Hampden-Sydney College Archives & Special Collections contains a variety of primary source documents, photographs, blueprints, maps, rare books, and other one-of-a-kind materials reflective of the nearly 250 year history of the institution and its surroundings. The cataloging and processing of this collection is an ongoing, full-time project, and we are working hard to inventory, describe, and provide accessibility to these unique materials.
Finding aids for our larger collections may be discovered in our archival catalog, but are also accessible through our general library catalog. Our rare book holdings are also discoverable via the general library catalog. We are working to increase accessibility to items of noteworthy visual or historical value as well, and scans or photographs of such items may be found through our digital collections platform.
If you are interested in viewing non-circulating archival material, or if you are unable to find what you are looking for via the methods listed above, we suggest that you contact Sarah Almond, Hampden-Sydney’s Archival & Digital Projects Librarian. You can request materials and make an appointment to visit Archives & Special Collections here.
Although a staff member may be available to assist walk-in patrons, we strongly encourage you to make an appointment and describe your research goals prior to your visit. Please note that appointments must be made for times between the hours of 9:00am and 4:30pm, Monday through Friday; Hampden-Sydney College Archives & Special Collections is not open on evenings and weekends at this time. In addition, we ask that you allow two to three days for location and delivery of your archival items.
Genealogy is a popular research topic for our patrons. Though Bortz Library does not have a dedicated genealogy collection and carries a limited selection of local newspapers, Archives & Special Collections does carry materials related to prior Hampden-Sydney students, staff, and faculty. We have also put together a list of resources available online, visible as part of this guide.
We are happy to assist you with your genealogy research, but can do so most effectively when contacted prior to your visit. For best results, please email our Library Assistant for Public Services, Bret Peaden, or Sarah Almond. Please submit a request for research visit at least two business days prior to your intended visit.
Though Hampden-Sydney College has acquired and preserved archival material throughout its history, the Archives began in a more focused capacity with the College’s first official librarian, Paul L. Grier, who served from 1949 until his retirement in 1979. During this time, he created what is now known as the Paul L. Grier Vertical Files, a collection of primary source material related to the College that is organized by year, beginning with the founding of the College in 1776.
Library faculty and staff have continued to maintain the Vertical Files while also collecting additional records, photographs, and publications that document the history of Hampden-Sydney College, Farmville, and the surrounding community. Other items that may be found in the College Archives include the original Board of Trustees Minutes, which are stored in an environmentally controlled Vault located in the basement of Bortz Library. Access to all materials in the College Archives is by appointment. Specific items may be requested using our Research Request Form.
Special Collections at Hampden-Sydney College include manuscripts, books, oral histories, photographs, and other materials. It is the mission of Special Collections to gather together resources that document the diverse culture and history of Hampden-Sydney College, Alumni, and Faculty, as well as that of Prince Edward County and South Central Virginia at large.
Included in Special Collections is our Rare Books Collection. Rare Books are items that are considered valuable due to scarcity, age, printing and binding method, or material components, and have either been collected by the College or generously donated by patrons. Our Rare Books Collection includes illuminated incunabula, several first editions, and some unique publications produced in the now-defunct Confederate States of America.
This non-circulating collection is shelved in an environmentally controlled storage vault, located in the basement of Bortz Library. Rare Books may be searched for in the general library catalog, and access requested at the circulation desk or via our Research Request Form.
The Hampden-Sydney Collection includes books and a small number of manuscripts that are associated with the College, including history as well as works by faculty members and alumni. Most books in the Hampden-Sydney Collection are shelved in a special section on the fourth floor. All items from the Hampden-Sydney Collection may be found in the library catalog. If you are unsure about the location of a specific item, please ask a library staff member for assistance with finding and retrieving materials from this collection.
Patrons may request rare books or manuscripts from the Hampden-Sydney Collection via our Research Request Form, after which a library staff member will contact the patron to set up an appointment to view the materials.
The UPLS Collection consists of the books owned by the debate societies and donated to Hampden-Sydney College in the 19th century. UPLS books are housed in open stacks on the 4th floor, but they do not circulate. All items from the UPLS Collection may be found in the library catalog. If you are unsure about the location of a specific item, please ask a library staff member for assistance with finding and retrieving materials from this collection.
Rare and valuable books from this collection are shelved in the vault, and can be accessed by request at the circulation desk, or via our Research Request Form.
Manuscript collections in both the College Archives and Special Collections are listed in a separate Archival Catalog. Though direct access to most collections is not provided online, patrons may peruse online finding aids in order to locate pertinent research materials. Where digital components do exist, they will be linked through the Archival Catalog, or may be directly accessed through our Digital Collections Portal. Please note that Hampden-Sydney College Archives & Special Collections has a large backlog of unprocessed archival material that Bortz Library is working continuously to bring to light; patrons searching for specific archival matter or records that are unable to locate information in our general, archival,or digital catalogs should contact Sarah Almond, Archival & Digital Projects Librarian, for a consultation.
English is currently the primary language represented in College Archives & Special Collections.
The role of the College Archives is to identify, acquire, manage, preserve, and make available records of archival value. These records provide unique testimony to the achievements of individuals and entities within the Hampden-Sydney College Community and provide a collective memory. They also protect the college, its students, faculty, and staff as well as its business associates.
College Archives & Special Collections is the official repository for records at Hampden-Sydney. Records of the College are considered archival if they contain useful or significant administrative, legal, fiscal, evidential, or historical information and the records are not currently being used. This includes any documents, correspondence, accounts, policy statements, summaries, statistics, projections, programs, reports, papers, maps, books, photographs, or any items, regardless of physical form, that are created by an employee of the College in the performance of their responsibilities, and which are appropriate for preservation as evidence of institutional internal structure, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other basic activities, or because of the inherent informational value of such material.
Examples of such records could include Board of Trustees materials, records of the President, records of academic departments, and records of administrative departments, among other resources. College Archives also collects publications created by or under the authority of Hampden-Sydney College, records of student and faculty organizations, student publications, faculty and staff publications, and alumni publications. In addition, College Archives also houses memorabilia and ephemeral materials relating to the College.
Hampden-Sydney College Archives & Special Collections is currently in the process of drafting an official retention policy to be used throughout the campus. This policy will, in large part, be informed by schedules established by the Library of Virginia with regards to the retention and disposition of state and local public records.
Physical Collections held at Hampden-Sydney include the College Archives and as well as Special Collections materials. With the exception of Rare Books, which are in the general library catalog, descriptions of physical collections (known as Finding Aids) may be searched using our archival catalog.
Please note that Hampden-Sydney College Archives & Special Collections has a large backlog of unprocessed archival material; patrons searching our physical collections that are unable to locate information in our general or archival catalogs should contact Sarah Almond, Archival & Digital Projects Librarian, for a consultation.
H-SC Archives staff are working hard to make digital scans of our most unique primary source material and archival items available on our new digital collections platform. In the future, born-digital items such as pertinent email correspondence, oral history recordings, and research data may be stored on the platform as well.
Please note that our Digital Collections are updated frequently. Patrons unable to locate specific scans, or with suggestions for material to be digitized, should contact Sarah Almond, Archival & Digital Projects Librarian.
Hampden-Sydney College Archives & Special Collections is located on the fourth floor of Bortz Library on the Hampden-Sydney College campus at 257 Via Sacra. While everyone is welcome to explore Archives & Special Collections, holdings are closed to the public; it is recommended that all researchers (including students and faculty) contact the Archives to make an appointment to view requested materials.
Reading areas for researchers are located on the main floor of the Library, and it is recommended that researchers check-in at the Circulation Desk prior to their appointments. Archival staff will then retrieve all requested materials. Those wishing to conduct more generalized historical research into or seeking a tour through the material history of the College may want to visit the Esther Thomas Atkinson Museum, which is separate from Archives & Special Collections. More information about the museum, including hours of operation, is available here, and researchers may contact museum curator Angela Way using this form. As a general rule of thumb, the museum preserves historical artifacts, whereas Archives & Special Collections holdings primarily include books, records, and manuscripts.
Listed below are a couple of tips to help you make the most of your visit to the Hampden-Sydney Archives & Special Collections.
Trips to the Archives differ in many ways from regular trips to the library. Please read the guidelines below so that you know what to expect.
Many archival research opportunities are available via the internet. The National Archives and Records Administration is in the process of developing SNAC (Social Networks in Archival Context) to illuminate collections nationwide. Similarly, ArchiveGrid is an extension of WorldCat that can access descriptions of archival collections held at repositories around the world.
More locally, the Library of Virginia is a valuable resource for archival records and material. Similarly, the Virginia Heritage site is a consolidated database of archival finding aids from a variety of Virginia repositories.
Books, records, and other primary source materials are also available online, most reliably through the HathiTrust Digital Library, Google Books, and the Internet Archive. In your search for resources, these sites are always a good place to start.
For archival reference services or help locating particular archival items not held in the Hampden-Sydney College Archives & Special Collections, please contact Sarah Almond, Archival and Digital Projects Librarian, to set up a consultation.
Online Genealogical Resources