For over 150 years, the Harvard University Archives has served as the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and Harvard faculty papers, as well as collections of student and alumni memorabilia and papers, records of Harvard-affiliated organizations and other historical materials. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard University from the 17th century to the present.
Working with satellite programs at the medical and business Schools, the University Archives seeks to document the faculty, students and academic programs at the University as well as Harvard’s central administration, its libraries, museums, research centers and affiliated organizations.
Harvard University Archives staff works closely with Harvard offices, faculty, alumni/ae and other donors to identify those materials of research interest to preserve. The best way to determine if materials are appropriate for donation to the Archives is to schedule a consultation with a member of Collection Development department. For more information about donating and transferring materials to the University Archives, refer to these basic and frequently asked questions.
The Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for Harvard faculty archives. The Archives currently holds the personal and professional archives of over 1,500 faculty members, with collections dating from the early 17th century to the present.
The holdings include the personal and professional collections of a wide variety of Harvard faculty, representing nearly every discipline taught at Harvard from its establishment in 1636. These archives are essential to documenting the intellectual life of the faculty, the development of academic disciplines and the worldwide impact of ideas generated by individuals at Harvard. In addition, faculty archives provide unique insight into the personal, social and cultural lives of the Harvard faculty community.
The University Archives is interested in collecting personal and professional archives of tenured faculty and others with extensive or unique academic connections with the University. Although there are certain materials we seek from all faculty (correspondence, manuscripts, teaching materials, research notes and files), every faculty member is unique and each collection contains special materials, in a variety of formats that may be of long-term interest. The University Archives staff works with faculty to examine their collections and gain insight into their work to better understand what materials make up their archives.
Faculty members are encouraged to contact the Associate University Archivist for Collection Development to schedule an individual consultation, discuss procedures for donation of papers, or for advice of any kind about records. For guidance on understanding faculty archives, please see our Guidelines for Managing Faculty Files and our FAQ.
Family and Friends
The Harvard University Archives manuscript collections encompass a wide range of subject matter forming the documentary history of Harvard and providing insight into the material culture, social concerns and intellectual life in New England and beyond over the past four centuries.
The manuscript collections focus primarily on faculty work, but important Harvard history hides in all sorts of places. The Archives collects published and unpublished materials documenting all aspects of the Harvard community, including faculty and staff, student academic and extracurricular life, events, buildings, the physical campus and the surrounding area, sports, social and cultural activities and community involvement. Through these kinds of donations, the Archives documents changes in social and cultural traditions over time, the experiences of a diverse range of individuals and groups at Harvard and shifts in attitudes, mores and society at the University.
Materials of interest include
- Personal and professional archives and memorabilia created by or belonging to people who have had a significant relationship to Harvard
- Records and other materials collected or created by non-Harvard individuals and organizations enhancing our knowledge of Harvard and the surrounding community history
- Books and publications about Harvard or the surrounding area
- Non-Harvard but University-related manuscript collections of major research significance
The Harvard University Archives actively collects materials documenting the intellectual, social, and cultural aspects of student and alumni life at and after Harvard from the 17th century to the present. Alumni often have key materials that help expand our documentation of student and academic life at Harvard. Unfortunately, student and alumni materials are often lost or discarded after their immediate use is finished, and, consequently, they are not as abundant and easily accessible for research.
The Archives seeks the personal papers and memorabilia of alumni focusing on their time and activities at Harvard and/or their continuing relationship with the University.
Materials of interest include
- Diaries, letters, and scrapbooks
- Records and memorabilia from student organizations and clubs
- Flyers, posters, invitations, and other memorabilia from events and social activities
- Photographs and audio and video recordings of the campus and Harvard student and alumni events
- Copies of student publications
- Course notes, syllabi, lab notebooks, assignments, and other class material
The Archives does not collect all the records of every graduate of Harvard, but seeks special collections documenting various types of Harvard and post-Harvard experiences. If you have materials and memorabilia documenting student or alumni/ae experiences relating to Harvard for possible donation, contact the Collection Development department at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-384-7786.
As the oldest continuously operating corporation in the Western Hemisphere, the University’s institutional archives are a cornerstone of the University Archives historical collections. In addition to formal administrative records, the personal and professional archives of Harvard’s presidents, deans, provosts, and center directors add much to the documentation one of the most prominent and influential academic and cultural institutions in the country.
Our administrative history collections date back to the 17th century and encompass personal and family papers, administrative records and artifacts. These materials provide a complete picture of Harvard’s administrative life. Included in these collections are the personal diaries of Presidents Wadsworth and Leverett, John Hancock’s papers as treasurer, as well as more recent personal archives from Deans Jeremy Knowles, Henry Rosovsky, and Evelynn Hammonds. Not only do these materials document the evolution of the University, but also relationships, cultural and social changes, and shifts in values and mores over time.
Senior Administrators are welcome to contact the Archives for further information about identifying appropriate professional or personal materials appropriate for preservation at the Archives.
For information about the handling of official University records, see Managing University Records.
Student life and education is at the center of Harvard’s mission. The Harvard University Archives has been collecting, preserving and making available for research materials documenting student life and culture for 150 years. The collections contain student diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, class notes and student work and other materials documenting involvement in extra-curricular activities, clubs and sports.
The student life collections include a wide variety of materials documenting the student experience at Harvard, ranging from student letters of future leaders like John Hancock to printouts of the student work of Bill Gates. These materials provide a snapshot of the student experience at Harvard – academic, social, cultural and personal. Social movements taking place at Harvard, in Cambridge, in the US and the world are reflected in these materials as well.
Student materials of interest include
- Diaries, letters, and scrapbooks
- Photographs and drawings
- Audio and video recordings
- Course notes, syllabi, and assignments
- Student publications
- Memorabilia, flyers, posters and other records of student organizations
Clubs & Organizations
The Harvard University Archives seeks to document the activities and interests of students, faculty, staff and alumni at Harvard. These activities and shared interests – be they theater, sports, music, games, literature, art, poetry, photography, social justice or politics – create and enhance Harvard’s social and cultural network and foster relationships through organizations, groups and clubs. Evidence of these organizations most often is found in their records.
The Archives actively collects the records Harvard student, alumni/ae, faculty and staff organizations. Preserving these records not only provides documentation of the groups and the individuals who participate in them, but also the events they sponsor and the evolution of the social, cultural and political arenas and instances bringing them together. These social history microcosms are of interest to both scholars and the Harvard community at large and provide researchers with material to study social and political movements, leadership, campus culture and university policies.
The Archives would like to help Harvard organizations document their history and their activities and invite them to donate their records for preservation and research. The University Archives is interested in records created by organizations whose members work or study at Harvard or have worked or studied at Harvard, or are brought together because of an interest in Harvard.