Officially established in 1980 with the help of a generous donation from the Gebbie Foundation, Wheaton’s Marion B. Gebbie Class of 1901 Archives and Special Collections house the college’s archives, rare books, and manuscripts as well as realia that relates to Wheaton’s history. The archival collections contain a multitude of primary source materials relating to Wheaton College and its spirited history. These include administrative records of Wheaton Female Seminary and Wheaton College, College publications, papers and manuscripts of the Wheaton family, alumnae/i classes and faculty, photographs, scrapbooks and other memorabilia, audio and video recordings of Wheaton events, materials related to student organizations and academic pursuits, and records of the Alumni Association.
A key tenet of Wheaton College’s mission is to develop and continue dialogue with our own historical past and explore how it has shaped our communal present, for better or for worse. This statement is an inexcusably late attempt to more formally and substantially commit ourselves to the task of bringing to light some of Wheaton’s own injustices toward its community members of color. Archives exist as a radical promise to the future: they preserve the past to better the future. Though the role of the Archives is to collect, preserve, and make accessible institutional history to researchers and community members, it is important to note that archives and libraries are, inherently, not neutral houses of information, nor are archives ever “complete.” They are part and parcel of the structures of inequity, exclusion of histories, and abuses of power towards marginalized peoples, despite our ongoing goals of inclusive collection and holistic deposit of materials. It is disappointing and angering to us, personally, that the stories and voices of people of color have been excluded, overlooked, and hidden, and that our policies and practices often perpetuate the structural inequities that pervade society. We are examining our role in these oppressive structures and taking action for change by collecting, preserving, and reexamining College history in light of the heartbreaking experiences we have—shamefully, only now—begun to understand. The Archives affirms that Black Lives Matter.
Objects in historical collections reflect the attitudes, ideas, and norms of the era and culture in which they were created or collected. As such, some materials available in our collections may contain offensive imagery, language, or opinions, including disparaging portrayals or descriptions of persons based on characteristics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or religion. Some materials may depict ceremonies, artifacts, or clothing from historically marginalized cultures in a disrespectful or exploitative fashion.
These materials are presented for the purpose of preserving the historical record. Their presence in the archives does not constitute any endorsement of the viewpoints or sentiments expressed within them by Wheaton College or the Madeleine Clark Wallace Library, which strive to manifest an inclusive, welcoming, and respectful environment serving the information needs of our community.
In order to help viewers better understand the origins, context, and historical significance of the materials in our collections, the library and archives provide descriptive information (metadata) to accompany all items such as titles, dates, author names, and notes on the item's history and origins. Whenever possible, best practices established by library and archival professional organizations are followed when creating these descriptions. Language from the original item is typically transcribed directly and without redaction, especially for titles. Standardized topical terms created by external sources (such as Library of Congress) are also used to provide better searching and browsing of the collections.
However, adherence to these practices may sometimes result in harmful or outdated language appearing in the descriptions for some materials, particularly in titles or topical headings. We strive to balance these practices with our goal of reducing the hurtful impact that these collections may have.
These policies are consistent with established professional guidelines such as Access to Digital Resources and Services from the American Library Association, the ACRL Code of Ethics for Special Collections Librarians, and the SAA Core Values Statement and Code of Ethics from the Society of American Archivists.
This statement draws on the work of other institutions who have created similar statements for their digital collections, including the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Libraries, Temple University Libraries, the Digital Public Library of America's Black Women's Suffrage Digital Collection, and the Digital Commonwealth.
The archives is open for on-campus visitors! Unfortunately, the archives will be closed to outside researchers. While for those of you on campus our doors are always open (unless we are teaching), please also consider emailing the Archives.
To search our archival holdings, visit our research database, ArchivesSpace. The archival collections contain a multitude of primary source materials relating to Wheaton College and its long, spirited history. These include administrative records of Wheaton Female Seminary and Wheaton College, College publications, papers and manuscripts of the Wheaton family, alumnae classes and faculty, photographs, scrapbooks, and other memorabilia, audio and video tapes of Wheaton events, materials related to student organizations and academic pursuits and the records of the Alumni Association.
The archives holds the administrative records of Wheaton Female Seminary, Wheaton College and the Alumni Association as well as associated nonofficial records and papers that relate to the history of the institution. Publications of the College, records of the founding of Wheaton Female Seminary and of the Board of Trustees, administrative records, and photographs, sound recordings, films, and videos form major portions of the collection.
The archives also houses a number of manuscript collections. The majority of these relate in some way to Wheaton, its graduates, or members of its faculty, staff, or Board of Trustees. Those collections not related to Wheaton provide contemporary glimpses into issues of work, family and gender along with many other topics, enriching the research experience for students and other scholars.
In 1983, the archives undertook an Oral History Project supported by the Wheaton College Venture Fund. A growing number of Trustees, faculty, alumnae, staff and friends of the College have been interviewed since then.
Faculty are welcome to hold class sessions for the use of archival and special collections materials in the Archives Reading Room. Archives staff can prepare presentations or make materials available for use in the class. If desired, the archivist can also visit classes to explain the use of the collections for primary research. A limited number of seminars may be scheduled to meet in the Reading Room. Please contact the archives at least two weeks in advance to arrange a mutually convenient time for your class or program.
Several archival and manuscript collections contain materials under restriction. A researcher may submit a written request for access to restricted records. This request will be sent for approval to the appropriate officer with the recommendation of the archivist.
Archival and special collections are non-circulating. All manuscript materials and books must be read at tables in the Reading Room under the supervision of archives staff. No food or drink is allowed in the Reading Room. No pens are allowed in the Reading Room. Only paper, notebooks and pencils or laptop computers may be used in the Reading Room. Researchers should wash their hands before handling materials. Archives staff will instruct users in the proper handling of archival and special collections materials.
The Marion B. Gebbie Class of 1901 Archives and Special Collections is happy to offer the following services:
Priority will be given to those who contact the Archivist ahead of time to schedule an appointment. Walk-in users may be accommodated on a case-by-case basis, dependent on the availability of archives staff.
The Archives Reading Room can accommodate up to 35 visitors. To ensure that the archives can accommodate your visit, please use this email to coordinate with the archivist.
The archives staff will do their best to point researchers towards relevant collections and materials. According to time limits determined by user type (see below), Archives staff will identify relevant collections, or portions of collections, for reading room use.
Faculty are welcome to hold class sessions requiring the use of archival and special collections materials in the Reading Room. Archives staff can prepare presentations or make materials available for use in the class. If desired, the archivist can also visit classes to explain the use of the collections for primary research. A limited number of seminars may be scheduled to meet in the Reading Room. Please contact the archives at least two weeks in advance to arrange a mutually convenient time for your class or program.
We can provide digital copies of individual images and small portions of documents whenever possible and within the bounds of US copyright law. Digitization requests will be considered at the discretion of the Archivist.
Please contact the archivist to schedule a tour.
In order to provide the best possible service for all members of the Wheaton community, there are some services that the Marion B. Gebbie Class of 1901 Archives and Special Collections cannot provide.
We do not offer collection appraisals.
Digitization of complete works or collections are beyond our capabilities. Digitization requests will be considered at the discretion of the Archivist.
Members of the Wheaton College community can contact the Wallace Library subject librarians for general research help.
Archives staff cannot perform research in materials that are available online, such as our digitized publications or objects in the Wheaton College Digital Repository, ArchivesSpace and Marion B. Gebbie Archives Image Collection. Members of the Wheaton College community needing technical assistance with these online resources may contact the Wallace Library subject librarians.
The Archives Reading Room can accommodate up to 35 visitors. To ensure that the archives can accommodate your visit, please use this email to coordinate your visit with the archivist.
To have administrative files transferred to the Archives, please fill out a work order and alert the Archivist.
Wheaton College faculty may contact the Wallace Library subject librarians to schedule library research instruction.
The Archives does not have a color printer on the premises. For color printing, please use the printers in the library atrium.
While our doors are open and welcoming when not teaching classes, please contact the archivist to schedule a tour.
Please review the library’s Collection Policy for further information and details.
Initial Response Time: We will respond to requests from the President’s Office, Trustees and College Officers within one business day.
Total Research Time: Unlimited
Initial Response Time: We will respond to requests from students within two business days. We encourage you to schedule a consultation with the Archivist instead.
Total Research Time: One hour within three weeks after response. Any research that requires more than one hour will be deemed a project subject to prioritization.
Initial Response Time: While we try to respond to all requests within one business day, responses to requests from faculty and staff may take up to five business days.
Total Research Time: Two hours for inquiries for publication within one week after response; one hour for general inquiries within two weeks after response. If additional research time is needed, faculty and staff may arrange for their own student employees to consult with the Archives and Digital Initiatives team for supplementary research time. Any research that requires more than three hours and additional students will be deemed a project subject to prioritization.
Initial Response Time: While we try to respond to all requests within one business day, responses to requests from external researchers may take up to five business days. Any research that requires more than one hour will be deemed a project subject to prioritization.
Total Research Time: Two hours for inquiries for publication; 30 minutes for general inquiries within three weeks after response.