A Few Well Selected Books

Evolving Collections at Haverford, 1880-present

A Haverford College Quaker and Special Collections Online Exhibition

Non-book collecting at Haverford

left arrow
right arrow
19th Century Museum Catalogue for Haverford's Loganian Society Annals of Haverford College Manuscript from the J. Rendel Harris Collection Photograph of President Lincoln and son, Fine Arts Photography Collection Painting of a white birch tree donated by Haverford Alumnus Maxfield Parrish Haverford's online senior thesis archiveHaverford's students are responsible for doing a lot of the work on Haverford's online special collections.
There is also a long tradition of collecting non-book items on Haverford's campus. Even before the school opened in 1833, it had received a donation of 800 rock specimens from its benefactress Beulah Sansom. Almost as soon as classes had begun, the Loganian Society, whose membership included both students and faculty, started a museum collection. A great variety of objects are recorded in the society's early museum catalog, above, including a sample of travertine marble from the Appian way, ashes from the tomb of St. Clara in Italy, a bag fashioned from grass in Africa, and a battle axe and canoe paddle from the South Sea Islands.
Many early archival treasures are manuscripts. The above illustration is the title page of the first history of the College, written by some of its first students.
The J. Rendel Harris Collection of Middle Eastern manuscripts has been at Haverford since the 1890s, when Professor Harris presented them to the College.
The Fine Art Photography collection was started much later, in the 1970s, but in it the College has accumulated many excellent examples of early photographs, such as this photograph of President Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad.
The Fine Arts Collection is smaller, but nevertheless contains a number of significant works, including this painting, "Early Autumn, White Birch," by Haverford Alumnus Maxfield Parrish.
Today, the fastest growing collections at Haverford are digital collections. Current students find our online Senior Thesis Archive to be an extremely helpful resource as they prepare their own final projects.
Scholars around the world can now use Haverford's rare materials through the many digitized versions of Haverford special collections. One of the largest of these collections is the Cope Evans family papers. Students working at the Library have transcribed and digitized over 2000 letters for this online collection.
Non-book collecting at HaverfordLoading image. Please wait

From its original catalog of 770 titles, the Haverford collection stands now at about 625,000 titles, including not only printed books of the sort that the first students would recognize but thousands of items in formats that were not yet invented in 1836--microfilm, sound and video recordings, websites, and electronic databases, journals, and books. The Library also collects other types of materials previous generations might not have thought to preserve: periodicals, diaries, the records of organizations, and photographs.

Access to collections at Haverford has grown the most not through the acquisition of physical materials but through cooperative agreements with other libraries and through the creation and licensing of digital collections. Its libraries will only continue to become more interdependent in the coming years. Newer challenges such as the curation and preservation of online archives and data sets will occupy more and more of librarians' time, as will assisting users in navigating the vast, complex digital world.