Vassar's rare book collections are extensive and diverse. They date from the fifteenth century (the age of incunabula) to the present. Notable examples include books important in women's history, first editions of English and American literary and historical works, examples of fine printing, collections of courtesy and cookbooks, children's books, and rare maps and atlases.
The Virginia B. Smith Memorial Manuscript Collection is named after the eighth president of Vassar College, whose vision for the library included the addition of personal papers of a number of key literary figures. The holdings range from medieval illuminated manuscripts to modern manuscripts, and include over 500 collections of Vassar College graduates, faculty, and others affiliated with the college. Of special note are the papers of writers Mary McCarthy and Elizabeth Bishop, Samuel L. Clemens, and Edna St. Vincent Millay; early naturalist John Burroughs, historian Lucy Maynard Salmon, feminist and historian Alma Lutz, astronomer Maria Mitchell, anthropologist Ruth Benedict, and physicist Albert Einstein.
The Vassar College Archives documents the history of the College from its founding in 1861 to the present. It includes publications, administrative records, meeting minutes, architectural drawings, photograph and audiovisual collections, subject files, artifacts, and other materials.