The Manuscripts Division holds over 2,000 collections of primary textual materials on Oklahoma and the West. These collections offer unique opportunities for scholarly research in all areas of the social sciences as they relate to the history and culture of the Trans-Mississippi West and American Indians. Among the types of original materials in the manuscript collections are diaries and journals, personal and official correspondence, literary manuscripts, business records, and scrapbooks. The subjects covered by these collections are diverse, and include records of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma, expansion and settlement of the American West, and businesses that contributed to the development of the Trans-Mississippi West region.
The Manuscripts Division also administers collections of other materials, including maps, sound recordings, and posters, as well as the University of Oklahoma Archives:
- The Manuscripts Division holds over 5,200 maps of Oklahoma, Indian Territory, and surrounding areas. These maps document the history and development of Oklahoma from its inception as Indian Territory in 1836 to its present status as the 46th state in the Union. Of special interest are maps that show the locations of the Indian nations within Oklahoma; original Sanborn Fire Insurance maps for selected Oklahoma cities; and maps that show the development of transportation routes through the Oklahoma region.
- The sound recordings number 2,400 cassette tapes, compact discs, and reels of Native American songs and folklore, and oral histories by Oklahoma pioneers. Also included are audio tapes of the popular program Indians for Indians Hour, hosted by Don Whistler on the University of Oklahoma's radio station WNAD from 1942 to the early 1970s.
- Over 800 posters are held by the Manuscripts Division, depicting advertisements for wild west shows, patent medicines, Native American art, and Oklahoma political candidates, as well as American propaganda posters for World Wars I and II. Contemporary posters featuring University of Oklahoma events are also included.
- The University Archives holds many series of official records produced by the colleges and administrative departments of the University of Oklahoma from 1890 to the present. For example, the official papers of OU presidents are housed in the University Archives, beginning with those of the first president, David Ross Boyd. Also included are official publications of the university, such as yearbooks, commencement programs, student newspapers, football programs, telephone directories, and general catalogs.