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Find Images: Smith College Libraries Special Collections

Picture Research Sources & Strategies

Digital Images

SSC/CA Image Database
A searchable database of Sophia Smith Collection and College Archives digital images is available to researchers on-site in the Alumnae Gymnasium reading room.

MRBR Image Database
A searchable index to nearly 1000 digital images including early printed books, botanical illustrations, decorative bookbindings, contemporary artists books, and Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf materials is available on-site in the Mortimer Rare Book Room.

Smith LUNA Database
Includes a small selection of very high quality images from the MRBR and the SSC including the following:

  • 50 photographs and print materials related to 20th century activism (SSC)
  • Helle Collection of Plath Family Photographs (MRBR/MS 273)
  • Photograph Albumof Leslie Stephen (MRBR/MS 5)
  • Otto Ege Collection, 12th to the 16th century Western European medieval manuscript leaves (MRBR)
  • Victoria Regia, or, The Great Water Lily of America (MRBR/XX 583.118 AL53v)

Reproduction Services
The Special Collections provide scanning and other reproduction services (for a fee) to researchers and permit the use of digital cameras under specific conditions. Personal scanners are not allowed in the Alumnae Gymnasium reading room. Permission may be granted for use of special photography if arrangements are made in advance. See below for special policies and services for each of the Special Collections:

College Archives

The Smith College Archives documents the life of the College by collecting materials created by students, faculty, administrative and departmental staff. Among these are a great variety of image sources including photographs, slides, architectural drawings and plans, scrapbooks, posters and other graphic ephemera, artwork, and illustrated college publications.

The College Archives Image Gallery presents a sample of photographs on topics such as student life, academic life, college administration, women's war work, biography, and the campus buildings and grounds.

Some of the Smith collections available through the Five College Libraries Digital Access Project include visual materials. The most extensive of these is a  Postcard Collection of over 800 unique postcards published from 1900 to 1995 depicting Smith College campus buildings, interiors, and events as well as views of the greater Northampton area.

Sophia Smith Collection

The Sophia Smith Collection's holdings include tens of thousands of photographs, slides, negatives, postcards, scrapbooks, and artwork, as well as images in print sources such as women’s periodicals, broadsides, fliers, pamphlets, and posters. 

Major subject areas are:

  • women's activism in the women’s liberation and suffrage movement
  • women's activism in the civil rights, peace, and reproductive rights movements
  • women in international work
  • women in the arts and professions
  • U.S. social history and family life

A selection of works from the growing collection of SSC digital images documenting women’s history from the early 19th century to the present is available on its Digital Collections web page.

Mortimer Rare Book Room

The Mortimer Rare Book Room houses the college's rare books and literary manuscripts. It is a broad, general collection that includes works from all periods (from medieval manuscripts to contemporary artists' books) and in all subject areas (from ancient history to zoology). The collection is particularly strong in illustrated books; this includes illustrated literary works in all genres, scientific and technical works, travel literature, maps and atlases, early treatises on art and architecture, and 20th century artists books.

A selection of works from several Mortimer Rare Book Room collections is featured in its Online Exhibitions.

Research Assistance

For help finding images in the Special Collections contact: