The Library’s special collections are housed in the Constance V. R. Dexter Special Collections Room. The materials housed inside the Constance V. R. Dexter Special Collections Room are generally available Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 4:15 PM to 6:00 PM or by appointment. Patrons may also contact the Library by email at Emails are addressed in the order they are received by the Special Collection staff, typically within two weeks.

Rare Books:

The Rare Book Collection consists primarily of printed books, but also includes newspapers, periodicals, pamphlets, broadsides, proof sheets, and other special forms of publication. Strengths of the Library’s Rare Book Collection include:

  • Volumes that reflect the history of libraries or of book collecting in the Town of Lancaster.
  • New England imprints, particularly Massachusetts imprints, up to the mid-nineteenth century.
  • Volumes produced by European printers and/or publishers important in the history of the book, whether significant in the history of printing, publishing, typography, book illustration, or some other aspect of bookmaking or the book-trade.
  • Illustrated works in botany, horticulture, gardening, and natural history, through the 19th century.
  • Sermons and other religious works, American and English, up to the mid-nineteenth century.
  • Historical writings of all descriptions, up to the mid-nineteenth century, with special emphasis on American history.

Lancaster Collection:

The Lancaster Collection of the Thayer Memorial Library is a comprehensive repository of material documenting the history of Lancaster and the activities of its inhabitants. Items in the collection shed light mainly on the history of the geographical area presently defined as Lancaster, although any material considered valuable in understanding the development of the Town, as it exists, may be included.

Lancaster Manuscript Collection:

The Manuscript Collection is part of the of the Library’s Lancaster Collection. As such, works included in the Library’s Manuscript Collection must be a manuscript (original or copy), a typescript (original or copy), a printed form with manuscript or typed additions, or any other printed item, scrapbook, or album that contains significant handwritten or typed annotations. The Manuscript Collection includes:

  • Records of various administrative offices or special committees of the Town (including the Town Library).
  • Records of the various public school districts and of private schools within Lancaster.
  • Church records.
  • Books, theses, research papers, articles, addresses, lectures, and creative works about Lancaster and Lancastrians (all in pre–or unpublished form).
  • Any type of manuscript or typescript work by a Lancaster author of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, translations, plays, music, etc.).
  • Account books kept by individual merchants and account books and more extensive records kept by larger businesses in the area.
  • Military records, commissions, and other documents issued by governmental authorities beyond the Town that reflect the activities of its residents.
  • Diaries, keepsake albums, and autograph books kept by Lancaster residents.
  • Records of various private organizations and clubs in Lancaster.
  • Memorabilia of prominent Lancaster families (for example, the guest register of the Thayer’s’ Homestead).
  • Deeds, wills, and estate inventories of Lancaster residents.
  • Genealogical materials in manuscript or typescript form.

John C. L. Clark Botanical Collection:

The core of the John C. L. Clark Botanical Collection came to the Thayer Memorial Library in 1983. Presented by the Reverend Hugh Savage Clark in memory of his father, John Calvin Lawrence Clark, the gift consists of more than one hundred volumes gathered together by Rev. Clark over the course of his life-long interest in botany and horticulture.