Bryn Mawr houses several important resources that serve as vital research tools for undergraduate and graduate students.
The ethnographic and archaeological collections housed in Thomas Hall are two of many collections managed by the College’s Collection staff. As a whole, the College Collection is comprised of Applied and Decorative Arts, Archaeology, Ethnography, Fine Art and Photography collections. The College Collection is accessible to Bryn Mawr students and serves as research resources. Collection objects are also used as teaching tools in the classroom and are exhibited in small displays in Dalton and Carpenter Library.
The Ethnographic and Archaeological Collections housed in Thomas Hall are comprised of objects from around the world and were systematically organized by the department’s founder, Frederica de Laguna. The largest portions of these collections originate from North America, South America and Africa. The William. S. Vaux Collection, a gift of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, consists of archaeology from North, Central and South America, and Old World Europe, and ethnographic objects made by Native Americans. Other important collections include: the Mace and Helen Katz Neufeld ’53 Collection of African and Oceanic Art; the Twyeffort-Hollenback Collection of Southwest Pottery and Native American Ethnography; the George and Anna Hawks Vaux ’35, M.A. ’41 Collection of Native American Basketry from the Southwest, California and the Pacific Northwest; and the Ward and Mariam Coffin Canaday, A.B. 1906 Collection of Pre-Columbian Ceramics and Textiles from Peru. These main collections have been augmented by important gifts from faculty members, alumnae and friends of the College, such as Frederica de Laguna ’27, Margaret Feurer Plass ’17, Conway Zirkle and Helen E. Kingsbury ’20, M.A. ’21, and Milton Nahm. The collections are also supplemented by departmental holdings of osteological specimens, casts of fossil hominids and a small but growing collection of ethnomusical recordings representing the music of native peoples in all parts of the world.
The Department of Anthropology also houses the Laboratory of Pre-Industrial Technology, which provides a variety of resources and instrumentation for the study of traditional technologies in the ancient and modern worlds. The anthropology laboratories are used by undergraduate and graduate students in other disciplines.
The Ella Riegel Memorial Study Collection of Classical Archaeology, housed on the third floor of the M. Carey Thomas Library, West Wing, is an excellent study collection of Greek and Roman minor arts, especially vases, a selection of preclassical antiquities, and objects from Egypt and the ancient Near East. It was formed from private donations, such as the Densmore Curtis Collection presented by Clarissa Dryden, the Elisabeth Washburn King Collection of classical Greek coins, and the Aline Abaecherli Boyce Collection of Roman Republican silver coins. The late Professor Hetty Goldman gave the Ella Riegel Memorial Study Collection an extensive series of pottery samples from the excavation at Tarsus in Cilicia. The objects in the collection are used used in teaching and for research projects by undergraduate and graduate students.
The Fine Arts Collections, based in Thomas Library, include important holdings of prints, drawings, photographs, paintings and sculpture. Among the highlights are a core collection of master European prints; the Van Pelt Collection of European and American prints from the 16th to the 20th centuries; the Scott Memorial Study Collection of Works by Contemporary Women Artists; collections of Japanese woodblock prints; Chinese paintings and calligraphy; the Michaelis Collection of early photography; and collections of the works of women photographers.
Because laboratory work in geology is based on observations in the field, the department conducts field trips in most of its courses and also has additional trips of general interest. To aid in the study of observations and samples brought back from the field, the department has excellent petrographic and analytical facilities, extensive reference and working mineral collections, including the George Vaux Jr. Collection and the Theodore D. Rand Collection of approximately 10,000 specimens each, and a fine fossil collection. As a repository for the U.S. Geological Survey, the map library contains 40,000 topographical maps.
The Department of Sociology helps maintain the Social Science Statistical Laboratory, which consists of computers and printers staffed by undergraduate user consultants. A library of data files is available for student and faculty research and instructional use. Data library resources include election and census studies, political and attitudinal polling data, historical materials on the city of Philadelphia, national and cross-national economic statistics, ethnographic data files for cross-cultural study, and a collection of materials relevant to the study of women. Access to other data is available through the College’s membership in the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research.
The Rhys Carpenter Library houses the Visual Resources Center, which supports instruction by providing access to visual media and by facilitating the use of digital tools. The Center’s main role is serving coursework — principally in History of Art, Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, and the Growth and Structure of Cities Program — through a collection of 240,000 slides as well as study prints and digitized images.