History of the Hargrett Library

DeRenne Coat of Arms
De Renne Coat of Arms

The Hargrett Library traces its origins to the acquisition of the Wymberly Jones De Renne Library by the University of Georgia in 1938. The De Renne collection encompasses 10,000 items dated 1700 to 1931 and, at the time of its purchase, it constituted the largest and most important assemblage of books and manuscripts relating to the history of Georgia as colony and state.

Another formative collection of the Hargrett Library is that of our namesake, Felix Hargrett, a businessman, book collector, and University of Georgia alumnus who, over a period of four decades, donated 12,000 books and 10,000 historical manuscripts on Georgia history and culture.

With a growing collection of rare materials and the dedication of the Ilah Dunlap Little Memorial Library on campus in 1953, the UGA Libraries established a Special Collections Department with John Wyatt Bonner as its director.

Portrait of Felix Hargrett, a gentleman with gray hair, sitting in a personal library, reading a book
Portrait of Felix Hargrett

In 1986, the University of Georgia Libraries reconstituted its collections of rare books, Georgiana, and historical manuscripts as the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library in honor of one of its most generous donors. In 2000, the University Archives and Records Management Department was reorganized as a division of the Hargrett Library. In 2012, the Richard B. Russell Building was dedicated as the new home of the Special Collections Libraries, providing state-of-the-art facilities for the Hargrett Library to expand and improve upon its support for research, teaching, exhibition, and public engagement.