Special and Digital Collections

Special and Digital Collections 

We look forward to meeting the needs of our Teachers College community, as well as wider-affiliates and other researchers, by servicing historical research queries, while strengthening archival collections that support the mission of the College, its academic departments and programs; centers, institutes, programs, and projects; students; alumni; faculty and emeriti; art; administration; and much more. 

Teachers College was founded in 1887, and in 1898 established its affiliation with Columbia University, under which it became the Education Faculty of the University.  Highly influential leaders included: Grace Hoadley Dodge, creator of the Kitchen Garden Association (later known as the Industrial Education Association), philanthropist, and also the first female appointee of the New York Board of Education; and James Earl Russell,  Dean, Dean Emeritus, and Trustee who developed Teachers College into the nation's leader in the advanced training of elementary and secondary school teachers, administrators, and supervisors.

With education writ large, and the need to empower committed learners and leaders to build a smarter, healthier, more just and equitable world, we present the special and digital collections; these unique resources inform study and research into the history and development of our institution while exemplifying how and why true change begins.

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Teachers College Special Collections

The Teachers College Special Collections provides a broad range of unique resources for the study of education, through its archives, manuscripts, and rare books that are physically integrated into areas of collecting strength: research, curriculum, juvenile, and Teachers Collegiana; their breadth and depth reflect the historic commitment of Teachers College to advanced study in education, broadly defined, in its local, national, and international dimensions. 

Examples include European, English, and American writings on education of the 15th through 19th centuries; the Harvey-Darton Collection of pre-1850 English children's literature, with unique items from the leading early-nineteenth century English publisher of children's books; English and American pre-1900 children's books, such as the Annie Moore Collection of illustrated books; the Nutting Collection of writings on the history of nursing, a major resource for both nursing history and women's history; American schoolbooks of the 18th and 19th centuries; international cookery books; historical testing materials; catalogs and publications of independent schools throughout the United States; 19th and 20th century elementary and secondary international textbooks and works on theory, methods, and institutions of education, including extensive collections of German, Russian, and Japanese materials; 19th and 20th century monographs, pamphlets, and serials, including broad coverage of publications of national, state and local education departments, colleges and universities, and professional organizations.


Teachers College Digital Collections

The Teachers College Digital Collections feature distinctive holdings that represent institutional history and scholarship in education, psychology, and the health professions. It comprises the historical records of Teachers College and publications or works in all formats by our faculty, students, and staff. The collection offers researchers the opportunity to explore selections of digitized material from the Teachers College Special Collections. 

Examples include papers of deans, presidents, faculty, and academic departments; records of the experimental and demonstration schools; records of College’s institutes and offices; records for major national and international projects in which Teachers College participated; historical photographs of Teachers College and its members; children’s artwork and additional art collections in a variety of mediums; dissertations and masters’ theses; and annual reports, catalogs, and yearbooks. These archival collections are organized into several broad groups: Administration; Centers, Institutes, and Programs; Academic Departments; Faculty; Students; Alumni; Teachers Collegiana (TCANA); and Miscellaneous, and contain various subgroups and related groupings.


The Special and Digital Collections aim to:

  • Curate and preserve College records, information, and resources of current research and permanent historical value
  • Provide bibliographic and digital access of the highest professional standard, while integrating distinctive and special holdings with the entirety of Gottesman Libraries collections that are searchable in EDUCAT+, our catalog of record
  • Process individual collections to enhance the opportunity of discoverability and access, including links to electronic finding aids for detailed description and organization 
  • Engage the Teachers College community in the discussion and production of scholarly work 
  • Model an educational resource for wider historical scholarship 


Researchers are advised to begin their work by searching for relevant materials through EDUCAT+ and to facet their searches for optimal results.  Historical materials are searchable via both facets and scopes in EDUCAT+, where digitized works are also viewable and/or downloadable. 



The Library provides consultations, instructional offerings, and workshops for students, faculty, and staff. We accept historical research queries via a support ticket or in person at the Library Services Desk. 

We maintain a Special Collections Reading Room, located in Russell 104, to assist researchers with onsite use of non circulating, historical material. Reservations are generated by library staff after retrieval of paged material from the closed stacks, and they are generally made for weekdays between the hours of 10am-4pm.

We service ADA accommodations for digital material, including, but not limited to, OCR, transcription, captioned media, and alternative text for images, as well as accommodations for visitation to the Gottesman Libraries in Russell Hall. Requests for accommodations of digitized materials link to catalog records in EDUCAT+, or may be submitted via application, and one of our staff members will follow up. 

Library staff coordinate with members of the College on assessing and accepting donations to the Special and Digital Collections in accordance with the Gottesman Libraries collecting scope and policy. Reach out to us via online support and we will arrange to meet with you.

If you are not affiliated with Teachers College and would like additional access beyond viewing privileges, such as downloading and saving, please fill out the digital collections user application.  

Ongoing Development

While digitization promotes preservation and access, the large volume of material requires a multi-year effort involving considerable staff attention and resources.

The library improves and enhances Teachers College Digital Collections by continued refinement of bibliographic records and the introduction of electronic finding aids, as well as strategic assessment of additional digitization efforts to either introduce new collections, or add previously unavailable material in digitized formats. 

Additionally, aligning with the mission and values of Gottesman Libraries and Teachers College Accessibility First, we are dedicated to providing accessibility accommodation when requested. In collaboration with OASID, Gottesman Libraries is developing a long-term plan to raise the standard of accessibility for all of our digital collections. For related information see our Accessibility Statement.


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