Why use our collections?

The Lear Center offers a unique opportunity on campus for students to have exposure to rare books, archives, and cultural heritage items. Through the use of our collections, students learn the basic skills necessary for researching primary source materials. We have collections in many subject areas, with particular strengths in the following fields:


English and American literature

Early Modern European literature

American History
Environmental Studies
Women's Studies
Book Arts and the history of printing
Children's literature and illustration
History and Architecture of Connecticut College and New London


Class Instruction

The Lear Center encourages faculty to schedule class sessions in the Palmer Room. Classes are led by staff knowledgeable in best practices for archival research and preservation.  We can provide a brief introduction to Special Collections and Archives or conduct entire class sessions, depending on the wishes of the instructor. We pull items from our collections to connect to your class content which serves to enrich student learning.

Faculty who wish to make use of our collections during the semester should contact Lear Center staff to discuss the possibility of having their class(es) meet in the Palmer Room. Please provide us with at least two weeks' advance notice when arranging a class session in the Center. This allows us to ensure that the items you need are available and that we are prepared to arrange and introduce the materials. 

In the past, Lear Center collections have been used in approximately 60 class session per year from the following departments: Anthropology, Art, Art History and Architectural Studies, Classics, Dance, East Asian Studies, Education, English, French, Gender and Women's Studies, History, Italian, Music, Slavic Studies, and Theater. The department has ample resources for most course offerings in the humanities and social sciences. Class sessions have ranged from general introductions to primary sources in a field to specific topical presentations to project-based instruction in the use of primary sources in research. Lear Center staff are happy to discuss class projects and potential research topics using our collections.