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Thomas Randolph Adams papers

Identifier: MC-367

Scope and Contents

The Thomas Randolph Adams papers consist of correspondence over the course of Adams' career as a rare book librarian. The correspondence includes letters to and from Rex D. Parady, Assitant to the Chapin Library, regarding Chapin Library and their friendship which continued on after Adams left in 1957 to become the Librarian of The John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. Much of the correspondence is between Adams and long time friend John E. Alden, a Williams Class of 1935 graduate and prominent bibliographer. They discuss their careers and friendship up until Alden's death in October 1991. Some of the correspondece is related to Alden's death as Adams was appointed his power of attorney in 1989. The papers date from 1948-1993.


  • 1948 - 1993


Conditions Governing Access

The Thomas Randolph Adams papers is open for research. Researchers are encouraged to contact Special Collections staff prior to a visit.

Conditions Governing Use

In consultation with Special Collections staff, reproductions may be made upon request. Material in this collection may be subject to copyright.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Randolph Adams was born on May 22, 1921 in Durham, North Carolina. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1944, presumably it was at the University of Michigan where he crossed paths with John E. Alden, who would become a renouned bibliographer and lifelong friend of Adams. Adams went on to become the Custodian of the Chapin Library of Rare Books at Williams from 1955-1957. He left Williams for Brown University where he was appointed Librarian of The John Carter Brown Library in 1957 until his retirement in 1983, though he continued teaching at Brown until 1991. Alden eventually joined him there in 1976, as the bibliographer. Adams married Virginia Matzke Adams in 1951. Viginia, known as Po, was head of special collections at the Providence Public Library and then the first Librarian at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. In 1989, Adams was appointed as Alden's power of attorney, managing his dear friend's estate when Alden passed away in Oct. 1991. Adams passed away in 2008 and Virginia in 2021.


.209 Linear Feet (1 half manuscript box letter)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Library Shelving Facility.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Thomas R. Adams' daughters, Virginia H. Adams and Jody Adams, on behalf of the Virginia M. Adams estate, 2022.

Separated Materials

John E. Alden's papers were donated in conjunction with the Thomas Randolph Adams papers. Alden's papers were separated out as their own collection, the John E. Alden papers (MC368).
Thomas Randolph Adams papers
Zepka, Laura.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Williams College Archives & Special Collections Repository

Sawyer Library
26 Hopkins Hall Drive
Williamstown, MA 01267