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Sylvia Plath Special Collections Resources: Collections at Smith

Collections related to Sylvia Plath in Smith College Special Collections

Sylvia Plath in Smith College Special Collections

Materials related to Sylvia Plath are found throughout Smith College Special Collections, which comprises the Mortimer Rare Book Collection, the Smith College Archives and the Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History.

Read the “Scope and Contents” and the "Biographical/Historical" notes in the finding aids for more information on each individual collection.

Mortimer Rare Book Collection

Sylvia Plath collection

The Sylvia Plath Collection contains writings by and about Sylvia Plath, including poems, journals, articles, and correspondence to and from Plath. The bulk of the collection is manuscript, printed, or published materials but also includes realia, and audio/visual materials. There are also personal and financial papers, photographs, artwork, and school papers. While the bulk of the collection is comprised of Sylvia Plath's writings, memorabilia , and reviews of her work, there are also materials concerning Aurelia Plath (Sylvia Plath's mother), Otto Plath (Sylvia Plath's father), Ted Hughes (Sylvia Plath's husband), Olwyn Hughes (Ted Hughes' sister), and Marcia Brown Stern (friend of Sylvia Plath). These additional series are largely comprised of materials relating to Sylvia Plath. The Ted Hughes materials contain some of his own writings and correspondence in addition to documents concerning his publication of Sylvia Plath's works.

Helle collection of Plath family photographs

The Helle Collection of Plath Family Photographs was assembled by June Johnson Helle with additions from her mother, Martha Plath Johnson, and her aunt, Frieda Plath Heinrichs, who were sisters of Otto Emil Plath. Some of the photographs were originally sent by Aurelia Plath to her sister-in-laws Frieda Plath Heinrichs and Martha Plath Johnson. June Johnson Helle served as executor for the personal belongings of her mother and aunt Frieda Plath Heinrichs. The photographs are annotated by Otto Plath, Aurelia Schober Plath, Sylvia Plath, and June Johnson Helle.

Peter Keating Steinberg collection of newspaper articles related to Sylvia Plath's first suicide attempt

Photocopies of contemporary newspaper articles on Sylvia Plath’s first suicide attempt on August 24, 1953. These articles, many which cite Plath's "disappearance," were gathered for an essay by Steinberg entitled: "They had to call and call: the search for Sylvia Plath." It was published in: Plath profiles 3, summer, 2010. A bibliography is included, as well as a computer file of the articles.

Elizabeth Sigmund collection of photographs and correspondence related to Sylvia Plath

When Elizabeth Sigmund was married to her first husband, David Compton, they lived near Court Green, the home of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes in North Tawton, Devonshire, England. Sylvia Plath dedicated her novel The Bell Jar to Elizabeth and David Compton although this dedication was a point of later contention with Plath's estate representatives.

This collection contains materials documenting Elizabeth Sigmund’s relationship with Sylvia Plath and with Plath’s family, friends, literary estate, publishers, and biographers. The collection includes photographs of Sylvia Plath and her family, personal correspondence, and newspaper clippings.

Edward Butscher collection of papers on Sylvia Plath

Teacher and writer from New York. Includes Butscher's correspondence about Plath and typescripts of his biographies, copies of some of Plath's correspondence, writings, and family documents, critical essays about Plath, and photographs.

Jane V. Anderson papers

Jane V. Anderson attended Smith College at the same time as Sylvia Plath, and both women suffered mental breakdowns and were hospitalized at the same time at McLean Hospital near Boston. She spent the major portion of her career in private practice as a psychiatrist in Brookline, Mass. and taught in the Dept. of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Her papers include biographical materials, letters from Sylvia Plath and Richard Norton to Anderson and scholarly papers by Anderson. The bulk of the materials consist of the depositions, exhibitions and transcripts related to the civil suit that Anderson brought against AVCO Embassy Pictures Corp., et al.  

Houghton Mifflin Company collection on Bitter Fame

Papers collected by the Houghton Mifflin Company for their 1989 publication of Anne Stevenson's biography Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath. Includes correspondence and legal papers concerning the project, as well as research notes, drafts, corrections, press clippings, and photocopies of illustrations.

College Archives

Sylvia Plath papers

The Sylvia Plath Papers contain biographical information, photographs, press releases, writings by and about Plath. There is a small amount of correspondence relating to Plath. Most of the items in the collection are published materials. 

Classes of 1951-1960 records

The Classes of 1951-1960 records consist of individual class notes, examinations, papers and class letters, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, songbooks as well as reunion materials of the same nature, all related to or dating from the time periods during which these classes were students at Smith College.

Other Collections

Material related to Sylvia Plath can be found throughout the College Archives in multiple collections, including in files for Smith houses, clubs, and college publications.

Sophia Smith Collection

Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse papers

Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse was a psychiatrist, theologian, and ordained Episcopal priest known for being poet Syvia Plath's psychiatrist, and for her theological publications related to homosexuality, sex, and women in the Christian church. This collection contains materials reflecting both her personal and professional lives, most of it from about 1970 and later. The collection contains a small amount of materials related to Sylvia Plath, which have been put in separate series for ease of access and reference.