Students in the former Lafayette Street Library
Salem State University Archives and Special Collections preserves and provides access to materials that are rare, unique, or historical. The collections are housed in a 5,000 sq ft secure and climate-controlled facility on the ground floor of Frederick E. Berry Library.
The collection includes thousands of books, documents, manuscripts, maps, photographs, audiovisual material, artifacts, and ephemera. These items cover topics such as the history of Salem State University and its predecessor institutions, the history of the City of Salem, and Essex County politics.
The university began as the Salem Normal School in 1854; it was established as part of Horace Mann’s effort to train teachers for the public schools. These schools were the first public institutions in the country with that mission. The Salem Normal School became Salem Teachers College in 1932 and Salem State College in 1960. The college became Salem State University in 2010.
The Archives collects materials that document Salem's history from all eras, but collections are focused on the 19th-century to the present. We have - and seek to acquire - records of organizations, the personal papers of individuals or families, and photographs, stereoviews, postcards, advertising cards, books, and ephemera. A few of the collections we house are the Nelson Dionne Collection, the Salem Savings Bank Archives, and the Salem Woman’s Friend Society Records. Documenting Salem’s rich history is one of our highest priorities.
Historic Geography and Map Collection
The archives holds a large collection of historic maps with a focus on the New England region. We also collect books and printed materials, especially items related to the growth and development of Boston and the North Shore.
North Shore Political Collections
We hold the collections and papers of several U.S. Congressmen from the 6th District, including Representatives Michael J. Harrington, George J. Bates, and William H. Bates. We also house the papers of other local political figures and organizations that seek to affect public policy.