Alumnae Library
Matthew Sheridan
Head of Digital Special Collections & Technical Services



Alumnae Library
Anthony Fonseca
Library Director



Find Rare Books, College History Items, and Other Special Collections

Alumnae Library’s Archives and Special Collections materials consist of Elms College’s historical documents, photographs, and information in other kinds of formats, as well as rare and collectible books, manuscripts, sound recordings, photographs, crafts and artwork, and realia that pertain to a broad range of scholarly research topics and periods. The goals of both departments are to support scholars from around the world, preserve resources in all formats (including digitized), and to provide superior information and access to these materials.

Our hours usually include the following:

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: 8AM to 3PM
Tuesday and Thursday: 1PM to 7PM

***Although information about some materials may be found in the CW/MARS catalog, the majority of information exists on our research interface, The Elm Tree (

About the Collections

The College’s archives house materials pertaining to the history of Elms College. These materials date from the College’s formative years in the early 20th founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph (SSJ) of Springfield, Massachusetts. These materials also include documents such as the correspondence of former presidents, historical building plans, photographs, postcards, and yearbooks.

Special Collections has two large rare books collections, the M. E. Barry Rare Book Collection and the Joseph C. Fenton Rare Book Collection. Both cover a large spectrum of research interests, especially in regard to English drama from the 17th philosophy, rhetoric, and the arts. To identify just a few, other notable collections include the Richard Wellette Collection, focusing on materials in art, theatre, and music, and including publicity stills from television and film, the Ursula Toomey Collection, which consists of leaves from medieval music manuscripts and a Jain manuscript (dating from the 1500s), and the Neil Downey Sound Recording Collection, a large record collection featuring jazz, popular, classical, and spoken word record albums (LPs).


As materials are currently being cataloged, digitized, and preserved through our own efforts as well as in participation with Digital Commonwealth and Digital Treasures, we ask for your patience in understanding that there may be at times challenges to striking a balance between making Archives and Special Collections materials accessible and preserving valuable, rare, collectible, and fragile items. Century as well as from its and 18th Centuries, religion.

The majority of these collections are non-circulating. Visiting the materials onsite for purposes of extensive research requires a request for an appointment at least one week ahead of time. Please contact either Matthew Sheridan ( in Special Collections or Anthony Fonseca ( in Archives to set up an appointment. After checking the departments’ hours of opening, include the dates and times planned for the visit, contact information (email and phone), identifying numbers of materials (for example, name of department—Archives or Special Collections, name of collection, box, and or folder).

Teaching and Learning

Archives and Special Collections offer workshops, classes, tours, and programming that specifically explore how to conduct research, use the materials in the collections, and to incorporate both activities in scholarship. Unlike many academic libraries, our approach is that research, scholarship, and writing cannot happen based on accidental or undirected discovery alone; interaction is an essential aspect to introducing these materials to students, faculty, fellow librarians, and seasoned researchers. Subject specialists teach these workshops, classes, and tours, often working with Elms faculty to design learning opportunities gearing especially towards their students. They also work one-on-one with faculty and scholars who may, for example, need information ranging from locating materials in our collections and sorting through primary and secondary materials to nuts-and-bolts scholarship. Teaching areas include specific themes, formats, authors, historical periods, and various levels of research methods. Elms faculty are welcome to contact the departments at least one week ahead of time to set up workshops, classes, and tours; the more planning ahead of time, the better. Please contact Matthew Sheridan ( or Anthony Fonseca ( to discuss teaching and learning using materials in Archives and Special Collections. In addition, Alumnae Library will announce workshops and programs through the Library’s website and The Elm Tree.


Publication of images from Elms College Archives and Special Collections is subject to approval and may be under copyright. Publication includes the following media: print; electronic/digital; sound recording; video recording; or microfilm. Written permission must be obtained in advance of publication by contacting the Archives or Special Collections Departments at Alumnae Library, Elms College: or Fees may be assessed and charged by the departments for reproduction and use. Please also note that some materials in Archives contain temporarily non-public materials that are restricted to use by College officials only.

As outlined above, appointments for extensive research must be requested no less than one week prior to a planned visit. Likewise, requests for workshops, class visits, and tours must be made no less than one week prior to their taking place. Check the departments’ hours while making plans. When the library is closed, the departments are also closed. Information for appointment requests must be complete, including the name and contact information of the researcher, the date and time of the proposed visit, the department that houses the material(s), as well as the name of the collection, box number, and folder number of the material(s). For workshops, classes, and tours, teaching faculty and individuals must specify the date and time as well as to communicate the goals or objectives hoped to be met through the learning opportunity.

When visiting the materials onsite, researchers will be asked to present photo identification (examples include driver’s and state licenses or passports). Researchers are welcome to bring their laptops or notebooks. Three approved books to assist with research may be brought into the Rare Book Room. Pencils and paper will be provided upon request. No other personal belongings, including backpacks and bags, jackets and coats, pens, containers, additional books, drinks, or food are allowed. Researchers with cameras need to request permission to take pictures at the time of requesting the appointment. No laptop or camera cases are allowed. People accompanying researchers who have made the request for an appointment are subject to the same policies. Cell phones must be silenced.

Some materials require special handling, such as using book cradles or lint-free gloves. Visitors are required to follow any additional instructions given by librarians in Archives or Special Collections. Extremely fragile materials cannot be photocopied, scanned, or photographed.

If you cannot visit, please contact our departments via email. We will assist you in any way we can by answering questions briefly, but we cannot do extensive research or writing for you.

It is not the responsibility of Alumnae Library or its staff to find bibliographic information about materials after a visit takes place.

Some materials may contain language that reflects the time of their origin. This historical content does not reflect the points of view of the departments, Alumnae Library, or Elms College.


In the near future, it may be possible to reproduce Archives or Special Collections materials in digital or print format. Examples of materials include books, manuscripts, ephemera, photographs, documents, or sheet music. Self-serve photocopying and scanning is unavailable. Please check The Elm Tree ( to see if the materials of interest have already been digitized. Further questions should be directed to Matthew Sheridan ( or Anthony Fonseca (

Securing permission to use Archives and Special Collections materials is not a clearance of intellectual property rights for the created work itself. Any copyright information (for example, photo credit) on or with the specific copy of a requested item in these departments will be provided and, if not, should be asked for by the requestor. The departments, Alumnae Library, and Elms College are not liable if requestor fails to obtain any necessary copyright clearance. Absence of copyright information on or with the specific copy of a requested item in Archives and Special Collections does not guarantee no such claim exists.