Williams College Archives was established to appraise, collect, organize, describe, preserve, and make available the College’s records of permanent administrative, legal, fiscal and historical value. It facilitates the efficient management of the recorded information produced by the College’s units and offices. The Archives serves as a repository for non-official historical materials relating to the history of the College, its founders, faculty, students, administrators, staff and alumni. The department administers several of the College’s special collections, most notably the Paul Whiteman Collection, the Shaker Collection, and Sawyer Library’s rare book collections.
As part of its mission, the Archives provides facilities for the retention, preservation, and research use of its collections. The department serves as a research center for the study of the College’s history, and for the investigation of select topics of regional, national or international significance. Collections are made available, College and donor restrictions permitting, to members of the College community, as well as undergraduate and graduate students, scholars, and the general public.
The Archives promotes knowledge and understanding of the origins, programs and goals of the College, and strengthens the College’s curriculum in offering primary historical sources for study. The department accomplishes these goals through the acquisition, processing and preservation of collections; its reference and research services; and such outreach activities as the development and installation of exhibitions, the production of publications in a variety of formats, and offering tours, classes and workshops dealing with topics such as the history of the College, research methods, preservation management and conservation techniques, and archival programming.