The Special Collections Department advances the mission of Williams College by connecting rare books and manuscripts to teaching, research, and creative expression. The College Archives documents the widest possible range of experiences that inform the history of Williams. The Chapin Library collects books, manuscripts, and other primary sources from antiquity to the present, as a foundation of learning for the Williams liberal arts curriculum.
You can discover some materials from these collections by searching the library catalog and collection guides available through ArchivesSpace. Collection guides, or finding aids, provide information about the creation, historical context, arrangement, and content of archival and manuscript material. These guides vary in style, depth of detail, and amount of materials covered, but their common purpose is to describe and enable access to archival and manuscript collections.
Some of Special Collections materials are not yet cataloged or described in a collection guide. Contact Special Collections librarians if you don’t find what you’re looking for.
During fall 2020, Special Collection materials are available for consultation by appointment only.
One collection of interest is the Shaker collection, which was donated to the library in 1931 by Edward B. Wight, Class of 1907. Published items can be found in the library catalog and this ArchivesSpace record describes the manuscript collection (see the collection organization tab for a listing of items). Highlights of the collection are also available through Unbound.