The Wyles Collection contains nearly 40,000 volumes on a variety of subjects, including: Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, slavery, abolition, Western and Pacific expansion, travel in America, and the American West. There are also several hundred separate manuscript collections and over 1000 Small Collections, containing correspondence, diaries, and photos of individuals and families, many with Civil War connections. There are records of Civil War military units, early maps and atlases of North America and California, and 19th century maps depicting the Civil War and U.S. expansion. It is the largest collection on the West Coast devoted exclusively to Lincoln, the American Civil War and its origins, and American westward expansion.
The William Wyles Collection in the Department of Special Collections is named after William Wyles, a successful businessman and an avid collector of Lincoln books and other related memorabilia. He was a very energetic and tenacious collector, the result being that his personal collection soon outgrew his capacity to store it. In 1928, William Wyles worked out an arrangement with Clarence Phelps, a past president of UCSB's antecedent, Santa Barbara College, to maintain the growing collection. It was then that Mr. Wyles presented his Lincoln Library to Santa Barbara College to provide a room for the collection, catalog it, and make it available to faculty and students. For his part, Wyles would continue to purchase materials to add to the collection. Upon his death in 1946, Wyles left his estate in trust as an endowment for the collection, to guarantee its future growth. It is largely due to this endowment that UCSB continues to be able to develop the collection.
*Much of the information about William Wyles is drawn from Jay Monaghan's publications. Jay Monaghan was a consultant to the William Wyles Collection.
Collection includes Civil War Diaries, Civil War Muster Rolls, Confederate Collection (correspondence, documents, autographs, photographs, engravings, currency, stamps, song sheets), Daughters of Union Veterans, Gold Rush Sermons (from the Sonora California area, 1852-1863), Campbell Grant (patriotic Civil War covers), Mortimer Leggett (correspondence and documents of a Civil War general), Farnham Lyon (correspondence from Libbie Custer), Jay Monaghan (correspondence and files relating to research and writings of a Lincoln, Civil War, and western history scholar, and longtime consultant to the Wyles Collection), Samuel Brinkerhoff appointment documents signed by President Lincoln and two original letters written by Theodore Roosevelt to Thomas Driscoll. Also some individual manuscript items relating to Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, and William Tecumseh Sherman.
The Wyles collection contains a diverse span of materials as manuscript collections or books. To see a partial list of material view here.
- Lincoln Scrapbooks, ca. 1860s-1930s. (Wyles Mss 93).
- Shepard (Isaac F.) Collection, ca. 1830s-1880s. (Wyles Mss 74).
- Chin (Frank) Papers, 1940-2001. (Wyles Mss 103).
- Slave Documents Collection, ca. 1711-1878. Bills of sale, manumissions, notes and receipts for slave hire, accounts for medical service, a property tax return, an estate list, correspondence, and essays. (Wyles Mss 75).
- Sisquoc Ranch Photograph Album, ca. 1899-1900. Approximately 76 b/w images and handwritten captions. (Wyles SC 588).
- Western History
- Past exhibit highlights on Abraham Lincoln: Slavery and Emancipation, The President and the Man, The Civil War, Lincoln Portraits, Lincoln Documents, Assassination and Aftermath
- William Wyles Papers (Wyles Mss 31)
- Wyles Newspaper Collection (Wyles Mss 127)
For information on using the collections please contact the Special Collections reading room staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (805) 893-3062.