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Libraries Closed on Wednesday, June 19

The Libraries will be closed on Wednesday, June 19, in observance of Juneteenth.

Student working with a rare book in the Special Collections reading room.

Mortimer Rare Book Collection

Smith College Special Collections

The Mortimer Rare Book Collection includes rare, historical printed books, medieval European manuscripts, literary archives of women writers, artists’ books, and other historical and cultural material texts. As part of Special Collections, these materials support the curriculum of the College and enable us to function as a laboratory for the exploration of material history and culture. The collection scope is chronologically and geographically broad, with substantial holdings in English and American literature, botany, history of science, early children’s literature, fine press books, and artists’ books. Of particular note are substantial holdings of Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, and Mary Shelley.

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.

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

Contact Special Collections

For general inquiries, contact, 413-585-2970.

Elizabeth Myers, Director of Special Collections,




College Archives

Nanci Young, College Archivist

Mortimer Rare Book Collection

Shannon K. Supple, Curator of Rare Books

Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History

TBD, Sophia Smith Archivist