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Building Bowdoin’s distinctive collections

Audubon’s Birds of America; the personal papers of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and Senator George J. Mitchell; Nathaniel Hawthorne’s library: all of these treasured holdings have come to the College as gifts.

Donors have been instrumental in enriching the distinguished research collections at Bowdoin from the beginning, before there was even a campus to house them, and the bequest in 1811 of College founder James Bowdoin’s library formed the nucleus for what has become Bowdoin College’s rare book collection.

Gifts of books, family papers and business records, photographs, and College memorabilia—and cash gifts, bequests, memorials, and established endowments—have been crucial in assembling the superlative primary sources and rare materials that further the College’s mission of teaching and learning. Access to these scholarly treasurers is a defining feature of the Bowdoin student experience and a draw for researchers from Maine, nationally, and throughout the world.

Donating rare books, manuscripts, and other gifts in kind

Special Collections & Archives relies on your support to grow its collections and to document our shared past.  Our department director welcomes the opportunity to speak with individuals and organizations who are interested in entrusting their rare books, manuscripts, College artifacts, and related research materials to our care. Such giving insures the enduring preservation of those cherished items and allows for their widest possible use under safe and secure surroundings. It can also provide the opportunity to honor or memorialize family or friends. The College has prepared a "Guide to Gifts of Property" that provides further details about the process and advantages of giving in-kind.  Special Collections has also prepared a list of particular titles/volumes it is presently seeking.

Making cash gifts

Cash gifts, bequests, and endowments enable Special Collections & Archives to acquire and preserve materials that are essential for sustaining Bowdoin’s curriculum, and they provide donors with a tangible means to express either their commitment to the College’s mission or an affection or remembrance of a personal nature. Donors can make a gift online, or are invited to contact the department director or the Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations in Bowdoin’s Development Office to explore the advantages and opportunities that such a gift can provide.