Houghton is the primary repository for Harvard's rare books and manuscripts. The wealth of primary source material is managed by an expert staff and augmented by exhibitions, lectures, seminars, publications and courses.
Library Tools & Services
Houghton is the primary repository for Harvard's rare books and manuscripts. The wealth of primary source material is managed by an expert staff and augmented by exhibitions, lectures, seminars, publications and courses.Announcements The Gazette has featured the newly acquired writer’s guide for the science fiction TV show “Star Trek,” which offers aspiring scriptwriters everything they would need to know before crafting a script for the ’60s cult classic. In the exhibition Boston's Crusade Against Slavery, Professor John Stauffer and his students work with Houghton Library collections to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Learn more about Houghton's recent (and infamous) acquisition, the collection of Julio Mario Santo Domingo, the world’s largest private collection of material documenting altered states of mind. Houghton's Private Proust: Letters and Drawings to Reynaldo Hahn exhibit was featured in the Gazette.
Overview of Collections
Collections range across the history of civilization with particular strengths in European and American history and literature. The collections are especially strong in manuscripts, printing and graphic arts and theatre history. See the Houghton Library Collections page for more information.
Modern Books & Manuscripts
The Modern Books & Manuscripts Collection encompasses materials in all formats dating from 1800 to the present. The department has responsibility for approximately 9.5 million manuscripts and 250,000 rare books and serials, many with important associations, plus substantial numbers of printed ephemera, photographs, drawings, paintings, and objects.
Printing & Graphic Arts
The Printing & Graphic Arts Collection documents the development of letterform, from 13th century manuscripts to contemporary digitized type, and all aspects of the art of the book, including design, printing, illustration, and paper.
Early Books & Manuscripts
The Early Books & Manuscripts Collection includes material dating from approximately 3000 BCE to 1600 CE and ranges from papyri to early and illuminated manuscripts to early printed books. While there is an emphasis on Western languages and cultures, the collection is also strong in Arabic, Indic, Persian, and Syriac manuscripts. (MS Lat 167, Houghton Library, Harvard University).
Theodore Roosevelt Collection
The Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Harvard College Library, is a comprehensive group of manuscript, printed, pictorial, and ephemeral materials relating to Theodore Roosevelt, twenty-sixth president of the United States. It is organized into the Roosevelt class--a classified sequence primarily of printed items; a manuscript collection; and other archival record series enumerated in the general collection guide.
Harvard Theatre Collection
The Harvard Theatre Collection, which was founded in 1901 through the efforts of Prof. George Pierce Baker, was the first collection of its kind to be established in this country, and it stands as one of the largest performing arts collections in the world, the oldest theatre collection in the world of international significance.
Harry Elkins Widener Collection
Harry Elkins Widener (1885-1912), Harvard Class of 1907, formed an extraordinary collection of books, manuscripts, and drawings during his short lifetime. His original library, collected prior to his death on the Titanic in 1912, consists of approximately 3,300 volumes housed in the Memorial Room in Widener Library.
The Donald & Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Johnson and Early Modern Books and Manuscripts
Early Modern Books & Manuscripts includes materials produced 1600-1800, and is especially strong in English literature, U.S. history, history of science, and book history. The centerpiece of the department is the Donald & Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson.
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Houghton Library is open without fee to all adult researchers regardless of academic affiliation. We cannot accommodate students younger than college-age in the Reading Room, but catalogs, online finding-aids and most digitized items can be accessed by anyone.All users of the Houghton Reading Room must register for a Special Collections Request Account. Patrons can register online by creating a Special Collections Request Account. For more information see Access to Special Collections.Patrons who are not currently affiliated with Harvard University or who do not hold a Special Borrower Card will need to visit the Library Privileges Office at Widener Library to obtain a Harvard College Library Special Collections Card. Patrons are required to present a valid Harvard ID, HCL Special Borrower Card, or HCL Special Collections Card at the library in order to use materials. See Houghton's Admittance page.
Houghton's front door is accessible via a flight of steps up from the level of Quincy Street. Alternative access without stairways may be arranged by phoning Public Services at 617-495-2440. See Houghton Library Disability Services.
From Austen to Zola: The Amy Lowell Collection
Amy Lowell - a controversial, cigar-smoking, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet - collected works by prominent artists such as Jane Austen, William Blake, Charlotte Brontë, Michaelangelo, Walt Whitman and Émile Zola. A selection from Lowell's collection