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Special Collections Reading Room

Reading Room


Welcome to the Special Collections Reading Room. Materials from the following collections are available upon request:


We are open to Smith community members on a walk-in basis. We strongly encourage all visiting researchers to make an appointment 24 hours in advance. 

Visiting researchers are welcome to access the Special Collections Reading Room by booking an appointment 24 hours in advance. Please note that access to Neilson Library is subject to change as local and campus protocols change. Check Library Services During Covid 19 for the latest updates regarding access to buildings and services.

Book An Appointment

Masks are currently optional and welcome. We expect that you will delay your visit if you are experiencing any COVID-like symptoms.

Policies & Procedures

All researchers register upon arrival. Once registered, you may fill out call slips for the materials you wish to see. 

Researchers are welcome to use the following in the Reading Room:

  • Pencils
  • Laptops, phones, and other electronic devices for note taking and photography
  • Loose-leaf paper
  • Notebooks

Researchers can discuss their research interests with any staff member at the reference desk. Please explore our collections using our online finding aids prior to your visit.

Coats, umbrellas, bags, pens and laptop cases must be stored in our locker area. Food and drink are not permitted inside the Reading Room. 

Requesting Materials Stored Off Site

While the majority of our collections only require a few minutes to access, some are maintained in our remote repository and may take up to one week to retrieve. Researchers are strongly encouraged to contact our staff at with a list of materials you plan to review in advance of your visit so that any off site materials can be available when you arrive. 

Please note that some materials are restricted due to issues of privacy, state and federal regulations, and issues of fragility and preservation. These restrictions are outlined in the finding aid whenever possible.

See Rights & Reproductions for information about photocopies.

Research Equipment

Non-flash photography of materials is allowed during your research. Special Collections has other equipment available for researchers to borrow free of charge in the Reading Room. Please discuss your needs with a reference desk staff member upon arrival, or write in advance to

Policy for Access to Oral Histories

Oral History Releases

Access to oral history interviews is governed by agreements between the person telling their story (the narrator), the person conducting the interview (the interviewer), the organization responsible for administering interviews, and Smith College Special Collections. Because some oral history interviews contain sensitive information, one or several parties may have requested that the interview will not immediately be available for research. Information about which interviews are accessible for research and which are not can be found in our online finding aids. If all parties have agreed to make an oral history available, we can provide access.

We have been collecting oral history interviews for many years. In some cases, our information about whether all parties have consented to make an oral history available may be ambiguous. If you would like access to an interview to which we do not have agreements, we will do our best to contact the narrator and interviewer to obtain a release. This process may take several weeks or even months, depending on how difficult it is to contact all parties. If we cannot secure permission, access to oral histories may be restricted until all parties are deceased.

Stakeholder Rights

If you have participated in an oral history interview that is now at Smith College Special Collections and you have questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at We are eager to respect the interests of oral history participants.