How To Do Research

You can access the Special Collections by visiting the Heller Rare Book Room at the F. W. Olin Library. View the list of materials in our collections or browse the library’s online catalog, with the Heller Room designation.

For manuscript and archival collections, there are in-house inventories and finding aids. Please come to Special Collections or contact us for assistance. A few of these finding aids are available on the Internet. More will become available soon. Some archival materials are also cataloged in the library’s online catalog. Refer to the specific collection descriptions to see how they are cataloged or indexed.

For materials pertaining to the history of Mills College, the Mills Index is a useful starting point. This card file, located in front of the reference offices, gives basic facts about the College and indexes official college publications such as AtMills and the Mills Quarterly so you can quickly retrieve articles about Mills. Separate sections list faculty and alumnae publications. Most of the materials (photographs, newspaper clippings, programs or public events, and miscellaneous papers that document college history) are stored in the Mills College Collection in Special Collections. Some are kept in the open (circulating) stacks. Ask Reference or Special Collections staff for help.

Special Collections contains both primary and secondary sources. A primary source is the subject of your inquiry, while a secondary source is a critical or historical source on your subject. An author or subject search in the library’s online catalog may lead you to Special Collections. Other approaches are through literature searches, class visits, tours, or because you heard someone mention that we owned a certain item.