Special Collections

Special collections

The Special Collections collecting area of the College Archives several topical collections with few or no connections to the history of Williams College.

Rare book collections

Special Collections maintains materials acquired by the College Library that are deemed rare and/or difficult to replace due to their value, age, condition, format or subject matter. In addition, the department collects books and pamphlets, from primarily the 18th century through the present, in such topical areas as:

  • William Cullen Bryant
  • the French and Indian War
  • life, especially missionary activities and education, in 19th-century Hawaii
  • slavery and abolition in the United States
  • international law and diplomacy

Special Collections also maintains the libraries of the Philologian and Philotechnican Societies, comprising titles acquired by the student members of this literary and debating club.

Paul Whiteman Collection

The department collects material that documents directly the life and career of Paul Whiteman, and may acquire collections pertaining to the careers of associated composers, arrangers and band members as they relate to Whiteman. Such material may include manuscripts, pictorial material, motion picture film and videos, sound recordings, ephemera and research materials.

Shaker Collection

Special Collections acquires material produced from the 18th through the 20th centuries both by and about the Shakers. Acquisitions may include manuscripts, photographs, microforms, printed material and ephemera, and are especially sought in the areas of:

  • general Shaker theology
  • the history of the New Lebanon community
  • spirit messages
  • Shaker hymnals