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Archives and Special Collections

Puffins in Audubon book

The Clark University Archives and Special Collections at the Robert H. Goddard Library is the repository for approximately 7,000 linear feet of rare books, manuscripts, University records, historical photographs and ephemera, Clark theses and dissertations, and other materials. In addition, we have extensive collections of unique digital materials available online.

Visit Archives and Special Collections for information about collections, finding aids, access to digital collections, visitor information, and policies. Contact for additional information or view our Frequently Asked Questions below.

Gems from the Archives

Clark’s Archives and Special Collections houses approximately 7,000 linear feet of materials. Ranging from books and artifacts to manuscripts and dissertations, the collections capture the essence of Clark and its storied history.
Clark University basketball team
The Archives includes photos of the Clark Cougars men’s basketball team from 1925 to 2003.
Clark Jonas Hall
Postcard depicting Jonas Clark Hall and the Science Building.
Clark classroom in thte 50s - 60s
Students jot down notes while listening to a lecture in the late 1950s or early ’60s.
old corner store, now the site of Annie's Clark brunch
An old corner store, now the site of the famous and beloved Annie’s Clark Brunch.
Buzz Aldrin signed book
This miniature autobiography of Robert Goddard traveled to the moon with astronaut Buzz Aldrin during the 1969 moon landing.
old Clark University library (now Jefferson Hall)
A view of the “Old Library” (now Jefferson Academic Center) prior to the construction of the Robert H. Goddard Library in 1969. The main entrance, which was on Main Street, is now sealed.
Seneca book of philosophy
A 1658 imprint of the works of Seneca published in Amsterdam.
Robert Goddard mini book
The miniature autobiography of Robert H. Goddard, printed and bound in Worcester in 1966.
The Clark pep band
The Clark Pep Band performs a tune in the gymnasium.
Clark University book of hours
The Book of Hours, 1423.
Clark psychology department in 1914
A view from the Psychology Department at Clark in 1914. One of the oldest departments on campus, it was spearheaded by the University’s first president, G. Stanley Hall.
Phillis Wheatley book of poems
“Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral,” a rare first-edition volume by 18th-century African American poet Phillis Wheatley Peters.
Albert A. Michelson's interferometer
Clark Physics Professor Albert A. Michelson’s interferometer. In 1907, Michelson was the first American to win a Nobel Prize in any science.
clark students playing tug of war across crystal pond
Clark students used to participate in a yearly tug-of-war contest across Crystal Pond. The tradition began in 1909; the photo collage above is from 26 years later, 1935.
Robert Goddard rocket patent
In 1914, Robert Goddard was awarded his first two patents for the rocket apparatus: for a liquid-fuel gun rocket and a multistage step rocket.

Frequently Asked Questions

Archives and Special Collections and the Rare Book Room are located on the first floor of the Goddard Library, off the Academic Commons.

No, you will need to use the materials in the Archives or Rare Book Room. Our materials do not circulate but we are able to digitize some materials and make them available through our website.

Yes. as long as you do not use a flash.

We are not allowed to show the records of someone who is still alive to another person. If the person you are interested in has died, we would need to see some record of that, like an obituary, before showing the materials.

We have most of them. Before the Archives were established in 1972, all theses and dissertations were in the circulating collection of the University library, and some were borrowed and never returned. Because the University has only this one copy, we do not lend out master’s or doctoral theses, and they must be used on site. We also digitize theses and dissertations, when feasible.

Libbey Slide Collection

Picture of Libbey

In 1928, Clark University was given the library of Dr. William Libbey, professor of physical geography and director of the Museum of Geology and Archeology at Princeton University. Included in the gift were 14,000 lantern slides dating between 1860 and 1910.

The collection consists of both commercial sets as well as personal original photographs. It includes 100 series of slides — each dealing with a specific topic, state, or country — representing a remarkable cross section of the geography and people of many parts of the globe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

About Lantern Slides

Lantern slides, the precursor to modern cardboard- or plastic-mounted slides, consist of two small glass plates. One plate is coated with an emulsion that captures an image when exposed to light, and a second glass plate is placed over the first to protect the emulsion. A cutout border, usually of black paper, is placed between the glass plates to act as a frame for the picture. The glass plates are sealed together with black tape. The projector used to illuminate the slides was called a “magic lantern” — hence the term “lantern slides.”

Although magic lanterns were used to project transparent drawings before 1839, it was not until 1850 that glass photographic slides were made in the United States. They became a common form of home entertainment, reaching their highest level of popularity by 1900. They continued to be widely used until 35mm film and cameras became readily available in the late 1920s to the mid-1930s.

Generally, lantern slides were black and white, but they could be hand-tinted with transparent oils. They were often commercially produced and typically sold by opticians who purchased the rights to the photographs, reproduced them as lantern slides, and sold them either singly or in sets. Descriptive booklets were often included with the sets. Many of the pioneers of photography had their photographs reproduced in this fashion.

The Libbey Slide Collection

Doctor William Libbey

Libbey became interested in photography as an undergraduate at Princeton University and embarked on many expeditions during his lifetime. Many of those travels are documented in his collection. The series housed at Clark includes photographs from:

  • An 1877 Princeton scientific expedition to Utah.
  • An 1878 expedition to view a solar eclipse near Denver, Colorado.
  • An 1886 expedition organized by the New York Times to climb Mt. St. Elias in Alaska alongside Lt. Frederick Schwatka. This series includes photographs of the Yakutat Indians in Yakutat Bay.
  • 1894 and 1899 Peary Expeditions to Greenland.
  • A 1902 expedition to Jordan, about which Libbey co-authored his most famous publication, The Jordan Valley and Petra.
  • A 1908 expedition to Yellowstone Park.

There are currently approximately 20,000 glass lantern slides housed in Clark University’s Map Library. In addition to the 14,000 from Libbey’s personal collection, 6,000 more were acquired from Clark’s Graduate School of Geography in 1985.

Contact Information

Robert H. Goddard Library

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