In traditional publishing, writers and artists entrust editors, designers, printers, and many others with making decisions about how to produce and distribute their work. In exchange for financing the process and applying their expertise, publishers assume most of the risks and rewards. Self-publishing puts more control in the creators’ hands, whether they’re paying to have their work printed, producing it entirely themselves, or something in between.

While the digital era has brought an explosion of new avenues for self-publishing, the practice is a much broader and more enduring phenomenon. This exhibition brings together material from the eighteenth century to the present day that illuminates reasons why people self-publish and some of the tools they use to do so. Household names rub elbows with the obscure; sumptuous bindings sit next to staples; the silly and serious mingle. The different motivations and methods on display animate a tradition of self-publishing that today is as strong as ever.

This exhibition was curated by Christine Jacobson, Assistant Curator of Modern Books & Manuscripts, and Kristine Greive, Head of Teaching and Learning, and was designed by Zoë Pulley.

Please note this exhibition includes some explicit language and nudity.

Join us for a workshop! 

Join local artists, zine-makers, and designers in a series of hands-on printing workshops. Workshops are free and open to the public, and all materials will be provided. Space is limited and registration is required—more info and signup via the links below.

Download the zine!

The curators and designer have created a zine to accompany this exhibition. Read online and download from DASH (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard), Harvard's digital repository.

Join us for a tour!

Join exhibition curators, Houghton librarians Kristine Greive and Christine Jacobson, for a special guided tour of Do It Yourself!. This 45-minute tour will include discussion of the themes of the exhibition, highlights from the materials on display, and ample time for participant questions.

Advance registration is required.

Curators request that participants wear face coverings; Houghton can provide masks if needed.

Persons with disabilities who would like to request accommodations or have questions about physical access may contact Houghton Library's Administrative Coordinator Le Huong Huynh by email or at 617-495-2443 at least 48 hours in advance of the tour.