Elizabeth Myers Tells Her Story

PHOTO COURTESY OF SMITH.EDU  Smith has the largest special collections archives amongst the country’s liberal arts colleges.

PHOTO COURTESY OF SMITH.EDU

Smith has the largest special collections archives amongst the country’s liberal arts colleges.

Somto Okonkwo ’21

In August, Elizabeth Myers, director of Special Collections at Smith, was a featured storyteller for “A Finding Aid to My Soul: An Archivist Storytelling Event,” sponsored by the Society of American Archivists’ Committee on Public Awareness.

Myers told “a tragic love story set amongst the Communist Party and World War II.”

In a Sept. 17 interview, Myers shined light on the Smith College Archives and Special Collections. As the director, she wanted more people to know about Smith’s Special Collections, which covers almost any topic imaginable.

“Smith’s Special Collections has a total of 23 staff [members], which is the largest special collections staff at any liberal arts college in the United States.” The implication is that undergraduates, as well as visitors, are fully supported in their endeavours, whether research, projects or learning.

Myers talked about the subdivisions of Smith’s Special Collections, which are: the college archives, the Mortimer Rare Book Collection (which contains a widely comprehensive teaching collection going back to 200 BC and up to contemporary documentaries) and the Sophia Smith Collection, the oldest collection of women’s history in the world (found in 1942).

Among the Smith collection for Women’s History is the collection of the famous Gloria Steinem ’56 and Actress Jane Fonda. More information can be found on Smith Special Collections website.

During her interview, Myers was asked how Smith amasses such a large collection for a wide variety of things, and she said, “Bringing in collection is about relationships, networking and building trusts.” Faculty members contribute to the collections, alumnae and students make donations and give gifts and purchases are also made.

Myers was an undergraduate at Northern Illinois University on a path to become a traditional historian. Getting her Master’s Degree at Loyola University, she realized that she wanted to go into Labor Archives.

Myers's passion for special collections drives her to work with the Sophian to promote research at Smith Archives and Special Collections. She not only is confident in Smith’s collections but assures the capability of the Special Collection staff to give maximum assistance.

There is power in storytelling. Myers definitely felt this power when she encountered Molly West’s collection at Loyola University. She mentioned, “When I processed Molly West’s paper, I fell in love with her.” The shivers Myers felt coming in contact with West’s letters can definitely be felt at Smith’s Special Collections, and like she said, “Smith has it all.”