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This is a guide for doing research in education.

Historic Textbook Resource


Purdue's Historic Textbook Collection

The Purdue Libraries has a collection of historic textbooks, the Shermis Collection, in the Print Repository.

  • Size of collection:              
    • Approximately 625-700 textbooks 
  • Call numbers:                   
    • TS, then brief Dewey Decimal number. 
  • Subject emphasis: 
    •  About 50% are related to history (Dewey 900's),
    • About 25% are related to social studies (Dewey 300's). 
  • Date range:     
    • From 1800 to 1985. 
  • Level:  
    • Emphasis on secondary level.

To search the Catalog for these textbooks:

  •  Go to the Catalog:
  •  Then go to Advanced Search
  •  Choose Call number for your search option and then phrase.  (Be careful not to choose “Starts” because that defaults to a title search.)  Then type TS in the search window under Call number.  
  • You can narrow your search by typing in a word in the subject line like history or political science. 

    Textbooks are all in our Repository.  The Print Repository maintains and circulates low-use library materials. Staff ship most requested items within two business days. The Repository is a closed facility; please contact staff at



Indiana State Library

ISL doesn't have a special collection of textbooks but you can search the catalog for certain texts.  They do have reports and publications from the State Board of Education and the Indiana Textbook Commission.

Indiana State University's Library -- Cunningham Collection

Indiana State University's Cunningham Memorial Library has a defined textbook collection.  

The the Cunningham Collection was originally envisioned as Monuments of American Education with  the works of Dewey, Barnard, Hall, James, Mann, and Thorndike , etc. The collection also came to include editions of early educational journals, notable nineteenth-century textbooks, books on practice, and even some early children's books.  Textbooks are no longer being added  and those already housed in the collection will be transferred eventually either to the Floyd Family Collection or to the Walker Collection.

For holdings check  FusionPlus Advanced. A keyword phrase search on "Cunningham Collection" will retrieve the entire cataloged collection. Combining this phrase with other terms will narrow the results.

University of Illinois Curriculum Collection

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a historic Curriculum Collection that includes materials dating back to the early 1800s. Most of these materials are textbooks, but some older curriculum guides are also available. The strength of the historical portion of the collection is in materials published from 1880 to 1980, although older materials are also available. Textbook series, primers, geographies, arithmetic books, and many other areas are included in the historical segment of the collection. Over 30,000 cataloged materials are available and listed in the Library's online catalog.

 Some readers do not circulate through interlibrary loan however due to condition and vulnerability.

I would be happy to work with the graduate student if assistance is needed.  Nancy P. O'Brien, Professor, University Library, Head, Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  E-mail:  Bio:  Library URL: