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Fees & Payment

Special Collections is pleased to provide reproductions of our textual, visual and audio materials, when such reproductions will not damage the original or violate any restrictions on the materials. Pre-payment is required on all orders. The reproduction fees charged by Special Collections are dedicated to the ongoing access and preservation of its holdings. Note that large orders may take an extended period to fill.

Digital Preservation

What is Digital Preservation?

Digital preservation is the active management of digital content over time. It combines policies, strategies and actions to ensure access to reformatted and born digital content regardless of the challenges of media failure and technological change. The goal of digital preservation is the accurate rendering of authenticated content.  [from American Library Association and Library of Congress]

Sophia Smith Collection


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Mortimer Rare Book Room History

Rare Books Defined

In the 1980s, curator of rare books Ruth Mortimer created a list of definitions or guidelines for both readers and possible donors to the Rare Book Room. The handout included this caveat: Rare books, by their nature, do not adapt well to definition … The pleasure of collecting rare books lies in assessing the peculiarities of each volume. The current rare book collection contains items ranging in date from approximately 3,000 B.C.

Mortimer Rare Book Room History

Our Smallest Books

The Mortimer Rare Book Room is home to a sizable collection of miniature books, defined as being three inches or less in height. They cover a variety of subjects and styles: English literature, the bible, Latin classics, alphabets, fine bindings. Also represented are the tiniest of volumes, dollhouse miniatures.

Mortimer Rare Book Room History

Our Oldest Objects

In the fall of 1993, the Department of Religion and Biblical Literature transferred 370 Babylonian clay tablets to the Rare Book Room. The tablets were probably excavated in what is now Iraq and were gradually procured for Smith since 1915 by professors Irving F. Wood and Elihu Grant.

Mortimer Rare Book Room History

Before they were “rare”  

The genesis of the rare book collection came in the 1940s when early printed books were brought from the general library stacks into a more protective environment. The presence of library call numbers on the spines of many books now in the Rare Book Room indicates that they circulated at one time: students could check them out for use outside the library.

Mortimer Rare Book Room History

The Dimock Collection

On the occasion of an exhibition in October 2000 of selections from the Dimock Collection in the Mortimer Rare Book Room, director of Libraries Christopher Loring remarked:

Mortimer Rare Book Room History

Henry Latimer Seaver, 1878-1976

In April 1960, College Librarian Margaret Johnson wrote a memo about fundraising possibilities for the planned new Rare Book Room. At the top of her list of people who “have shown definite interest in the Rare Book Room through their gifts,” was Henry L. Seaver, a member of the architecture faculty at MIT.

Mortimer Rare Book Room History

The McConnell-Bohning Fund

In February 1976, the Rare Book Room acquired an unusual dance instruction book , one of Ruth Mortimer’s earliest purchases as curator. This ballroom dance for one couple was choreographed by English dancing master Mr. Isaac (circa 1640-1720) and preserved in Feuillet notation which visually traces the pattern of the dance. The bar lines in the dance pattern correspond to bar lines in the music score. One of the dance patterns was reproduced for a number of years on the cover of the Rare Book Room brochure.

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