Washington College has a long history of collecting and preserving primary resource materials. It was the first college founded in the newly formed United States, the first college in Maryland, and the country’s tenth oldest institution of higher learning.
Unfortunately, the campus has suffered two devastating fires; the first occurred in 1827, in which most of the college records were destroyed, and the second occurred in 1916 in William Smith Hall, which at the time housed everything central to running the campus. In the second fire, the college lost science and lab equipment, files, pictures, and over 4,000 volumes in the William Smith Hall library. Because of these fires, the majority of the records in the archives date from 1918. An interesting note: After the second fire, the presidents of Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, and Yale University donated duplicate copies of their library holdings to the college.
Today, undergraduate students are using the College Archives for various research projects.