May 20, 2022

Special Collections: 25 Boxes of Velvet Underground Material Donated to Cornell University Library

From the Cornell Chronicle:

At a formal dinner for the New York Society for Clinical Psychiatry almost 50 years ago, black-tie clad psychiatrists were astonished by a musical act called The Velvet Underground and their brand-new singer, Nico.

Today, rare photographs of this event – along with a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind Velvet Underground posters and fliers, unreleased recordings, handwritten lyrics, news clippings and more – have landed in a Cornell University Library vault three stories below the Arts Quad, where researchers can study the band’s outsized impact, from 1960s and 1970s counterculture to today’s mainstream.

Twenty-five boxes of Velvet Underground material recently were donated to the library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections by collector and author Johan Kugelberg. It is the largest archive of Velvet Underground material held by an institution, according to the library’s rare and manuscript curator, Katherine Reagan.


Highlights from the collection include an oversized poster promoting the Velvet Underground’s first album, believed to be the only surviving copy; notes from Lou Reed, who died in 2013; a handwritten set list for a performance at Poor Richard’s in Chicago; foreign and domestic bootleg recordings; and images of performances taken by prominent contemporary photographers.

“This collection includes things that are unique, and expensive, and scarce,” Reagan said. “Collectors do all this work of gathering materials together into a meaningful whole, so scholars will have the ability to examine the evidence and make their own assessments.”


The collection, currently still in boxes, will be cataloged and described in the months ahead, and soon will become freely accessible to researchers and the public, Reagan said.

Kugelberg said he hopes the Velvets collection will be used similarly to the Cornell Hip Hop Collection, which is accessible to everyone from high school students to professors.

Read the Complete Article to Learn More About the Collection

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.