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Mortimer Rare Book Collection

a student with long hair touching a rare book object

The Mortimer Rare Book Collection houses the college's rare books and literary manuscripts. Broad in scope, it includes works from all time periods and in subject areas as diverse as ancient history and zoology. Among the highlights of the collections are the papers of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf.

Search Tools

Discover Advanced Search

This is the best place to find information for rare book materials.

  • Search subject, keyword, author, title, or date range.
  • In the results list, under "Library Location" in the left panel, select "Smith College Special Collections"
Special Collections Finding Aids

Includes finding aids for some manuscript collections.

  • Search names of individuals, organizations or events.
  • Click the arrows to see the folders under each topic.
  • Read the Scope and Content note as well as the Biographical/Historical note to learn about the materials and subjects in the collection.

Digitized Content

Special Collections Finding Aids To review digitized material available for each collection, click on the "View Digital Material" tab for each finding aid.
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). Select “Browse Institutional Collections,” then “Smith College Mortimer Rare Book Collection.”
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.
Digital Scriptorium The Mortimer Rare Book Collection contributions to the Digital Scriptorium, an educational consortium of American libraries with collections of pre-modern manuscripts or manuscripts made in the tradition of books before printing.

Research Guides

Rare Books and Manuscripts in Smith College Special Collections

Sylvia Plath Special Collections Resources

Lesbian Pulp Fiction

Collection Development

For information about collection development for the Mortimer Rare Book Collection, please see the Collection Development Strategy.

Book Studies Concentration

The book studies concentration connects students with the exceptional resources of the Mortimer Rare Book Collection and the wealth of book artists and craftspeople in Western Massachusetts. Through classroom study, field projects and independent research, students learn about the history, art and technology of the book. The book is broadly defined to extend from oral memory and papyrus scrolls to manuscripts, printed books, and digital media. Read more about the book studies concentration.

Schedule a Class Visit

For assistance in scheduling a class visit, please contact Shannon K. Supple (, 413-585-2906) or email We look forward to exploring the possibility of collaboration.


Contact with questions regarding the Mortimer Rare Book Collection.