Bow & Arrow Press Finds Permanent Home at Harvard Library

In a recent agreement between Harvard College and Harvard Library, Bow & Arrow Press, the historic letterpress printing studio founded in 1978 in Adams House, has found a new home with Harvard Library. 

Bow & Arrow Press will join Harvard Library’s printing studio, run by Houghton Library’s Printing and Graphic Arts department. The Press will be located in Lamont Library under the supervision of a dedicated staff member, and will host extracurricular programs such as open studio hours and workshops. Being located in Lamont, the Bow & Arrow Press will be ideally situated to continue to serve the University community, with a special emphasis on students at Harvard College.

“I am so pleased that Houghton Library will be able to serve as a new home for the Bow & Arrow Press,” said Tom Hyry, Associate University Librarian for Archives and Special Collections and Florence Fearrington Librarian of Houghton Library. 

“Houghton has greatly valued our strong and symbiotic relationship with Bow & Arrow throughout its history in Adams House, and we anticipate great things will come from combining the Press's unique creative culture with the exceptional printing history collections of the library.”

For nearly 50 years, Bow & Arrow Press operated in Harvard College’s residential Adams House near the corner of Bow and Arrow streets, which gave the Press its name and where it became the University’s center of letterpress printing. Particularly active in the 80s and 90s, the Press, managed by volunteer non-resident Adams House tutors, was a popular destination for students and community members. In 1993, the Press even printed the first edition of Keeping Going, a book of poems by Seamus Heaney, Litt. D. ’98.

In May 2023, the Press left Adams House as part of the Harvard House Renewal program. This spring, a plan was finalized to embed Bow & Arrow Press in Harvard Library, with the Library providing space, oversight, and general financial support and Harvard College funding a half-time studio manager to oversee programs and activities.

Jack Megan, Director of the Office for the Arts, expressed his delight with the Harvard Library partnership: “I am thrilled that the Bow & Arrow Press has found a new home at Houghton Library. The Press plays a unique role in the arts and literary community at Harvard. Over the years, countless faculty and students have explored letterpress printing at the Press — setting poems, creating broadsides for performances, and undertaking a broad range of artistic projects.”

Megan added, “The Houghton Library, with its extraordinary collection of rare books and materials, is an ideal partner for the Bow & Arrow. I am excited to know that the letterpress tradition will continue for future generations of Harvard students.”

In the coming months, the Library will announce a timeline for starting up Bow & Arrow Press operations in Lamont. Once it’s operational, the Press will continue to serve the Harvard community by offering hands-on printing workshops and open studio hours during evenings and weekends.

To celebrate the next era of Bow & Arrow Press, Houghton Library will mount an exhibition on its history, featuring many of the works printed at the Press over its 45 years in operation.