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Manuscript collection at the UA holds Arizona's history

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The University of Arizona's Special Collections collects documents from all over the world, including a manuscript collection, which hold precious pieces of Arizona and Southwestern borderlands history.

With roughly 900 different manuscripts, Special Collections has been able to provide important records of Arizona's early explorers and pioneers.

“This was kind of the end of the world for everybody,” said Roger Myers, associate librarian at the University of Arizona. “What we have becomes very important.”

Some of the earliest documents to come to UA are the “Papers of the Oury Family,” an early Anglo-Arizonan family who was very influential and involved with Arizona territorial issues, according to library documents.

Myers said these papers are exceptionally interesting because an Oury family member, William S. Oury, was a Confederate and a participant in the Camp Grant Massacre where around 100 Apache women and children were killed.

One piece is a 25-page handwritten speech by William S. Oury from 1885 where he defends and describes the massacre as a part of the “peace and progress of our Apache cursed land.”

The papers span from 1780 to 1933 and include letters, yellowed newspaper clippings, land deeds and a large group of fragile photographs that have to be handled with gloves.

“To have this many at this time period is just marvelous,” Myers said.

Besides the Oury Family's papers, Special Collections also has documents from other early Arizonan explorers and pioneers like Father Kino and John Clum.

Special Collections is located on the UA campus and open to the general public. Visitors are asked to store their belongings in lockers before entering, to avoid destroying any documents. Library hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Click here for more information about Special Collections at the University of Arizona.

Written by Casie Vogel

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