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Special Collections contains Haverford College’s rare books, manuscripts, and the college archives. We seek to collect, preserve, and make available materials which serve the research and teaching needs of the Haverford community as well as the wider scholarly community. The collections are open to all.
Using Special Collections
Special Collections is open to all users, including students, faculty, and staff of the Tri-College community, scholars, and the public. Users must register and sign in each day when they arrive in Special Collections and agree to abide by our Reading Room policies.
Except for open stack Quaker materials, all materials must be used in the Reading Room. Patrons may bring pencil and paper, laptops, tablets, and/or reference materials to the tables, and will be asked to store all other personal belongings in the provided lockers on their arrival.
Visitors are encouraged, but not required, to contact Special Collections prior to their visit. Prior notice allows us to pull together a list of potential resources and to have resources ready upon your arrival. If you have a question about materials in a certain collection, visiting the collections, or anything else, please contact us.
Special Collections does accept requests for information via email (preferred) and phone from patrons unable to visit the collections. In general, Special Collections staff can provide up to half an hour of research free of charge; after that, researchers will be expected to make other arrangements.
Use of the Reading Room is reserved for those using Special Collections materials.
Special Collections by Subject
Special Collections collects in a wide variety of subject areas and in many materials formats. A few of our collection strengths, along with the types of materials we collect in these areas, are detailed below. These are by no means the only subjects in our collections, however; for information on how to find other materials, scroll down to the "Accessing Materials" tab.
Special Collections includes the college archives, which documents the history of Haverford College from its founding in 1833 to the present. Materials include publications by and about the college, such as catalogs, alumni magazines, yearbooks, and the student newspaper; records of campus administrative departments; personal papers of past presidents, faculty, staff, students, and alumni; materials documenting the change and growth of Haverford’s campus and physical plant; student life materials, including records of student clubs, scrapbooks, and diaries; photographs; and more. We continue to add materials to this collection in order to preserve the ongoing history of the college for future users.
Haverford’s world-renowned collection of Quaker materials is centered around the rich Philadelphia-area Quaker community and the long history of Quakerism in the United States. Manuscript materials include the papers of numerous prominent Quaker leaders including Rufus Jones, the Cadbury family, the Cope family, the Evans family, and others. Published materials include a large number of Quaker tracts, many dating to the early days of Quakerism during the English Civil War; materials published by and about Quakers (both scholarly and popular) from its founding to the present; a large collection of Quaker-related broadsides and newspapers; as well as a rich collection of Quaker fiction. Special Collections is also the repository for the Philadelphia and Baltimore Yearly Meeting records in conjunction with Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College.
British and American Literature
Special Collection’s literary holdings are particularly strong in British and American literature. Shakespeare is well represented, with early publications of both individual plays and the first four editions of his collected works (the “four folios”). Later British literature includes strong collections of John Milton, John Ford, John Dryden, Samuel Johnson (including his Dictionary), William Cowper, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Lewis Carroll, Robert Lewis Stevenson, and John Davidson. Our American literature holdings are particularly strong in the nineteenth century, including authors such as John Greenleaf Whittier, Mark Twain, James Fenimore Cooper, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry James, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman, Bret Harte, and Phillis Wheatley. The literary collections are not limited to English language literatures, however, but also include early editions of Don Quixote (in both English and Spanish), Dante, and Montaigne. The Charles Roberts Autograph Collection includes numerous letters and other documents by novelists, poets, dramatists, and essayists.
Native American History
Special Collections’s Native American holdings are particularly strong in three areas: letters, diaries, photographs, and other materials documenting the interactions between Native Americans and whites in the Pennsylvania and New York regions, including the Lenape (also known as the Delaware) Nation and Iroquois Confederacy (particularly the Seneca Nation); records books, letters, and financial documents related to the Central Superintendency, which was responsible for Native American affairs in Kansas, Nebraska, and parts of the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Colorado and which was run by Quakers at the request of President Grant until 1879; and published materials on Native Americans, mainly from the nineteenth century, including important works by George Catlin and McKenney and Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America.
The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Indian Committee was established in 1795, and its records include minutes, financial papers, account books, correspondence, addresses, reports, journals, scrapbooks, legal, land and legislative related papers, and maps, covering topics including Friends' visits to Native Americans (at Oneida, Genesanguhta, and Stockbridge, among others), the settlement and boarding school at Tunesassa, the Ogden Land Company, the Buffalo Treaty fraud of 1838, and the construction of the Kinzua Dam in the 1960s.
For more information, researchers may want to consult our research guide for Native American History.
Many of the family papers held in Special Collections include correspondence, diaries and journals, and drafts of speeches and articles by people involved with the anti-slavery and abolitionist movements; some also include materials which document travel through slaveholding states and include comments and observations of slavery. We also hold extensive materials related to the Free Produce Movement, in which people tried to purchase food and clothing which had no connection to slave labor. Records for a number of Philadelphia-area organizations such as the Bethany Mission for Colored People and the Emlen Institution for the Benefit of Children of African and Indian Descent provide information on social programs. Published materials of interest include numerous editions, some illustrated, of Uncle Tom’s Cabin; anti-slavery tracts; arguments for and against abolition; and several early editions of Phillis Wheatley’s poems. Our collection of 18th through 20th century newspapers contains over 250 titles, mostly from New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, and many have information on the anti-slavery movement. The photography collection includes a large number of African-American photographers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Researchers interested in slavery and abolition may wish to consult our research guide.
History of Printing
Special Collections’s holdings of printed books provide an overview of many aspects of printing history. Manuscript materials include a 13th century Bible from Northern France as well as manuscripts in Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin from both the Middle East and Medieval Europe. Examples of early printing include a page from the Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed with moveable type in the West; several books published by Aldus Manutius, one of the earliest publishers of classical texts; and the first printed edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy (1472).
Other holdings show the history and transition of illustration processes (including woodcuts, engravings, etchings, acquatints, wood engravings, lithographs, and various photomechanical processes); the transition from the hand-printing age to the machine age; and the modern use of pre-mechanized printing techniques through fine press books, including examples from the Kelmscott and Roycroft presses, and artist’s books.
The holdings on Asian history and culture in Special Collections cover most of the continent, often through unpublished diaries and letters of travelers, teachers, and missionaries; photographs and photo albums; and published materials of many kinds. Our holdings related to Japan are particularly strong, and include the papers of teachers in Japan (including Edith Sharpless, Gilbert and Minnie Bowles, and Esther Rhoads); the records of the Japan Committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends, which began mission work in Japan in the 1880s; and numerous photographs taken in Japan. Our Middle Eastern materials include over 100 lantern slides of Palestine from the 1930s and papers of teachers at schools in Ramallah, Palestine and Brummana, Lebanon (including Kahlil and Eva Totah, Daniel and Emily Oliver, and William Evans). Other holdings include materials on China, India, Turkey, and the Philippines, among others.
Interested researchers may want to consult our research guide for more complete information.
History of Science and Nature
Special Collections holds first editions of seminal works in the history of science include Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Einstein’s Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie, Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, and Newton’s Principia Mathematica, as well as works of natural history such as Audubon's The Quadrupeds of North America. In addition, Special Collections holds almanacs, works on natural history, gardening, and farming. Some manuscript holdings also describe farming in the eighteenth and nineteenth century mid-Atlantic, and Haverford College history materials include much on the history of the arboretum campus. The Charles Roberts Autograph Letters Collection holds numerous letters from important scientists in a variety of fields.
Special Collections includes Haverford College’s art collections, which includes fine art photography, prints, drawings, paintings, sculptures, and artifacts. The photography collection,which includes almost 5,000 fine art images, is one of the strongest college photograph collections in the country and is particularly strong in African-American photographers. There is a strong collection of Greek vases, as well as some examples of African sculpture and masks. The print collection is strongest in modern artists such as Chagall and Miro. A small portion of our art collection is browsable online.
Haverford College’s photography collection includes both fine art photography as well as more everyday snapshots and historical photographs, which are often found as parts of personal and family papers. Together, these document the history of photography and photographic technology, and include daguerreotypes, tintypes, glass plate negatives, lantern slides, carte de visites, albumen prints, silver gelatin prints, color photographs, and more. The collection includes significant collections of photographers including Ansel Adams, Charles Currier, Edward Curtis, Walker Evans (including many of his color photographs), Lewis Hine, Sol Mednick, E. Eugene Smith, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Edward Jean Steichen, Paul Strand, and Carl Van Vechten. It is also particularly strong in photographs of and by African-Americans.
Colonial Mid-Atlantic American History
Colonial Mid-Atlantic history holdings are closely tied to the collections of Quaker families held in Special Collections and mainly document fairly well-to-do merchant families in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey regions. Materials include correspondence, diaries, journals, commonplace books, legal materials (deeds, wills, and marriage certificates), maps and surveys, and both business and personal financial records. Topics covered include travel, business and commerce, health and family, religion and ministry, missionary work, Native Americans, politics, and philanthropy.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) was heavily involved in relief work in Europe after both World War I and World War II, as well as in Asia following World War II. Their programs included reconstruction work in France and food aid to children in Germany and Poland after World War I, relief and reconstruction work in Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Finland after World War II, efforts to evacuate refugees from Spain during and after the Spanish Civil War, post-World War II relief work in Japan, and relief work in South Africa and Rhodesia in the 1950s and 1960s. Special Collections holds the papers of many people who worked with the AFSC on all these projects, as well as some of its leaders and founders.
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To find materials in Special Collections, researchers may need to search in several places. Tripod, the Libraries’ online catalog, contains the records for all books held by Special Collections, and some of the manuscript materials. You can limit your search to Haverford Special Collections.
Some manuscript materials can be found through Tripod. If there is an online guide to the collection, the Tripod record will provide a link to this guide. To browse or search the complete list of manuscript collections, see the link on the right.
Some ephemera can be found through searching Tripod, and there is an index to the newspaper issues held by Special Collections.
A small amount of the art held in Special Collections is available online. The TriArte database allows you to browse by format or to search. In almost all cases, records in Triarte include an image of the art as well as descriptive information.
Digital surrogates of materials in Special Collections can be found in two digital repositories. Collections in Triptych include Bi-Co News photographs, Friendly Association for Regaining and Preserving Peace with the Indians by Pacific Measures materials, the Cope-Evans family papers, historic photographs of Haverford College, Quaker broadsides, Quaker journals and diaries, images of Quaker meeting houses, and materials related to Quakers and slavery.
Materials in Triceratops include recordings of speeches, oral histories, and digital versions of Quaker serials. Also included are minutes of various faculty, administration, and student committees; these may be accessible only to those on campus.
Special Collections also captures various parts of the Haverford College website as well as websites of Quaker organizations for historical purposes. These historical websites can be found:
Instruction & Classes
Special Collections welcomes the opportunity to work with classes from across the curriculum as well as classes and organizations beyond Haverford. As a hands-on laboratory for the liberal arts, Special Collections provides students with the opportunity to work with original primary materials and develop rhetorical and critical thinking skills, cultural stewardship, a sense of the authority and authenticity of sources, empathy and engagement with materials, the importance of physical artifacts, and an acceptance of ambiguity.
Special Collections’s teaching philosophy is to deeply engage students with original primary materials, to expose as many students as possible to our unique resources, and to provide them with the tools they need to best analyze, interpret, and use these resources. As a special collections at an undergraduate liberal arts college, part of our mission is to facilitate student learning and faculty teaching.
Classes in Special Collections can be arranged for any size and for students at any level. Introductory classes might include a brief orientation to the concept and existence of Special Collections; all classes include time for students to interrogate and handle materials. Often, students will work with materials which might be used in a class assignment, and then return individually to spend more time with resources. Sessions are planned in conjunction with the course instructor.
If you are interested in setting up an instruction session, or wondering what materials might be appropriate for a class, please contact us.
Classes and visits for schools and organizations not affiliated with Haverford College are also supported; we welcome the opportunity to work with a wide variety of groups. We are happy to support visits from K-12 schools and other area colleges, scholarly organizations, any groups interested in Quaker history, and groups of librarians and archivists. Groups interested in such sessions should contact Special Collections; a librarian will then help to plan your class or event.
Reproduction Policies & Fees
We attempt to accommodate all requests for reproductions as long this does not damage the materials or violate copyright law. Some materials, due to fragility or other issues, may only be reproduced through certain methods. Please consult a staff member if you have questions.
Patrons may use cameras in the Reading Room provided that the flash and all sounds are turned off. Some restricted materials may not be photographed. No personal scanners are permitted in the Reading Room.
Photocopies, PDFs, and Scans
Patrons may request up to 100 photocopies or PDF copies per year of materials in our collections. Copies cost $10 for the first ten copies, and $.25/page after that. Publication-quality scans or digital images cost $10/page. These will be provided at 600 ppi unless otherwise specified.
Photocopies and PDFs of open-stacks materials
Patrons can make their own PDFs or photocopies of open-stacks materials. PDFs are free, copies cost $.15/copy.
Non-Tri-College patrons will be charged $.10 for printing, including printing from the microfilm reader.
Permission to Publish
Materials in our collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. Please contact us for permission to publish and our preferred citation and attribution information. All materials should be noted as being from Special Collections, Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania.
Gifts & Donations
Special Collections gladly accepts gifts of materials that enlarge and strengthen our collections. Among the areas in which we collect most deeply are rare books, personal and family papers, materials related to Quaker history and practice, organizational records, and Haverford College history (papers of students, faculty, and alumni, as well as published materials). For a list of major collecting areas, please see our collecting guidelines. Our collecting is not always limited to these areas, however, and we are willing to explore adding new areas of strength if they have connections to the Haverford curriculum or to current collecting areas.
Special Collections also serves as the repository of Quaker Meetings records for Philadelphia and Baltimore Yearly Meetings. We have a deep interest in Quaker meeting records, and are happy to accept other records of this type. Meetings interested in depositing materials may wish to consult recommendations from PYM.
For more information about making a donation, please contact Special Collections.
Campus offices interested in transferring records to the archives should contact the College Archivist.
Those interested in donating other materials to the general library collection should click here.