Special Collections Research Center
The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) of the Earl Gregg Swem Library of the College of William and Mary in Virginia defines and enhances the history of the University and promotes and preserves the scholarly pursuits of its faculty, students, alumni, visiting scholars, and friends. The SCRC contributes to the excellence of our scholarly reputation by providing the College with the rare books and unique manuscript and archival materials that make primary research possible. Additional information is available at the SCRC's website.
The SCRC holds over 40,000 books in the Rare Books and Archives Books collections and 1,000 collections in the University Archives and Manuscripts Collections. It has a total of 24,140 linear feet of shelving in its main storage area (Pav. B: 10,143; TC: 204; Pav. A: 13,793).
The mission of the Manuscripts area of Special Collections is to provide primary source material for the College of William and Mary faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and visiting scholars and researchers.
The Manuscripts Collections are primarily focused on Virginia history from the 17th to the 21st centuries. They include the papers of many famous alumni and individuals who have shaped the course of Virginia and the nation. Among them are:
- Virginia Family Papers including the Blows, the Galts, the Taliaferros, the Tylers, the Blairs, the Robbs, the Carters, and the Armisteads
- The Tucker - Coleman Collection
- Local History and Genealogy Collections including the Williamsburg Historic Records Association and the Tyree Collection
- Distinguished Alumni Papers that include those of Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, John Marshall, and John Tyler
- Twentieth Century Political Papers including those of Governor Mills E. Godwin and Governor and Congressman William Munford Tuck
- Business Papers including 18th and 19th century account books
- Sheet Music from the late 18th, 19th and 20th centuries
- Newspapers numbering over 750 titles mainly Virginian
- Maps including the famed "Frenchman's Map" of Williamsburg in 1782
- Military Papers including those of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and colonial Colonel Leven Powell of Loudon County
The Rare Books Collection is a vital, growing collection that provides research opportunities in many areas of western thought and experience from history to religion and science to art. Like the Manuscript Collections the Rare Books Collection focuses primarily on Virginia history but includes collections that cover many other areas and interests that span the 15th through the 21st centuries.
The Rare Books Collection is actually made up of many distinct collections which each focus on a particular subject area or a particular period in the history of the book. These libraries include:
- The general rare books collection which focuses mainly on Virginiana but contains books on historic gardening, military history, early American culture, travel accounts, science and medicine. There are seven beautiful incunabula (books printed before 1501) in the collection.
- There are five family libraries in amongst the Rare Books. These are the Skipwith library, the Tucker - Coleman library, the Jerdone Library, the John Minson Galt library, and the John Millington Library. They all date from the 18th and 19th centuries.
- The Francis Nicholson Library is in the process of being acquired by Special Collections. It is our goal to recreate the original library of the College of William and Mary given by the colonial governor before the 1705 fire destroyed all but the single volume we have left. We now have more than 80 of the original 150 titles in the library.
- The Ralph Green collection on printing and the Joseph Hennage collection on printing and the Carol Beinbrink collection on papermaking total more than 1400 volumes on the history of the book as an object and includes our oldest title the Quadragesimale by Johannes Gritsch printed in 1479.
- The Ralph H. Wark Collection of fore-edge paintings. Fore-edge paintings are painted on the edges of the leaves of a book so that they can only be seen when the edges are fanned. Exquisitely rendered paintings like this date almost entirely from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth centuries in England.
- The Chapin-Horowitz collection of cynogetica. This is the second largest collection of books about dogs in this country and continues to grow through its own endowment. It contains scholarly work that dates back to the sixteenth century as well as children's literature, breed guides, and the records of the American Kennel Club.
The University Archives is the memory of the College of William and Mary, documenting its history from before the founding in 1693 to the present. The wide variety of materials relating to the College and its people through the years includes official records created in the College's daily operations, photographs, publications, video and audio tape recordings, personal papers and books or articles written by or about past or current William and Mary people, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and artifacts. Additional information is available at the University Archives webpage.
Warren E. Burger Collection
The Warren E. Burger Collection consists of the lifetime professional and personal papers and memorabilia of the late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, as well as of related acquisitions, collected by the College.
Highlights of the Tucker-Coleman Room in the Special Collections Research Center include:
- St. George Tucker (1752-1827), Professor of Law, Lawyer, poet portrait on back wall
- Nathaniel Beverley Tucker (1784-1851), Lawyer, portrait left of doors
- George Preston Coleman (1870-1948), Commissioner of Highways, Civil Engineer, Mayor of Williamsburg (1929-1934); Coleman Bridge (Gloucester Point -Yorktown) named after him, portrait right of doors
Portraits in the Special Collections Research Center
Note: Some portraits in the SCRC are in areas requiring a staff escort, so advance notice of a visit is requested. SCRC staff is usually able to accommodate requests to view portraits from drop-in visitors, but instances when there is an event, short-staffing, or other circumstance in the SCRC may impact immediate availability (for instance, a Saturday visitor may have to wait to be escorted to a restricted area while we are assisting a researcher). We make every effort to meet the requests of visitors, but calling ahead is also appreciated when possible.
Portraits that can be viewed in the Special Collections Research Center include:
- St. George Tucker (1752-1827), Professor of Law, Lawyer, poet; portrait on back wall of the Tucker Coleman Room (requires advance notice to SCRC staff to view).
- Nathaniel Beverley Tucker (1784-1851), Lawyer, portrait left of doors in the Tucker Coleman Room (requires advance notice to SCRC staff to view).
- George Preston Coleman (1870-1948), Commissioner of Highways, Civil Engineer, Mayor of Williamsburg (1929-1934); Coleman Bridge (Gloucester Point -Yorktown) named after him, portrait right of doors in the Tucker Coleman Room (requires advance notice to SCRC staff to view).
- Cynthia Beverly Tucker Washington Coleman (1832-1908); founder of the APVA (Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities), portrait in SCRC reception area (in public area, does not require SCRC staff escort). The portrait was received in December 2004. It hung for many years in the Tucker house while Dr. Janet Coleman Kimbrough lived in the house. She was the last Tucker descendant to live in the house.
- Peter Chapin, For whom the collection of Dog Books is named, by E.L. Swan, portrait in SCRC reception area (in public area, does not require SCRC staff escort).
- William Barton Rodgers (1804-1882), William and Mary student, 1819-1821; Professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry, 1828-1835; Founder and first president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), by Bethuel Moore. Gift of James Stewart Bryan. Portrait in SCRC reception area (in public area, does not require SCRC staff escort).
- Robert Gilchrist Robb (1875-1951), William and Mary student, 1891-1893; Professor of Chemistry, 1918-1946; Alumni Medallion Recipient, by H. Ledyard Towle in 1958. Gift of friends and students. Portrait in SCRC reception area (in public area, does not require SCRC staff escort).
- John Marshall, photo reproduction of an oil on campus dating circa 1834, by John Blennerhassett Martin (1797-1857), in Burger Office (in public area, does not require SCRC staff escort).
- Warren Burger, photo reproduction of an oil on campus dating circa 1969, by Birney Lettick (1919-1986), published in Time Magazine May 30, 1969, in Burger Office (in public area, does not require SCRC staff escort).
- Richard Channing Moor Page, M.D., Born in Gloucester County, Virginia in 1840, Died in New York on June 18, 1898, by Charles H. Sherman, in Burger Conference Room (requires advance notice to SCRC staff to view).
- Louise Rowe Pullen, by Stanislav Rembski, in Burger Conference Room (requires advance notice to SCRC staff to view).
- Thomas Granville Pullen, Jr., by Stanislav Rembski, in Burger Conference Room (requires advance notice to SCRC staff to view).
- A. Willis Robertson, photograph, Virginia State Senate, 1916-1922; U.S. House of Representatives, 1932-1946; U.S. Senate, 1946-1966; Chairman of the Committee on Banking and Currency, 1959-1966, on SCRC 2nd Floor (requires advance notice to SCRC staff to view).
- Robert Morton Hughes (1855-1940), Class of 1873; member, Board of Visitors, 1893-1918; Rector, 1905-1918; founder of the Marshall-Wythe School of Government and Citizenship. Portait, oil on canvas by Joseph M. Reeves, in SCRC Classroom (requires advance notice to SCRC staff to view).