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Archives & Special Collections: Special Collections

Guide to Washington College Archives & Special Collections


The special collection at the college houses over 4,000 unique and rare books varying in age, size, and scope. Collection areas include books on George Washington and early American democracy, Maryland authors including Douglass Wallop and James M. Cain, small press poetry, philosophy and logic, and descriptive travel books from the late 18th to the early 20th Century. The College has been the fortunate recipient of libraries from several donors.

Special Collections

The Maryland Collection at Washington College includes books open to the public, in the rare collection, the Maryland Reference collection, and the Washington College collection. One of the largest print collections at the college, the Maryland Collection seeks to give students and researchers a full view of Maryland. This collection specifically concentrates on Kent and Queen Anne's counties as well as the upper Eastern Shore, the individuals that have called it home, or have a connection to the College, and it also provides genealogical materials and vital records. Stop by and take a look at the materials on your next visit to Chestertown.

If you are keen on researching the Chesapeake Bay you can also try these resources:

On the Eastern Shore

Chesapeake Heartland

Delaware State University: Archives & Special Collections 
Salisbury University:
The Nabb Research Center 
University of Maryland, Eastern Shore:
Special Collections and University Archives

On the Western Shore 


Notre Dame of Maryland University & Loyola University Maryland: Special Collections
Maryland Historical Society: 
Library, Archives & Museum
University of Maryland, Baltimore County: 
Special Collections
University of Maryland, College Park:
Special Collections & University Archives

For online research of other special collections, check out the Digital Maryland site:

For More Information 

We are always interested in adding to our collections. If you have items on the history of Maryland including various county, state, town, city, or neighborhoods, please contact us and we can discuss options for donating materials. 

Dr. Alan Pasch was a professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland, College Park and served as the first Executive Secretary of the American Philosophical Association. In 2008, he donated his collection of rare and unique materials on philosophy and logic to Washington College. The collection includes rare editions by such thinkers as Thomas Hobbes, Henry Aldrich, Isaac Watts, Noah Webster, Lewis Carroll, George Boole, and others. The oldest book from Dr. Pasch’s donation is a theology book, Declaratione Difficilium Terminorum Tam Theologie Philisophie Ac Logice, written in Latin and published in 1491. This book, one of the more than 100 in the collection published before 1900, was hand-stitched and bound in leather.  Dr. Pasch was an important voice on the American philosophical scene. His Experience and the Analytic: A Reconsideration of Empiricism was published in 1958 in the midst of what was described as a series of “fratricidal quarrels” among philosophers.

Image from the 2008 Pegasus


A successful author, Sophie Kerr published over 500 short stories, 23 novels, countless magazine articles, and a play that ran on Broadway and was later made into the film, 1934's Big Hearted Herbert.  She willed Washington College over half a million dollars, which has provided for the well-known annual Sophie Kerr Prize. The executor of Kerr’s estate, Mary Elizabeth Taylor, left some of Kerr’s possessions to Washington College in her own will, and they are now part of Special Collections at Washington College. The collection includes books that belonged to Sophie Kerr, as well as books and articles she wrote. If you would like to use the Sophie Kerr collection, please contact the archivist for details. 


Beginning in 1976, Delario gave several volumes per year from his personal collection, which was considered “one of the better collections of magic books in the country.” The collection includes over 400 volumes, many of them on the history and techniques of magic and sleight of hand. Delario was a radiologist and had been an amateur magician since the 1930s. To honor the wishes of the donor and the code of secrecy among magicians, a letter of purpose must be submitted to the archivist for approval to research in this collection.


A poet and teacher, Reese became the Poet Laureate of Maryland in 1931. John Danz gifted nearly 70 volumes of her personal library to Washington College. Texts include books from her childhood and gifts from family members, annotations to her own published poems, and signed works by her contemporaries. This collection provides insight into Poetry in the early 20th century.