Davis Family Library: 7:30am - 1am
Armstrong Science Library: 7:45am - 12am
Library Response to COVID-19

Fall 2021

Topsell's kitty

A mischievous cat from the English Renaissance

A woodcut illustration of a cat, from Edward Topsell’s bestiary,The History of Four-footed Beasts, published in 1607. This detailed inventory of fantastical and realistic animals was one of many books in William Shakespeare’s library, a possible inspiration for the magical creatures in his play  “The Tempest.” Rare Books & Manuscripts-Oversize QL41 .T66 1607  

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference

Toni Morrison (1931 – 2019) the American novelist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, was a faculty member at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Ripton, Vermont, in the 1970s.

Kelmscott intial

Letter ‘O’ from the Kelmscott Press

A woodcut initial from Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair, a novel by William Morris published by the Kelmscott Press, in Hammersmith, England, 1895. Rare Books & Manuscripts PR5079 .C5 1895 volumes 1-2.

Frost's chair

Robert Frost’s Morris chair
date unknown

Chair from the wilderness cabin in Ripton, Vermont, seasonal home to the American poet, Robert Frost. 

Black and white image of Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf, author (1882-1941)

Virginia Woolf was an English author and member of the famous Bloomsbury group of writers and artists. Woolf and her husband, Leonard Woolf, founded the Hogarth Press publishing house. Visit Special Collections to view first editions of works by Virginia Woolf in dust jackets designed by her sister, Vanessa Bell.


Black and white circular image of mermaid snow sculpture

Winter Carnival snow sculpture

Circular image of female students knitting in a dorm room

Knitting in a dorm room

Circular image of a student performing a jump on skis

circa 1928

From an album compiled by William Storrs Lee, Class of 1928

Circular image of two people embracing

Elsie and “Miget” Jones
circa 1919

From the scrapbook of Ruth Hesselgrave, Class of 1919. This photo, among others, depicts Middlebury women, some of whom are dressed in men’s attire, having fun together.

Students canoeing down a hill covered in snow

Canoeing at Winter Carnival

Circular image of a student at a medieval ball, wearing a pointed hat

Medieval ball

Itty Bitty: Tiny Texts in Special Collections
Fall 2021

Hands holding a miniature book against a blue background

The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Glasgow, Scotland, 1895

At 18mm, the New Testament is the smallest book in Special Collections. Published by David Bryce and Son, it comes in a metal locket case, complete with a built-in magnifying glass.

Held by Katie van der Merwe ‘22

Photograph of hand holding tiny Qur'an against a red background.

Qur’an (القرآن)
Turkey [?], early 1900s

This hexagonal Qur’an features nine lines of handwritten text on each page.  The opening pages feature hand-drawn color illustrations. Surah - or chapter - headings are written in red ink, while the primary text is written in black.

Held by Abed Abbas ‘24

Hands holding a tiny Qur'an open against a blue background

Qur’an (القرآن)
Islamic year 1100, corresponding to the year 1689

The calligrapher of this handwritten Qur’an is noted as “Sulaiman Abu […] son of Omar the Preacher.” The opening and closing pages are decorated with red and gold. While not a complete copy, this Qur’an includes a few choice Surah, or chapters. 

Held by Abed Abbas ‘24

Hand holding tiny copy of Dialoghi against a yellow background.

Dialoghi by Giacomo Leopardi. Florence, Italy, 1943

A dollhouse miniature, Dialoghi is bound in sheepskin leather with a gilt (gold) title on the cover. The doll that owned this book certainly read Italian poetry, as this volume contains three poetic dialogues.

Held by Bailey Sneed ‘22

Under the Covers: The Hidden Art of Endpapers
Spring 2020

Circular image of blue marbled endpapers

Marbled endpapers

Circular image of pink marbled endpapers

Marbled endpapers

Fall 2019

Black and white photograph of Erica Wonnacott

Erica Wonnacott, Dean of Students

Erica Wonnacott worked at Middlebury College from 1968 to 1988. During her first two years at the college, she served as Assistant Dean of Women under Elizabeth Kelly and subsequently assumed the position of Dean of Students, a role in which she worked closely with the student body until her retirement. 


Spring 2019

Sepita-toned photograph of Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman, poet
(1819, New York – 1892 Camden, New Jersey)

During his long life, Whitman was a hand-press printer, a teacher, an abolitionist, a journalist, a poet, a Civil War hospital volunteer nurse, a government clerk, and a lover of sunbathing in the nude. Special Collections has two copies of the 1855 first edition of Leaves of Grass, self-published and printed by Whitman. According to the American Academy of Poets, “Along with Emily Dickinson, he is considered one of America’s most important poets.” We agree. Happy 200th birthday, Walt.

Summer 2018

Black and white portrait of Marjorie Lamberti

Marjorie Lamberti, Professor of History

Marjorie Lamberti began teaching at Middlebury in 1962 and became the second woman at Middlebury to be appointed to full professor and the first to receive tenure. Devoting almost four decades to teaching German history and the history of European Jewry, while establishing herself as a distinguished scholar, her commitment to teaching and dedication to her students led to the foundation of the Marjorie Lamberti Faculty Appreciation Award.

Black and white portrait of Robert Frost

Robert Frost, poet
(1874, San Francisco – 1963 Boston, Mass.)

From 1921 to 1962, the famous American poet spent almost every summer and fall teaching at Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English. His summer cabin in Ripton, Vermont remains intact, with items from his home on permanent display in Special Collections.

Black and white portrait of Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson, poet
(1830, Amherst, Mass. – 1886, Amherst, Mass.)

With only ten poems published during her lifetime, Emily Dickinson’s 2,500 manuscripts are the lifeblood of her work. Abernethy Curator Viola White’s purchase of an Emily Dickinson poem in February 1938 represents just one of her historic contributions to the Abernethy Collection of American Literature.

Summer 2017

Sepia-toned portrait of Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau, essayist, poet, philosopher
(1817, Concord, Mass. -1862, Concord, Mass.)

We created this button in honor of Thoreau’s 200th birthday, and to promote Special Collections’ hundreds of Thoreauvian holdings. Of these is among the most valuable items owned by Middlebury, Henry David Thoreau’s personal copy of Walden with his hand-written notes, acquired by Middlebury Abernethy Library Curator Viola White in 1939.

Spring 2016

Blue portrait of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare, playwright and poet

In February 2016, Middlebury College hosted the book that brought us Shakespeare, the First Folio, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Fall 2015

Black and white photograph of Perley Voter

Perley Voter, Chairman of the Chemistry department

Perley Voter received his master’s and Ph.D. at Harvard before joining the Middlebury faculty in 1912. A scientist and skier, Perley Voter taught Chemistry at Middlebury for over forty years and contributed to the construction of a 27-meter ski jump on Chipman Hill for the first annual Winter Carnival in 1943.

Sepia-toned portrait of a young Eleanor Sybil Ross

Eleanor Sybil Ross, Class of 1895 

After graduating from Middlebury in 1895, Eleanor Sybil Ross taught at high schools across the country from her native Rutland, Vermont to Pennsylvania and Idaho. Twenty years later, she returned to Middlebury at the request of President Thomas to serve as Dean of Women for thirty years. Here see young Eleanor as a student (Dean Ross above).

Sepia-toned portrait of Harvey Denison Kitchel

Harvey Denison Kitchel, Class of 1835 

Harvey Denison Kitchel became Middlebury’s fifth president in 1866 and was the first alumnus to hold the office. Although he had a reputation for being an outstanding student and preacher, his lack of fundraising abilities rendered him an inefficient president. Unfortunately, not even his marvelous facial hair could not protect him from the faculty’s scrutiny, and he stepped down in 1873.

Black and white portrait of Doc Reginald Cook

Doc Reginald Cook, Class of 1924 

Doc Cook earned his BA from Middlebury in 1924 and his master’s degree from Bread Loaf in 1926 before attending Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. Upon his return to the U.S., Middlebury’s President Moody (from 1921-1942) persuaded him to join what was probably the first separate department of American literature established at an American college or university. He was a wildly popular professor and directed the Bread Loaf School of English from 1946-1964.

Spring 2015

Sepia toned portrait of Julian W. Abernethy

Julian W. Abernethy, Class of 1876

A distinguished teacher and scholar of American and British literature, Abernethy was an avid bibliophile and during his lifetime amassed an extraordinary collection of books and original manuscripts by American authors. When he died in 1923, he donated his library to Middlebury College.

Black and white photograph of Eleanor Sybil Ross

Eleanor Sybil Ross, Class of 1895 and Dean of Women

Eleanor Sybil Ross was Dean of Women for nearly 30 years. She was integral in doubling the size of the Women’s College of Middlebury and was remembered for the strict discipline that she insisted upon for Middlebury women. 

Sepia-toned photograph of Lilian Stroebe

Lilian Stroebe, founder of the German Summer School

Lilian Stroebe was founder of the German Summer School in 1915 and its Director from 1915-1917. She was a professor of German at Vassar College from 1905-1943. For its first six-week summer session, tuition in the German School was $30 for the summer. Board and room at the college was an additional $8 a week.

Fall 2014

Black and white photograph of Ezra Brainerd

Ezra Brainerd, Class of 1864

Brainerd, born in St. Albans, Vermont, was a College alum, the College’s eighth president (1885-1908), and a prominent geologist and botanist with a lifelong enthusiasm for violets. (To boot, his extravagant sideburns rank him in the Top Ten List of Celebrated Middlebury Beards.)

Sepia-toned photograph of Aldace Freeman Walker

Aldace Freeman Walker, Class 1862

Born in Rutland, Vermont, Walker was class valedictorian. Famously, he delivered his valedictory address in Civil War military uniform before leaving for the front. Following his Civil War service, Walker practiced law in New York City and returned to Vermont in 1873 to serve as a State Senator from 1884-1885.

Sepia-toned photograph of Martin Henry Freeman

Martin Henry Freeman, Class of 1849

Born in Rutland, Vermont, Freeman would go on to be the nation’s first African-American college professor (at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania) and later a professor and president of Liberia College in the African-American colony in Monrovia, Liberia in Africa.  Read this 2016 blog post about Martin Henry Freeman, written by Associate Professor of History, William Hart.

Sepia-toned photograph of May Belle Chellis

May Belle Chellis, Class of 1886

After transferring to Middlebury as a sophomore from Mount Holyoke College, May Belle Chellis finished first in her class. During her years as a Middlebury student, she boarded in the home of her classmate Anna Bolton, a farmhouse now known as the Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest.

Old photograph of Mary Annette Anderson

Mary Annette Anderson, Class of 1899

The first woman of color to graduate from the College, Mary Annette Anderson was born in Shoreham, Vermont. Finishing first in her class, she was class valedictorian and is thought to be the first African American woman elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society in the United States. Read this 2016 blog post about Mary Annette Anderson, written by Associate Professor of History, William Hart.