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Research & Collections

Student working with Special Collections

Special Collections contains rich resources for historical and archival research. Our collections include many primary sources, which provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded at a later moment. Because of their uniqueness and fragility, the materials we steward do not circulate, but are available in our reading room to anyone who is willing to abide by our regulations. For those unable to visit our on-site location, our staff is happy to provide assistance.

Please see our Find Primary Sources research guide for more information about primary source resources available at Smith.

You can discover our collections through the following tools:

Finding Aids

Over 1000 finding aids to archival and manuscript collections in the Five Colleges. Provides in-depth information about a collection, and a box listing of the materials.

Five College Library Catalog

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 Advanced search to limit LOCATION to "SC Special Collections." If looking for archival materials, you may also wish to limit FORMAT to "Archives & Manuscripts."

Smith Digital Collections

Smith Digital Collections is a gateway to digital collections and online exhibitions unique to Smith College. The collections feature images, audio, video, and text from multiple repositories and platforms. These include the Libraries’ Special Collections, the Museum of Art, the Imaging Center, the Botanic Garden, and select scholarly collections.

Collection Lists

Lists of collections that are part of Special Collections including College Archives, the Mortimer Rare Book Collection, and the Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History.

Research Guides

Guides for various topics that are available both online and in paper versions at the Smith College Special Collections Reading Room.

Archive-It Web Archiving Service

Archived web content for Smith College including the Libraries and Special Collections.