Access the Finding Aid


The Charles Preston Howard Collection

Cowles Library has archived the personal papers of Charles P. Howard Sr. (1880-1965). Howard was born in Des Moines and received his law degree from Drake University in 1920.

A gifted lawyer who never lost a capital trial, Howard also co-founded the National Bar Association in 1925.  He was an Iowa Bystander columnist in the 1920s, and later published the Iowa Observer newspaper in 1939.

This collection includes a wide variety of newspaper and journal articles, photographs, and legal and personal correspondence.  Access the Finding Aid


C. Pat Place Jazz Collection

Cowles Library has archived and cataloged an extensive collection of jazz materials collected by C. Pat Place and his brother, Robert “Bob” Place (Drake ’48).  The collection was gifted to Cowles Library by son and nephew, Richard Place, also a Drake University alum.

Several binders of personal notes and commentaries resulting from years of researching the world of jazz reflect the Place’s passion for this original, American musical genre. Accompanying the binders, are nearly 700 jazz-related items, including: books, CDs, cassettes, LPs & 78s, as well as movies.

Access the Finding Aid to the archived notes and commentaries.

Access the list of cataloged books and media.


The Dorman Hundling Silent Film Sheet Music Archive

Cowles Library has archived a unique and significant collection of music written or arranged to accompany silent film. Founded in 1981 at Drake University, this archive contains over 6,000 titles with scores and parts, the nucleus of the collection coming from the Hundling family’s Capitol Theater in Newton, Iowa.

The scores (in folders) are in order by number assigned by the longtime curator of the collection, Drake University professor emeritus of music, Dr. James Luke, and taken from the collection’s digital database identifying title, composer, arranger, publisher, date of publication, place of publication, mood, and provenance.

Access the Finding Aid.


W. Dean Eastman Collections

Drake alum W. Dean Eastman has given Cowles Library almost 1,400 books and items (books, rare publications, manuscripts, periodical issues, correspondence, ledgers and diaries) all dealing with the history of the New England area. Containing primary and secondary resources, this unique collection contains everything from an 1893 treatise on the ice harvesting industry to a more recently published book on the hidden ruins of “abandoned” New England.

This collection, along with a complementary collection of the personal papers of Dean Eastman, are both housed in Special Collections and can be searched at: W. Dean Eastman is the recipient of both the 1991 Drake Alumni Achievement Award and the 1994 Drake School of Education Outstanding Achievement Award.


The Cowles / Kruidenier Collection

Cowles Library holds a significant collection of letters, papers and photographs from the personal files of John Cowles, Gardner Cowles, Jr. (Mike), and David Kruidenier, Jr.

The finding aid for this collection can be accessed here Go To Cowles Family Papers Collection.