Donating Materials

Why Donate?

The Archives and Special Collections collect the papers and records of individuals, institutions and organizations associated with Mount Holyoke College. The records are maintained as primary resources for teaching and research. The manuscript collections document the social history of this country and other countries primarily as seen through the eyes of women and the educators of women. The collections also document the social history of Mount Holyoke College through the letters, diaries, photographs, scrapbooks and course records of faculty and students. Each year these collections are consulted by thousands of researchers from around the world. With the donation of each new collection, we are able to the increase the breadth and depth of our resources to better serve the educational needs of the College and of scholars who are drawn to our collections due to Mount Holyoke's prominent place in the history of women's education. Each donation helps to enlarge the documentation not only of the effect of Mount Holyoke on the world, but of the effect of individuals on the institution itself.

The Archives and Special Collections collect rare books related to a wide variety of areas, fields and disciplines. The rare book collection serves as a primary resource for teaching and research conducted by student, faculty and other researchers. Donations to this collection, or monetary donations for the purchase of rare books, help us to increase the breadth and depth of our collections and thus allows us to better support the curricular needs of the College.

What Should I Donate?

While the Archives and Special Collections is always looking for complete collections that document the life and work on an individual or the history of an institution/organization associated with the College, we are also happy to receive single items as well. In general the Archives and Special Collections staff prefer to work closely with donors, prior to the donation of a collection, to determine what records or documents within their papers have continuing historic interest. The importance of records and documents diminish if they are removed, reordered or rearranged. Donors are encouraged to contact the Archives and Special Collections prior to sorting or rearranging materials they wish to donate.

Below are two lists of some types of materials that we collect. Please note that this list is not definitive and there may be other types of documents or records not included here that may have continuing research value.

Personal and Family Papers:

  • Letters
  • Diaries
  • Scrapbooks
  • Speeches
  • Research Notes
  • Lecture Notes
  • Still Images
  • Moving Images
  • Biographical Info.
  • Genealogical Info.
  • Professional Files
  • Audio Recordings

Organization and Institutional Records:

  • Articles of Incorporation
  • By-laws
  • Annual Reports
  • Correspondence
  • Meeting Minutes
  • Legal Documents
  • Financial Documents
  • Planning Documents
  • Press Releases
  • Publications
  • Still & Moving Images
  • Audio Recordings 

Rare Books

The Archives and Special Collections main rare book collections include: American history, illustrated editions of Dante Alighieri's Divina commedia, 19th century text books which are known to have been used in the courses of study at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, rare children's books, published works related to the Collège de 'pataphysique, Renaissance Science books, and fine press books. Because our collections cover more than these main areas, gifts of books that fall outside of these areas will be considered on an individual basis. Both small, single volume, or larger, multi-volume, donations will be considered.

How Do I Make A Donation?

The first step in making a donation is to contact the Archives and Special Collections. In cases where the donation is relatively local or is large in quantity, the Archives Special Collections staff may wish to see them before they are physically transferred.

Ownership is transferred when the donor signs a deed of gift. While the deed of gift is a standard document, it can be customized to suite the needs of individual donors. In most cases the Archives and Special Collections will not accept gifts unless the ownership and copyright are transferred to Mount Holyoke College.

Restrictions on Access

The Archives and Special Collections encourage full access to all collections. On occasion access to certain materials within a collection may be restricted for a set period of time. In these instances the Archives and Special Collections staff will discuss with the donor reasonable restrictions on access in accordance with the policies of the Archives and Special Collections.


Copyright usually belongs to the creator of records (letters, diaries, photographs, etc.). The Archives and Special Collections strongly encourage donors to consider transferring copyright of their papers to Mount Holyoke College. Transfer of copyright greatly assists researchers who might wish to quote or cite references in the collection.

Monetary Appraisal for Tax Deductions

Donors may be able to take a tax deduction for the donation. Donors wishing to have more information on this matter should speak with either a tax consultant or an attorney. College policy prohibits the Archives and Special Collections from providing monetary valuations of collections. Donors wishing to hire an appraiser can contact the Archives and Special Collections for a list of for-hire appraisers.

Care for Collections

The Archives and Special Collections is managed by professional archivists and librarians whose first priority is preservation of and access to historic materials. The Archives and Special Collection staff arrange, describe and catalog collections to ensure ease of access by researchers.

Should a collection require repair or other conservation work the Archives and Special Collections will consult with professional conservators. No primary source materials circulate and only Archives and Special Collections staff may retrieve materials for researchers.

Monetary Donations

The cost of caring for, describing and giving access to rare and historic materials is extremely high. Donors are encouraged to consider making a monetary donation toward the arrangement, description and preservation of their donation.

Further Information

For further information on donating your papers or records to the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections, please contact the Director at:

Phone: (413)538-2441
Address: Mount Holyoke College
Archives and Special Collections
8C Dwight Hall
50 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075

Significant assistance with the text for this section came from A Guide To Donating Your Personal or Family Papers to a Repository, Society of American Archivists, 1994