The Special Collections & Archives Department of Hutchins Library plays an important role in support of Berea College's mission and programs. The Department's rare books, archives, manuscripts, sound and visual media collections assist the College in providing an exceptionally strong liberal arts education for students from the Southern Appalachian region and beyond. It is the primary purpose of Special Collections & Archives to collect, preserve, and organize printed, archival, manuscript, and sound materials related to Berea College, the Southern Appalachian region, and the community of Berea.
Berea College Archives
The purpose of the Berea College Archives is to collect, preserve, organize and make accessible to researchers all significant, non-current institutional records that document the history and administration of Berea College as well as associated non-official records and papers that relate to the history of the college.
Southern Appalachian Archives
The Southern Appalachian Archives acquires materials documenting the history and culture of the Southern Appalachian region. Evaluating materials for possible acquisition involves consideration of a variety of factors including types of material; size and scope of the materials; subject areas; compatibility with other collections in the Southern Appalachian Archives; and the resources necessary to assume responsibility for the materials.
Historical Collections acquires materials relating to local history—the Berea community and southern Madison County—and selected materials of general historical interest and significance. The Library does not solicit historical material of a non-local or non-regional character, but it may accept such materials if they are judged to have inherent historical value and are deemed consistent with the College's mission and goals.
The Special Collections and Archives department seeks to acquire audio-visual materials documenting Berea College and the Southern Appalachian region. Of particular interest are non-commercial recordings and images of traditional music, folklore, storytelling, and other aspects of Appalachian folk culture as well as controversial and timely issues such as mountain top removal and the environment. Audio-visual materials documenting the work of Berea College are also acquired for inclusion in the Sound Archives.
Weatherford-Hammond Mountain Collection
The library seeks to acquire both newly published and out-of-print works documenting the Southern Appalachian region. This is a comprehensive collection, the aim of which (if not achievement) is exhaustiveness. Selected items relating to the Northern and Central Appalachian regions, as well as the Ozark Mountain region are also acquired from time to time for comparative purposes. Some commercial audio and visual recordings are selectively purchased for the collection.
The library acquires books, pamphlets, and other printed sources documenting Berea College and the city of Berea. These works include college histories and biographies, works of local history, and books written or edited by Berea College faculty, staff and alumni. Studies including or mentioning the College or the community and their associated personalities are also acquired. Lincoln Collection Two large gifts from John A. Shedd and Henry Schwarzchild make up the core of this collection. The library selectively purchases recent and out-of-print scholarly works on Abraham Lincoln for this collection. Generally, second copies of recent scholarship are also purchased for the circulating collection.
Curio (Rare Book) Collection
Most acquisitions for this area come from within Hutchins Library's existing collections or by occasional gifts and purchases. Particular strengths of the collection include important examples of fifteenth century incunabula, early printed works, centuries-old Bibles, and first editions of American and British literature. Other important subject areas include nineteenth century anti-slavery literature, African American history, ballad books (unrelated to Southern Appalachia), and hymnals, nineteenth and early twentieth century travel accounts, as well as published records and histories of the American Civil War.