Madeleine Clark Wallace Library

Archives & Special Collections

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.

On This Page

Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Acknowledgment of Harmful Content

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 LibrariesTemple University Libraries, the Digital Public Library of America's Black Women's Suffrage Digital Collection, and the Digital Commonwealth.


Access to the Archives

The archives are open for research by appointment only. Please email to schedule a visit.


Archives Contact Information

For general inquiries, please email the Archives at


Our Collections

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.


Administrative Records

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.


Manuscript Collections

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.


Oral Histories of Wheaton College

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.


Rare Books and Special Collections

The Wallace Library maintains several special non-circulating book collections, some of which are housed in the archives. These items are discoverable in the library catalog. Below are brief descriptions of each of the collections.
Beverly Lyon Clark Children's Literature Collection
This collection introduces readers to children’s and juvenile literature of historical import or containing valuable illustrations. It includes eighteenth through twenty-first century titles from The New England Primer to Kate Greenaway to adventure series.
Cole Memorial Collection
The personal library of the Reverend Samuel Valentine Cole, poet and President of Wheaton from 1897 to 1925, forms the nucleus of this collection, which consists of English and American poetry and literature. This collection is shelved in the Cole Room and circulates only to faculty on special loan.
Historical Collection on Women
Founded in 1929 by the Reverend J. Edgar Park, President of Wheaton from 1926 to 1944, this endowed collection contains titles from as early as the seventeenth century relating to women, their families and all aspects of their education and employment. It is the oldest thematic collection maintained by the College. Special strengths of the collection are in books on etiquette, advice, cooking and vocational training. Advice books for men and issues of gender are also represented.
Senior Honors & Graduate Theses
Honors Theses represent the best of original research undertaken by undergraduate honors students in various disciplines. The first honors thesis was prepared in 1928, and each year approximately 15-30 titles are added to the collection. The collection also includes theses for the few master’s degrees that Wheaton awarded throughout the years. While not all honors theses were submitted for binding, particularly in the 1960s-1980s, most recent theses are submitted in both paper and digital format, and can also be found in Wheaton’s digital repository.
Larcom Collection
Lucy Larcom, a widely popular nineteenth century poet and one of the original "mill girls" of Lowell, MA, was an influential and beloved teacher of English composition at Wheaton from 1854 to 1862 and from 1865 to 1867. She established the student literary magazine, The Rushlight, which remains in publication. This collection, established in her memory by family members, contains books by and about Miss Larcom and volumes from her personal library. It also contains letters, manuscript poems and lectures, copy books, diaries, artwork, furniture, photographs, memorabilia, and family papers generously donated by Larcom descendants to form an extensive manuscript collection.
Restricted Collection
Rare, fragile, and valuable books, many with fine illustrations as well as some association (autographed) volumes are collected here. This collection consists of the humanistic record in its longest form, spanning the Middle Ages to the present.
Wheaton Female Seminary Library
Books known to have been in the Seminary Library from 1838 to ca. 1912 were culled from circulation to create this collection. Many titles bearing the stamp, "Wheaton Female Seminary Library," remain in the stacks and continue to circulate. Textbooks necessary for study at Wheaton Female Seminary were listed in the annual catalogues, and this collection also contains a small but representative sample of those required texts.
Paul H. Smart Collection
Paul H. Smart, a former member of the Library Visiting Committee and son of the late Wheaton Trustee and Acting President, George T. Smart, established this collection in 1967 when he generously donated his collection of private press editions and fine bindings to the College. The collection’s strengths include books produced by Doves Press, Groliers, Riverside Press, and Bruce Rogers. Only artists’ books are currently added to this collection.
Wheaton Authors Collection
This collection is comprised of the published works of faculty, administrators, and staff that were written, researched or published while they were employed at Wheaton and of alumni publications whenever they were produced.

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Use of the Collections

Restricted records

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.


Rules and guidelines for use of the collections

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.


Attribution Policy

When publishing materials from the Marion B. Gebbie Class of 1901 Archives and Special Collections, please send two copies of the publication to the Archives, and attribute the materials in the following way: Name of Collection. Courtesy of Marion B. Gebbie Archives and Special Collections. Wallace Library. Wheaton College (MA).

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Services Provided

The Marion B. Gebbie Class of 1901 Archives and Special Collections is happy to offer the following services:


Reading room service

Researchers must schedule an appointment in order to use the reading room. Walk-in users may be accommodated on a case-by-case basis, dependent on the availability of archives staff.


Research assistance

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.


Small-scale digitization

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 archives staff.


Records management assistance

All records created or received by administrative and academic offices in the daily course of business, regardless of the format in which the record was created, are the property of Wheaton College. The RIM program is a function of the Archives and Special Collections and is responsible for assisting Wheaton College employees in managing Wheaton College records and educating employees about other related records and information management topics. Everyone is responsible for managing their own records. Contact for information about:
  • Records consultations
  • Starting the records scheduling process
  • Scheduling training sessions
  • Transferring records to inactive or permanent storage
  • Retrieving records from inactive or permanent storage
  • All other records and information management questions
Contact your department's Records Liaison(s) for information about:
  • Department specific records questions
  • Records schedule changes
  • Records in inactive storage


General inquiries

We are happy to provide answers to general inquiries. 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.

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Services Not Provided

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.


Collection appraisals

We do not offer collection appraisals.


Large-scale digitization

Digitization of complete works or collections are beyond our capabilities. Digitization requests will be considered at the discretion of the Archivist.


Research beyond the scope of the Archives’ collections

Members of the Wheaton College community can contact the Wallace Library subject librarians for general research help.


Research in digitized collections

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.


Group visits and primary source instruction

As staffing has changed in the Archives, group visits and primary source instruction are unavailable. 


Pickup and delivery of paper files

To have administrative files transferred to the Archives, please fill out a work order and alert the Archivist.


General library instruction

Wheaton College faculty may contact the Wallace Library subject librarians to schedule library research instruction.


Color printing

The Archives does not have a color printer on the premises. For color printing, please use the printers in the library atrium.


Processing of large donations without accompanying funding

Please review the library’s Collection Policy for further information and details.

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Service Levels by Constituency


President’s Office, Board of Trustees & College Officers

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.


Faculty & Staff

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 archives staff for supplementary research time. Any research that requires more than three hours and additional students will be deemed a project subject to prioritization.


External Researchers

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.

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