You are here



PHOTO: FRANK WOJCIECHOWSKI Reviewing 18th- and 19th-century faculty minutes in Mudd Library are, from left, Janie Lee ’15, Micheal Gunter ’14, Professor Martha Sandweiss, and Thatcher Foster ’14.

Special Collections offers multiple classroom and virtual instructional services in support of the University's mission to advance learning through scholarship, research, and teaching. Whether in a one-time class session or a term-long course held in Special Collections, the Library welcomes and encourages the use of the collections to enhance learning experiences.

Please note: Face coverings are welcome but not required in the classroom unless requested by the instructor. 


The Special Collections instruction program centers on teaching primary source literacy -- the experience and interpretation of original historical documents in context. The resources in Princeton University Library's Special Collections encompass rare books, manuscripts, children’s books, and graphic arts, among many other topics. Supported by the Teach with Collections project, Special Collections hosts more than 250 classes every year across the disciplines. The Teach with Collections project works in collaboration with campus partners including the Art Museum, Marquand Library, and the McGraw Center to increase use and accessibility to all of Princeton’s unique collections.

Our instruction staff provide these services:

  • Accessible, effective, and equitable instruction to all users, online or in person, both within and outside of the Princeton community,
  • Teaching and leading instruction sessions on conducting archival research and primary source literacy;
  • Introducing historical physical formats, including manuscript and printed book production, emphasizing their relationships to researchable subjects in book history;
  • Helping faculty design online and/or on-site courses around collections; developing course assignments;
  • Curating selections of materials that can be accessed in the library or online; connecting with Digital Humanities initiatives.


The Special Collections instruction staff strive to craft positive educational experiences with archival materials using principles that drive collections-based instruction, goal-oriented, backward design, and active learning techniques. To facilitate effective instruction, staff collaborate and customize to your course topic using AGILE instructional design. Participants will experience formative assessment in advance of, during, and after the session. Our Teach with Collections website has a wide set of examples of past courses, collection materials, and instruction tools. 


Contact us to Schedule a Class, to discuss your needs, and to brainstorm ideas. We look forward to exploring the possibilities with you!