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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Special Collections - Lloyd Sealy Library: About the Special Collections

This is a guide to the Manuscript Collections, Rare Books and John Jay College Archives in the Special Collections at the Lloyd Sealy Library of John Jay College of Criminal Justice.


The Special Collections Room is open for in-person consultations by appointment. See current availability here.

Contact us at libspcoll @ at least one week in advance of your request for an appointment. 

Appointments are not available  whenever the Library is closed (click here to check our hours).

All items  located in our catalog as 'Special Collections Room' require an appointment for supervised consultation in the Special Collections Room.  We do not have the staffing resources to provide access to materials in our collections that can be found elsewhere, we recommend that you check WorldCat to determine if a published work could be accessed at another library.

We also provide immediate access to materials that have previously been digitized. Please also consult our historical research guides to The NYPD, NY Prisons & Jails and NY Criminal Courts

and our Digital Collections.

About the Special Collections

The John Jay College Library Special Collections hold unique material related to the mission of the Sealy Library and John Jay College. Materials are in published and unpublished form including books, broadsides, pamphlets, prints, serials and archival materials.

Access to Special Collections

The Lloyd Sealy Library Special Collections  welcomes undergraduate, graduate, and public researchers who want to consult our collections.  Please contact the Special Collections Librarian at  libspcoll [at] or  ebelcher [at]   for ideas about how our unique materials can support your research interests. All Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book items must be consulted in our reading room by making an appointment in advance of your visit.

All users are required to fill out an application for research, present valid identification upon their first visit to Special Collections and sign the visitors log daily. Pencils only or laptops are allowed for taking notes. Handheld cameras [without flash] are recommended for photographs which may be used for research purposes only see this useful guide on Cameras in the Archives. We do allow researchers to take photographs with their own devices for research purposes only. We suggest the Trophy App for this purpose Researchers must ask permission before publishing, posting or otherwise broadcasting copies of any materials in our collections.

It is recommended that researchers complete secondary research on a topic before embarking upon primary research with the archival collections.  If this is your first time doing archival research, we recommend that you consult the SAA e-publication Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research and our Introduction to Archival Research page.

Collecting Policy

We actively acquire historically significant materials that document fields related to criminal justice and the history and activities of John Jay College. Archival materials related to the history of John Jay College are generally transferred from college offices. Unpublished manuscript and published materials are acquired by donation or purchase. Please contact the special collections at libspcoll @ with questions about transferring or donating materials to Special Collections.

Closed Special Collections

Unique and rare materials are available for supervised study in our Special Collections Room. Researchers who wish to use these collections can make an appointment with the Special Collections Librarian.

  • Rare Book Collections. The library holds thousands of rare books and pamphlets in criminal justice and other related subjects. Most of these monographs are cataloged in OneSearch
  • Manuscript Collections. Special Collections holds several collections of historical personal papers and records of organizations and government agencies involved in Criminal Justice. Finding aids are available for selected collections.
  • John Jay College Archives. Special Collections holds approximately 200 linear feet of records documenting the history and activities of John Jay College since its inception. Finding aids are available for portions of the collections.

Digital Special Collections

Open Special Collections

These unique collections must be used in the library, but are available whenever the library is open (non-CUNY affiliates must request a pass to enter the College and Library). These items are all cataloged in CUNY+ and include:

  • Police Department Annual Reports (United States and International).
  • John Jay College and CUNY publications, including yearbooks, minutes of the Board of Trustees, Faculty Senate and reports.
  • CUNY Criminal Justice Program PhD Dissertations and John Jay MA Theses.
  • Microforms of rare and unique research materials held by other repositories.
  • Historic monographs and serials too fragile to circulate.

Articles about the Special Collections   For more information about our Special Collections, please read:

Belcher, Ellen. (2008)“Crime in the Library: the Special Collections of the Lloyd Sealy Library, John Jay College of Criminal Justice.” Metropolitan Archivist,  Summer 2008.

Belcher, Ellen and Ellen Sexton.  (2008) "Digitizing criminals: web delivery of a century on the cheap." OCLC Systems & Services,  24/2: 116 - 132

Egan, Nancy (2007) "The Lloyd Sealy Library of John Jay College of Criminal Justice: Academic Library, Special Library, or Both? " Behavioral and Social Sciences Librarian,  25/2: 1-22.

Also the Special Collections are regularly featured in Classified Information, the Lloyd Sealy Library's Newsletter.


Contact us

Email us at

 libspcoll [at]

Special Collections in the News

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