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Library records

Identifier: 10L-Library

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of the records of Wellesley College's Library, dating from 1867 to 2018. Collection is arranged in five series. Series I. Annual Reports (1911-1912, 1938-1953, 1967-1969) includes yearly reports from the Library giving updates on staff, activities, and gifts. Series II. Accessions records (1877-1973) includes records of books obtained by the Library (1923-1924, 1938-1973) and records of periodical accessioned (1877-1893, 1957-1970). Series III. Historical Collection records (1879-1970) includes lists of alumnae publications, bibliographical records, records of exhibitions held, an index of pre-1922 materials held in the Collections, documentation for reference use, and records of staff and faculty involved. Series IV. Friends of the Library records (1933-2018) includes background material on the group’s purpose of providing community and financial support to the library, correspondence, records of donations made, records of potential funding opportunities, records of the Executive Secretary (1936-1942), exhibition and lecture materials, pamphlets and publications, bulletins, meeting minutes and reports. Series V. Administrative records (1883-2007) includes building plans, records of building construction and alterations, records of the Faculty Committee on the Library Building including slides, meeting minutes, and reports; background material on this history of the library, a book binding manual, records of the Alumnae Library Fund Committee, the Library Committee, and the Library Council, news clippings about the library, conference records, records of department libraries, account books (1885-1910) and allocation of the Library Fund, expenditure and funding records for various departments, interlibrary loan statistics, files on staff members, staff meetings, and staff news, records on reference services and tours of the library, records of the Library’s rare books and the Treasure Room, pamphlets, and files on the Library’s activities during World War I and World War II.


  • 1867-2018


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. To make an appointment to view materials, please contact the Archives staff by email at or by phone at (781) 283-3745.

Conditions Governing Use

The Wellesley College Archives welcomes researchers to use materials in the public domain, to make fair use of copyrighted materials as defined by copyright law, and to request permission to use works whose copyright is held by Wellesley College. All materials from the Archives, regardless of copyright status, should be attributed to the Wellesley College Archives, Library and Technology Services when cited, quoted, or reproduced.

Biographical / Historical

The Wellesley College Library was founded with a donation of approximately 10,000 volumes from college founder Henry Fowle Durant. The Library officially opened November 19, 1875. Friends of the Durants and supporters of the college made donations of books and funds which continued to grow the Library’s collections, even after Mr. Durant's death in 1881. Harvard chemistry professor, philanthropist, and President of the Wellesley College board of visitors Eben N. Horsford was a significant donor who founded the Library Permanent Fund. A Library Festival was held in June 1886 to celebrate Horsford's gifts to the Library (see Library Festival file in Series V). The Friends of the Wellesley College Library (initially called the Wellesley College Library Associates) was created in 1934. It was dissolved from 1954-1982. The Friends of the Library has served to provide community and financial support to the library, its collections and its staff. (See Series IV. history note for more detail.)

The library was first housed in College Hall, dispersed on four floors and seven rooms as of 1905. In 1905 Andrew Carnegie donated funds to contstruct a library building separate from College Hall; construction was completed in 1910. In 1915 Carnegie gave an additional donation to add a wing (on the left of the building). Another addition was added at the back of the building from 1956-1959. Most recently, an addition was made to the right of the building from 1973-1975, after which the Wellesley College Library was dubbed the Margaret Clapp Library in honor of the former college president. In 1904 Billings Hall was built to house the Music Department, which included its own Music Library. The Music Library has since moved to second floor of the Jewett Arts Center, which was completed in 1958, along with the Art Library. The Art Library had previously been housed in the Farnsworth Art Building which was built in 1889. Other distinct department libraries have existed, with overflow housed in the main library. The 1932-1933 Report of the President lists along with the General Library, the Art Library, and the Music Library: a Zoology Library, Botany Library, and Hygiene Library. The article "A Library Directory" by Librarian Caroline F. Pierce in the October 18, 1905 edition of the Wellesley News lists these and even more department libraries, including a Physics Library, a Missionary Library, a Chemistry Library, and an Astronomy Library housed at the Observatory. (See Department Libraries file in Series V). Some of these distinct department libraries have since been absorbed into Clapp Library; there remains a non-circulating astronomy collection at the Whitin Observatory.

[Information from: Glasscock, Jean, and Katharine Canby Balderston. Wellesley College, 1875-1975: a Century of Women. Wellesley College, 1975. See also the 1889 Wellesley College Legenda, pages 87-90, for statistics on the Library's collections, and the 1909 and 1958 Reports of the President regarding building and renovation.]


6.2 Linear Feet (11 boxes)


Collection is arranged in five series: Series I. Annual Reports (1911-1912, 1938-1953, 1967-1969), Series II. Accessions records (1877-1973), Series III. Historical Collection records (1879-1970), Series IV. Friends of the Library records (1933-2018), Series V. Administrative records (1883-2007). Series I. and II. have been arranged in chronological order.
Wellesley College Library. Library records, 1867-2018: a guide
File-level description by Student Assistant Sophia Pechaty, collection-level description by Natalia Gutierrez-Jones, Project Archivist.
2019 December 13
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Wellesley College Archives Repository