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Materials in the Smith College Special Collections

How do I find materials?

You can find Special Collections materials using our Finding Aids (collection guides) and Discover Advanced Search (libraries catalog).

Smith College Finding Aids Finding aids to over 1,000 Smith College archival and manuscript collections. Provides in-depth information about a collection, and a box listing of the materials.
Discover Advanced Search Search subject, keyword, author, title, or date range. Catalog records vary in detail. They are the best place to find information for rare book materials, while finding aids are the best place to find information on archival collections. Use search options to limit Library Location to "Smith College Special Collections."

Archival Collections

Smith College Finding Aids

If you are new to our archival collections, the best place for you to start is with our finding aids (collection guides), as that is the same resource staff have access to for collection information. 

  • You can search the names of related individuals, events, or other organizations to see what may be in the collection. 

To search a specific collection, use the navigation bar to the right of the page (or at the bottom, depending on your screen size). 

  • Click on the arrows to expand each section to see the names of folders or groups of folders under each series or topic.
  • To see previously digitized material, search "digital_object" in the search bar at the top of the navigation bar on the main page of the individual collection. 

Make sure to read the Scope and Content notes as well as the Biographical/Historical note on the main page to get a sense of the materials and subjects covered in the collection.

Search Tips

  • To search an exact phrase, use double quotes. (e.g. "Mountain Day" or “Smith College Class of 1922”)
  • Searches are not case sensitive.
  • To exclude a term from your search, put a minus sign in front of it. (For example, the search “social work” -school will find materials with the phrase “social work” but without the word school.)
  • A search for w*m*n will give you results with "woman" "women" "womyn" "wimmin", etc.
  • Create advanced searches by clicking the + button to add a new line to your search.
  • Use the sections in the top bar to browse repositories, collections, digital objects, etc.

Rare Books and Manuscripts

For books and manuscripts:

  • Select the "Discover Advanced" tab on the Libraries' home page and check the box for "Catalog Only"
  • In the results list, under "Library Location" in the left panel, select "Smith College Special Collections"

Digitized Content

In the Finding Aids

Smith College Finding Aids To see previously digitized material, search "digital_object" in the search bar at the top of the navigation bar on the main page of the individual collection.

On the Website

Smith Digital Collections Smith College Special Collections offers digital resources that can assist your research from a distance. These resources represent a sampling of the materials in the Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History, College Archives, and Mortimer Rare Book Collection.
Online Exhibits Exhibits on select topics represented in Special Collections. Includes images of collection materials and contextual information.
Compass: Digital Collections Digital images from the collections at Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire colleges. Images from Smith College represent materials in the College Archives, Mortimer Rare Book Collection, and Sophia Smith Collection.

College Archives

College Archives Digital Collections Image galleries, online exhibitions, and documentation of significant events in the history of Smith College.
Digitized College Publications Class Books, curriculum catalogs, Smith Alumnae Quarterly, and other publications produced by Smith College, past and present.

Mortimer Rare Book Collection

Mortimer Rare Book Collection Selections A selection of digitized materials pages from various printed books and manuscripts (hosted on Artstor; Smith login required when off-campus).
Woolf Online A collection of materials related to Virginia Woolf’s writing of “To the Lighthouse,” in the late 1920s. Included are holograph drafts, diary entries and letters, early reviews, selected essays and photographs of the Stephen family, Cornwall and Talland House, all of which inform the setting and characters of the novel.

Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History

Sophia Smith Collection Digital Collections Select digitized materials (including AV) from the SSC and databases featuring digitized SSC material.

Research Guides

We are always in the process of expanding our research guides, which  provide overviews of particular subjects and the related collections represented in Smith College Special Collections. Please note, these guides are not comprehensive and presently reflect most-sought after collections, but serve as a starting point for your research.


College Archives Biographical Research Resources

Oral Histories Special Collections Resources

Rare Books and Manuscripts in Smith College Special Collections


Sylvia Plath Special Collections Resources

Gloria Steinem Special Collections Resources


Ms. Magazine Special Collections Resources

YWCA of the U.S.A.

Planned Parenthood Special Collections Resources

By Subject

Lesbian Pulp Fiction

Women's Suffrage in the U.S. Special Collections Resources

World War I Special Collections Resources

World War II Special Collections Resources