Archives & Special Collections Wants Your Stuff!

Archives books


Exploring the Mount Holyoke Archives and Special Collections (ASC) is a little like discovering what’s hidden in your grandmother’s attic, combing through your own boxes of college keepsakes, and scouring your favorite antiques store all rolled into one. Among the 12,500 rare books and 11,000 linear feet of archival material is a trove of College memorabilia, rare books, and historical documents. The collection reflects the history of Mount Holyoke but also that of women’s education in the US and around the world.

To keep the collection both up to date and robust, the ASC needs donations from alumnae and others affiliated with the College. To continue to grow the collection—especially beyond the wealth of annual publications such as yearbooks and handbooks—the ASC staff is currently looking for more personal materials and records—about an individual, an organization, or an institution on campus.

Archives scrapbook

Pages of a scrapbook created by Anne Smith, class of 1915

Here’s a sampling of what the ASC collects (digital files welcome):

  • Items that showcase student activism, diversity, or artistic expression – Think flyers, posters, photographs, zines, videos, speeches, and journals. This is a growing area of interest for researchers, and the ASC would like to see their collection meet the burgeoning demand.
  • Documentation of student organizations – Meeting minutes, publications, flyers, speeches, planning documents, video recordings of special events, photographs, and more.
  • Class rings, society pins, and other Mount Holyoke-themed jewelry – The ASC has a small collection and would love to see this expand with examples from each class year.
  • Scrapbooks – The ASC has more than one hundred scrapbooks dating back to the 1880s, and each offers a fascinating insight into both the history of the College and the maker’s experience of it, not to mention the social, cultural, and political trends of the day.
  • Letters – Like the one from Emily Dickinson to her friend Abiah, explaining what life was like at Mount Holyoke during her time as a student. Your correspondence might be between you and another student, family member, or a friend. You might donate one letter or a series. The key is that it shed light on some facet of the college experience. Letters a little revealing? Talk to the staff about restricting access for a specified period of time.
  • Emails – See “letters,” above. You can send in printed copies, transfer them to a thumb drive, or even email your emails!
  • Diaries/Journals – Much like scrapbooks, these accounts offer researchers insight into not only the personal but cultural and social trends of the day. If yours is in the form of blog posts, download them onto a thumb drive or consult with the ASC about the best way to capture the data.
  • Speeches – The ASC is looking for transcripts or video/audio recordings documenting important speeches during your time on campus, by students (maybe even yourself?) or visiting speakers.
  • Class syllabi – Helpful to researchers in illustrating how the curriculum has changed over time.
  • Photos & Videos – The ASC accepts all video formats. Hint: Label photographs with dates and the names of who’s shown if possible.
  • Class newsletters – From your time at Mount Holyoke and after.

It’s best to check with the staff before making a donation. Send an email to or call 413-538-3079.

If you’d like to support Archives and Special Collections but don’t have materials to donate, or if you’d like to include a gift with your donation to assist with the preservation of your materials, you can reach out directly to the ASC by contacting Head of Archives and Special Collections Leslie Fields at

Remember, you can see what the ASC is up to anytime on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Snapchat @MHC_Archives.

— By Mary Giles

—Photos by Joanna Chattman

Read about Archives & Special Collections.

2 responses to “Archives & Special Collections Wants Your Stuff!”

  1. Deborah Morgan Olsen '65 says:

    I cannot find an email for the archives. I have a question, not a potential donation, so am hoping you’ll pass this along to the appropriate person or office. . I have been asked by the husband of Janet [Jan] Rabenstein Brown ’64, who died last year, to write a little summary of my memories of Jan. I believe she was president of the Mt Holyoke Club of Portland in the 1980s. She was a leader in our club’s efforts to raise money and feed a lion at the Portland zoo for a year, renaming her Mary Lyon. I was an active club member at that time and was responsible for interviewing applicants and visiting high schools as an alumna admissions rep. I think this was was during the college’s sesquicentennial (1987?). Any information you can provide about Jan’s involvement with the Portland Club and this project would-be most appreciated!

  2. elizabeth archambeault says:

    I have my mother’s mortar board. She graduated with the class of 1933. Is this something the archives would like? Thanks, Elizabeth Archambeault ’65

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