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Special Collections at Milne Library

Genesee Valley Historical Collection

Geneseo Main and Park Avenue Historical photo

The Genesee Valley Historical Collection is Milne Library's largest and most accessible collection of local history materials.  Its geographical scope covers the eight counties surrounding the Genesee River in New York State:  Allegany, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Steuben, and Wyoming.

The collection includes about 6,000 volumes, maps, atlases, video and sound recordings, pamphlets and ephemera, most of which can be browsed and accessed directly by users, plus some maps and rare primary source materials which are kept locked when not in use.  Some of the richest and most heavily-used materials, including local newspapers and detailed U.S. census information, are on microfilm.

Select titles from the collection are also available for purchase or online viewing through Milne Library's Genesee Valley Reprint Series.

Portions of the collection are continually being added to the New York Heritage digital repository including:Covered Bridge photo from Genesee Valley Historical Collection

See the Local History subject guide for more sources and help in researching local history topics.

Access:  Open Stacks (Milne 115G)
Main finding aid:  GLOCAT
Hours:  Library hours
Borrowing:  Some items circulate, some are in-house use only


College Archives Collection Yearbook Photo from Special Collections College Archives

The College Archives Collection contains a variety of materials produced by SUNY Geneseo departments, offices, organizations, faculty, students, and alumni. Among these are faculty publications, books published by alumni and students, yearbooks, the Lamron (student newspaper), ENCompass (college newspaper), departmental and alumni newsletters, photographs, annual reports, undergraduate and graduate bulletins, theses (master's, senior, and honor), and other primary and secondary source materials.

Because this is a closed collection, a librarian will retrieve requested materials for in-house use only. For help with research related to the collection, ask for or contact the Special Collections Librarian.

Here are some excellent books on the history of SUNY Geneseo:

Access:  Restricted
Main finding aid:  GLOCAT
Hours:  Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
Borrowing:  In-house use only


Wadsworth Family PapersWadsworth Coat of Arms from Special Collections Archives

The Wadsworth Collections concern the first and continued settlement of land in the Genesee region known as the Phelps and Gorham Purchase.  The collections consist of approximately 50,000 items from the land offices of the two branches of the Wadsworth family of Geneseo and cover the years 1790 to about 1950, with most dating from the 19th century. Business correspondence and ledgers, vouchers, deeds, maps and other business-related materials make up most of the collections.  Milne's collection does not include official papers from the terms of Congressman James W. Wadsworth (1846-1926) or U.S. Senator James. W. Wadsworth, Jr. (1877-1952). The Library of Congress is home to The James Wadsworth Family Papers, a collection of personal and business materials which includes a large portion dealing with the Senator.

Martha Blow Wadsworth Photographs

A subcollection of the Wadsworth Family Papers, this includes thirty-three albums, and approximately 350 glass lantern slides, of Martha Blow Wadsworth Family Papers from the Special Collections Archivephotographs taken by Martha Blow Wadsworth (1864-1934) between 1890 and World War I. Many of the photographs depict family, friends, and scenes of the Genesee Valley, but some chronicle trips taken within the United States and to Alaska, Europe, and Panama during the time of the canal's construction.

A selection of the photographs can be found in the New York Heritage digital repository.

Access:  Restricted
Main finding aids:  Overview and Selective index
Hours:  Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. (appointments recommended)
Borrowing:  In-house use only


Carl Schmidt Collection in Historic ArchitectureCarl Schmidt photo from Special Collections Archive

Carl F. Schmidt (1894-1988) was a local architect who had a keen interest in historic preservation and conservation. The Schmidt Collection includes notes, manuscripts, slides, photographs, pencil sketches and measured drawings created and collected by Schmidt in preparing his many books on historical architecture, which focus primarily on homes in the Genesee Valley area. Copies of Schmidt's books are available in Milne Library's Genesee Valley Historical Collection and should be used as a starting point for all research.

A collection of Schmidt's pencil drawings of regional homes, especially entrance doors, can be found in the New York Heritage digital repository.

Access:  Restricted
Main finding aids:  Inventory
Hours:  Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. (appointments recommended)
Borrowing:  In-house use only


Walter Harding CollectionWalter Harding photo from Special Collections Archive

The Walter Harding Collection consists primarily of Harding's writings about Henry David Thoreau and transcendentalism. Harding, a member of SUNY Geneseo's English faculty from 1956 until his retirement in 1983, was one of the 20th century's most prominent Thoreau scholars. Most of the materials in this collection are housed in either the College Archives or the "X" Special Collection, as indicated in both GLOCAT and the Bibliography.

Access:  Restricted
Main finding aid:  Walter Harding Bibliography
Hours:  Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
Borrowing:  In-house use (except for items in circulating stacks)


"X" Special CollectionRare Books from Special Collections Archive

The "X" Special Collection consists mainly of rare books held by Milne, plus books that are extremely fragile and/or valuable. It also includes an extensive collection of writings by and about Aldous Huxley and portions of the Walter Harding Collection. (The "X" Special Collection is so called because all of the call numbers within it are preceded by an "X.")

Access:  Restricted
Finding aid:  GLOCAT
Hours:  Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
Borrowing:  In-house use only