Special Research Resources
The Special Collections Department, based in Canaday Library, houses extensive holdings of art, artifacts, archival materials, rare books, and manuscripts, and these are available for use in classes and for individual research projects.
Bryn Mawr has developed an extraordinarily rich Rare Books and Manuscripts collection to support the research interests of students. The collection of late Medieval and Renaissance texts includes one of the country’s largest groups of books printed in the 15th century, as well as manuscript volumes and 16th-century printed books. Complementary to the rare books are collections of original letters, diaries and other unpublished documents. Bryn Mawr has important literary collections from the late 19th and 20th centuries, including papers relating to the women’s rights movement and the experiences of women, primarily Bryn Mawr graduates, working overseas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The College Archives contains the historical records of Bryn Mawr, including letters of students and faculty members, and an extensive photographic collection that documents the social, intellectual, administrative, and personal aspects of campus activities and student life.
The Art and Artifacts collection includes objects of interest to students of anthropology, archaeology, the fine and decorative arts, geology, and related inter- and multi-disciplinary courses of study.
The Anthropology collections include objects from around the world, with the largest portion of these collections originating from North America, South America and Africa. These collections comprise numerous categories of objects: African and Oceanic works, Southwest pottery and Native American ritual, functional, and decorative objects, and Pre-Columbian ceramics and textiles from present-day Peru, among many others.
The Archaeology collections include an extensive group of Greek and Roman objects, especially vases, a selection of pre-classical antiquities, and objects from Egypt and the ancient Near East, many of which represent the scholarship of Bryn Mawr faculty from the beginnings of the college to the present day.
The Fine Art collections include important holdings of prints, drawings, photographs, paintings and sculpture. The painting collection of approximately 250 works is primarily composed of 19th- and 20th-century American and European works; highlights include John Singer Sargent’s 1899 portrait of Bryn Mawr President M. Carey Thomas. The print collection illustrates the history of Western printmaking from the 15th through the mid-20th centuries and includes Old Master prints, art prints, and examples of 19th-century book illustrations. The collection also includes Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, works in a wide range of media by contemporary women artists, Chinese paintings and calligraphy, and early, modern, and contemporary photography.
Objects held in all of these collections are available to students for research and are also frequently used as teaching tools in the classroom and incorporated into exhibitions in libraries and other spaces across the campus.
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 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.