Buildings at Smith College

June 13, 2007

This spring the Princeton Architectural Press rolled out, “Smith College: The Campus Guide”  as part of its on-going campus guide series.  Author Margaret Vickery spent a lot of time working in the College Archives collecting information and stories about the buildings that remain on campus, some that no longer exisit, and still others that never had the chance of making it from conceptual design to ‘real life.’  This guide is an important work for people interested in learning more about the surroundings of the place we live in and come to work in everyday. 

At the Archives Vickery worked with many collections and sources that document the growth of campus.  The following three collections were a wealth of information for her book, and you too can come and conduct research in them:

Smith College Buildings Files, A-Z:  Click on ‘view entire finding aid’ on the left-hand side bar for the complete listing. 

Smith College Grounds Collection, A-Z:  ‘Grounds’ at Smith include landscape design documents, Botanical Garden records, as well as photographs for sections of campus.

Office of the President Records, 1872-present:  Every president dealt in some form or other with the expansion of campus, whether through acquisition of land, or purchase of pre-existing buildings.  For the tenure of most presidents, there are files specifically relating to the Buildings & Grounds department, that document these changes.  There may also be correspondence with donors, architects, constructions firms, as well as subject files for specific projects around campus.

These are but 3 of the collections that Vickery used in her research.  Biographical files, official publications, as well as photographic evidence all offer additional pieces to the story of Smith’s campus. 

If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to come to the Archives to review our sources, or contact us for more information.  Our website at is a useful first step to learning about us.



June 1, 2007

My colleague Leslie Fields posted a message on her blog For The Record ( the recent New Yorker article (May 28, 2007), describing Gordon Bell and his project for Microsoft called MyLifeBits.  Bell is recording “the daily minutuea of life” according to article author Alec Wilkinson.  Another recent article found in the February 2, 2007 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education by Scott Carlson describes his experiences with a digital audio recorder hanging around his neck.  Both articles are fascinating reading whether you agree with the concept of not. 

As an archivist, I think about the meriad of ways that one would need to “access the 22,000 emails, 58,000 photographs,…every Web page he [Bell] has visited.”  Why collect the data if it is not accessible?  That begs the question, is it necessary to collect the daily minutiae of life, even healthy?  What about the self-sensoring that goes on in daily life?  Is someone ready to be confronted with the reality of a recording that shows them in a differing light from what they believe?  What about the purpose of memory and context within life?  Can a recording, even the most faithful, deliver the multiple points of emotional, visual, psychic, and tactil access points to a life experience? 

There’s plenty to chew on in these articles and I hope to see, read and hear more about life-logging on this blog and others. 

School for Social Work connections

June 1, 2007

This week incoming and returning students of the Smith College School for Social Work (SSW) hit campus for an intensive 2 term coursework experience.  Afterward, SSW students head out to the field for practical applications of their classroom work.  There are many records in the College Archives that document the School.  If you are interested in learning more about the history of the School please consult the Five College Archives & Manuscripts Database at:, type in “Smith College School for Social Work” in the search box and scroll through the list that is generated.  You will find records in all sorts of places!  Also, feel free to contact the College Archives and ask for additional information.  Not all of the information about the collections is available in the database.