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Houghton Library

Rare books, manuscripts, archives and other primary sources
Harvard’s principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. Houghton Library is a destination for students and scholars on campus and around the world.
Today: Closed



  • Please be advised that due to the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, Houghton Library will be closed to researchers beginning Monday, March 16th. Given the fluid and evolving nature of the situation, we do not currently have a date on which the Houghton Reading Room will reopen. 
  • Houghton Library Research Services staff will be working remotely during this period to answer research queries. For questions or concerns regarding Houghton Library, please contact 
  • For additional information and updates, please visit the Harvard Library Visitor Access website and Harvard University’s main Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage.
  • The Houghton Library building is closed for renovation until September 2020. Researchers can access the Library’s collections through an interim reading room in Widener Library, with some exceptions. For interim reading room hours and information about collection restrictions, visit the Houghton Renovation website.
  • Houghton Library's reading room is open to all adult researchers regardless of academic affiliation.
  • All are welcome in the library's exhibition and event spaces.
  • Please note that, due to the building renovation, public tours and visits to the Emily Dickinson and John Keats rooms are suspended through the fall of 2020.
  • 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 calling public services at 617-495-2440.

Renovation Project

The Houghton Library building is currently closed as we modernize our research and teaching facilities, expand our exhibition galleries, and improve physical access to our spaces and holdings.

Accessing Materials

Explore Collections

Since 1942, Houghton’s founding collections have been greatly augmented by a curatorial team whose responsibilities are now divided by period or theme. Today’s curators balance consolidating Houghton’s areas of traditional strength, and forging new directions to better serve the library’s mission to support teaching and research.

Modern Books and Manuscripts: World Culture, 1800 to Today

Manuscripts, books, photographs, and popular culture material with a focus on literature and history of Europe and the Americas, and Arabic and Indic manuscripts. Additional subjects include the history of missions; the Russian Revolution; publishing history; music; philosophy and much more.

Early Modern Books and Manuscripts 

Books, manuscripts and prints from the period 1600-1800. The collection is very broad in scope but particular areas of focus include the history of the Atlantic world, European and American literature, mathematics and physical sciences, and the history of the book.

Early Books and Manuscripts 

Material dating from approximately 3000 BCE to 1600 CE and ranging 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.

Harvard Theatre Collection

Rare books, manuscripts, images, ephemera, and audiovisual materials documenting the performing arts, with particular strengths in Anglo-American theater, ballet, opera, music, and historical forms of popular entertainment.

Printing and Graphic Arts

Original artifacts from all periods illustrating the book arts and the materiality and historical development of the book, whether manuscript or printed. Primary emphasis is on books in languages that use the roman alphabet, although the collection includes representative examples from other cultural traditions.

Woodberry Poetry Room

The Woodberry Poetry Room is a warm, welcoming poetry library and landmark audio-visual archive featuring over 5,000 spoken voice recordings, located in Lamont Library and overseen by Houghton Library.

Teaching at Houghton



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Lecture Series


Each year Houghton Library invites distinguished scholars to deliver four lectures in honor of George Parker Winship, and Philip and Frances Hofer. The lectures are free and open to the public.

Join our mailing list for updates on Winship, Hofer and other public programs happening at Houghton.

Frances and Philip Hofer embarking on one of their many journeys to Europe, circa 1954.
Frances and Philip Hofer embarking on one of their many journeys to Europe, circa 1954.

Philip and Frances Hofer Lectures on the Art of the Book

The Philip and Frances Hofer Lecture Series was established in 1968 for the purpose of sponsoring “lectures on subjects of special interest to Harvard students and scholars within the range of the Printing and Graphic Arts field.”

Philip Hofer — Harvard College class of 1921 and founding curator of Houghton's Department of Printing and Graphic Arts — endowed the lecture fund in his name and that of his wife on the occasion of his retirement from Houghton Library.

In addition to the Hofer Lecture Series, Houghton Library in conjunction with the Harvard Art Museum awards an annual Philip Hofer Prize for Collecting Books or Art.

George Parker Winship Lectures on Bibliography

George Parker Winship in the Widener Memorial Room, circa 1920.
George Parker Winship in the Widener Memorial Room, circa 1920.
Harvard University Archives

The Winship Lectures were established in 1968 by a gift from the John Barnard Associates, a society of Harvard book-lovers founded in 1927 by Winship. For further information on Winship and the history of the lecture series, see:

George Parker Winship as Librarian, Typophile and Teacher, edited by Roger Stoddard. Cambridge [Mass.]: The Harvard College Library, 1999.

"The George Parker Winship Lecture Series at Houghton Library: A Bibliographer’s Creed", by G. Thomas Tanselle. Harvard Library Bulletin.Spring 2014, Volume 25, Number 1.

Past Hofer Lectures

  • Laura Wasowicz, “Radiant with Color & Art: The McLoughlin Brothers Printing and Publishing Empire, 1858-1920,” April 5, 2018
  • Katherine M. Ruffin, “Books as Portals: Reading and Responding to Historical Collections in the 21st Century,” November 9, 2017
  • Nicholas Benson, “The John Stevens Shop: Three Hundred Years of Inscriptions in Stone,” April 19, 2017
  • Freyda Spira, “William Ivins, Philip Hofer, and the Art of the Book,” October 20, 2016
  • Stephen J. Milner, “Printing, Parchment, and Protein: The Bioarcheology of Harvard’s Books on Skin,” April 13, 2016
  • Francesca Tancini, “A for Art, B for Books, C for Crane,” September 30, 2015
  • Claudia Funke, “Beauty, Truth, and the Book,” April 28, 2015
  • Mark Dimunation, “Reading Artists Books: Intention and Perception in Contemporary Book Arts,” November 12, 2014
  • Marcia Reed, “The Qianlong Emperor’s Copper-Plate Engravings,” March 25, 2014
  • Paul F. Gehl, “Collecting Type on the Page: Printing History Libraries in America,” November 7, 2013
  • Roger Gaskell, “A Peculiar Facility for Imagining: Visual Strategies in the Early Royal Society,” April 16, 2013
  • Russell Maret, “Time, Technology & the Shapes of Letters,” November 15, 2012
  • Robert M. Peck, “The Remarkable Nature of Edward Lear,” April 5, 2012
  • Dick Davis, “Women and Other Foreigners in Firdawsi’s Shahnama,” October 28, 2010
  • Ulrich Marzolph, “The Shahnama in Print: The Early Printed Editions of the Persian National Epic and the History of Printing in Iran and India,” October 19, 2010
  • Stephen O. Saxe, “Turning Lead into Gold: Nineteenth-Century American Type Foundries and Their Specimen Books,” April 20, 2010
  • Richard S. Field, “Cutting Remarks: The Preparation of Woodcuts, 1400-1600,” December 3, 2009
  • Margaret Bent, “The Recovery of Medieval Music from Damaged and Fragmentary Sources,” April 14, 2009
  • J.F. Coakley, “Exotic Languages and Metal Type,” April 22, 2008
  • Sidney E. Berger, “It’s Only a Paper Tune: The Re-entry of Japanese Paper into the U.S.,” October 30, 2007
  • Stan Nelson, “There’s Nothing Like the Real Thing: Uses of Historical Printing Equipment,” April 24, 2007
  • Virginia Brown, “E.A. Lowe in Italy: The Making of The Beneventan Script,” November 14, 2006
  • Irene Tichenor, “No Art Without Craft: The Work of the De Vinne Press,” October 18, 2005
  • Georgia B. Barnhill, “With a French Accent: American Lithography, 1820-1860,” April 27, 2005
  • John Bidwell, “Industrial Hubris: A Revisionist History of the Papermaking Machine,” March 25, 2004
  • Roderick Cave, “The English Tradition in Nature Printing,” March 31, 2003
  • Bruce Redford, “‘Vice & Vertu’: The Society of the Dilettanti at Home and Abroad,” January 22, 2002
  • Sue Allen, “The Book Cover Art of Sarah Wyman Whitman,” May 6, 1999
  • Jay Bochner, “The First Simultaneous Book: La prose du transsiberien by Sonia Delaunay and Blaise Cendrars,” Spring 1998
  • David P. Becker, “Writing Matters: Lettering and its Histories,” May 14, 1997
  • Johanna Drucker, “The Artist’s Book: From Historical Precedents to Electronic Possibilities,” October 3, 1996
  • Bruce Kennett, “W.A. Dwiggins and Stephen A. Harvard: Creative Lives after Hours,” March 13, 1996
  • Eugenia Parry Janis, “What Writers Think about Photographs,” November 2, 1995
  • Elizabeth Jackson and Felicia Rice, “Henri Michaux: Livres d’artiste,” October 5, 1995
  • Arthur Vershbow, “Japanese Woodcut Books of the Edo Period (ca. 1610-1868),” May 5, 1994
  • James Mosley, “Eric Gill: Master of Line,” April 26, 1994
  • Martin Huttner, “Merrymount: The Centennial of a Great American Press,” April 28, 1993
  • Barbara Stafford, “The Art of Conjuring, or How the Romantic Virtuoso Learned from the Enlightened Charlatan,” September 26, 1991
  • Claire Van Vliet, “Papers and Books at the Janus Press,” May 15, 1991
  • Gunnar Kaldewey, “Books as Art,” November 28, 1990
  • Eleanor Garvey, “My Hobby, Books, Has Turned into a Profession: Philip Hofer and the Graphic Arts,” January 10, 1990
  • August Heckscher, “The Printer’s Challenge,” November 29, 1989
  • Eugenia Parry Janis, “Sir Thomas Phillipps: Photographic Memoirs of a ‘Vellomaniac’,” November 6, 1989
  • William Bentinck-Smith, Lucien Goldschmidt, Charles Ryskamp, and Arthur Vershbow, “Philip Hofer as a Collector,” November 10, 1988
  • Vivnen Noakes, “Edward Lear: The Illustrator,” May 5, 1988
  • Alessandro Corubolo and Gino Castiglioni, “Two Very Private Printers of Verona,” November 14, 1987
  • Mirjam Foote, “Bookbinding and the History of Books,” May 7, 1987
  • John E. Benson, “Carved Letters from the John Stevens Shop,” December 4, 1986
  • Anthony Crane, “Walter Crane and Frederick Sandys: A Grandson’s View of Two Victorian Artists,” April 3, 1986
  • Susan Otis Thompson, “Publishing for the Parlor: Thomas Bird Mosher and Elbert Hubbard,” November 21, 1985
  • Hans A. Halbey, “20th Century Calligraphy in Germany,” October 15, 1984
  • John Rowlands, “Hans Holbein the Younger as a Graphic Artist,” October 19, 1983
  • John Plummer, “Jean Poyet: A Recently Identified French Artist of the Fifteenth Century,” April 25, 1983
  • Terisio Pignatti “Venetian Architecture – The View Painters’ Approach,” December 8, 1981
  • Stephen Harvard, “Cataneo and the Living Alphabet,” October 27, 1981
  • John E. Bowlt, “A Slap in the Face of Public Taste – Book Design and the Russian Avant-Garde,” December 2, 1980
  • Hans Schmoller, “The Microcosm of Decorated Paper,” October 21, 1980
  • Dorothy Abbe, “The Art of William Addison Dwiggins,” November 7, 1979
  • James Mosley, “The Caslons and Eighteenth Century English Type Founding,” April 12, 1979
  • John Dreyfus, “The Calligraphy and Type Designs of Edward Johnston,” November 1, 1978
  • Adrian Wilson, “The Making of the Nuremberg Chronicle,” April 5, 1978
  • Andrew Wilton, “Blake as a Landscape Artist,” February 24, 1978
  • Julius S. Held, “Rubens and the Book,” December 1, 1977
  • Leo Wyatt, “About Engraving,” March 29, 1977
  • Lloyd J. Reynolds, “From Script to Print and the Revival of Script,” December 2, 1976
  • John Lowe, “Early Views of Japan,” November 16, 1976
  • John Dreyfus, “Eric Gill as Type Designer and Book Illustrator,” October 30, 1973
  • Ruth Mortimer, “A Portrait of the Author in Sixteenth Century Italy,” March 20, 1973
  • Jakob Rosenberg, “Toulouse-Lautrec and His Favorite Models,” December 13, 1972
  • A. Hyatt Mayor, “Splendid Occasions and Royal Festivals,” April 25, 1972
  • A.R.A. Hobson, “The Quest for Canevari,” October 20, 1961
  • Howard M. Nixon, “English Eighteenth Century Bookbindings,” May 5, 1971
  • Hans A. Halbey, “Contemporary International Book Design and Illumination,” October 13, 1970
  • Marcel Thomas, “The Library of Charles V of France and the Illuminations Ordered by His Royal Command,” March 19, 1970
  • Boies Penrose, “English Printing at Antwerp in the Fifteenth Century,” March 5, 1969
  • Giovanni Mardersteig, “Leon Battista Alberti and the Revival of Roman Monumental Lettering the Renaissance,” December 5, 1968
  • A.N.L. Munby, “The Earl and the Thief: Lord Ashburnham and Count Libri,” May 1, 1968
  • Leonard Baskin, “The Graphic Arts – Three Aspects,”April 23, 1968

Past Winship Lectures

Lectures published in the Harvard Library Bulletin or recorded are indicated below.

  • Tom Conley, Abbott Lawrence Lowell Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies and of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University, “Seeing Text, Reading Maps”, February 13, 2018
  • Rick Prelinger, Professor of Film & Digital Media at UC Santa Cruz, “Effacements in the Repository: Do Physical Objects Have the Right To Exist?”, October 17, 2017
  • Ann Blair, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor; Affiliate of the Department of History of Science, Harvard University, “The Objects of Houghton Library: Past, Present and Future”, April 20, 2017, Delivered on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Houghton Library
  • Stephen Greenblatt, John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University, “Editing Shakespeare for the Digital Age”, February 9, 2016
  • Christopher Hunter, Assistant Professor of English, California Institute of Technology, “Inventing Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography”, December 8, 2015
  • Robert Crawford, Poet, Professor of English, and Director of Research for Planning, Publications, and Grants at University of St. Andrews, “Was T.S. Eliot Ever Young?”, April 23, 2015
  • Sir Christopher Ricks, William M. and Sara B. Warren Professor of Humanities and Co-Director, Editorial Institute, Boston University, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: ‘the Muse in a psychopathic ward’”, April 8, 2015
  • Michael F. Suarez, S.J., University Professor and Director of Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, “The Collector's Wisdom and the Dealer's Delight: Bibliographical Understandings and the History of Books, October 21, 2014
  • G. Thomas Tanselle, Former Vice President of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and Adjunct Professor of English at Columbia University, “A Bibliographer’s Creed”, April 1, 2014
  • William Sherman, Professor of English and Related Literature at the University of York, “The Reader’s Eye: Between Annotation and Illustration”, November 19, 2013
  • Carl Rollyson, Advisory Editor of the Hollywood Legends series published by University Press of Mississippi, “Archiving a Life: The Amy Lowell Way", October 3, 2013
  • Nick Wilding, Assistant Professor in Early Modern History, Georgia State University, “Forging the Moon: or, How to Spot a Fake Galileo”, April 10, 2013
  • Robert De Maria, Professor of English on the Henry Noble MacCracken Chair, Vassar College, “The History of the Complete Works of Samuel Johnson: The First Two Hundred Years”, October 25, 2012 (Rescheduled from April 19, 2012)
  • Roger Stoddard, “How I Found the Poets and How I Left Them: a Librarians's Apology for Bibliography”, October 11, 2012
  • Paul Needham, Scheide Librarian, Princeton University, “The Gutenberg Bible from Past to Present”, October 24, 2011
  • Dr. Urs Leu, Zentralbibliothek Zürich, “The Hollis Collections in Switzerland”, April 6, 2010
  • Christopher de Hamel, Gaylord Donelley Fellow Librarian of Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University, “The Destruction of the Book of Hours of Etienne Chevalier, Illuminated by Jean Fouquet”, February 2, 2009
  • David Supino, author of Henry James: a Bibliographical Catalogue of a Collection of Editions to 1921, “Henry James’ Fiction: Patterns of Production of Houghton Mifflin and Macmillan & Company, December 9, 2008
  • Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the Harvard University Library, “Bad Books: The Art and Politics of Libel in Eighteenth-Century France”, October 23, 2007
  • Peter Stallybrass, Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania, “Benjamin Franklin: Printed Corrections and Erasable Writing”, September 20, 2006
  • Professor Ian Maclean, All Souls College, Oxford, England, “Murder, Debt and Retribution: The Italico-Franco-Spanish Book Trade & the Beraud-Michel-Ruiz Affair, 1586-91”, March 14, 2006
  • Martin Antonetti, Curator of Rare Books in Smith College Library, “‘Questa nuova inventione de littere’: Arrighi and the Curalists in Renaissance Rome”, December 1, 2004
  • William Zachs, Author of The First John Murray and the Late Eighteenth-Century London Book Trade, “Collecting à la mode, or a bibliomaniac’s progress”, November 18, 2004
  • Marino Zorzi, Director, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, “The Library of St. Mark’s: from a Collection of Greek Manuscripts to a Contemporary Institution”, April 22, 2004
  • Francois Dupuigrenet Desroussilles, Directeur de l’Enssib, “Le gout de l’Ecriture: la Bible de Sacy et sa diffusion en France (1674-1778)”, April 8, 2004
  • Richard Ovenden, Keeper of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, Oxford University, “What a warfare we have had and are still engag’d in’: Building the Bodleian’s Special Collections until now (and beyond)”, March 22, 2004, Harvard Library Bulletin 15:1-2(2004), 116-126
  • James N. Green, Associate Librarian of the Library Company of Philadelphia, “Building Libraries by Collecting Collections”, March 22, 2004, Harvard Library Bulletin 15:1-2(2004), 108-115
  • Claudia Funke, Curator of Rare Books in the Avery Library, Columbia University, “in What Style Should We Build Our Collections”, March 22, 2004, Harvard Library Bulletin 15:1-2(2004), 99-107
  • Antoine Coron, Directeur de la Réserve, Bibliothèque nationale de France, “acquisitions of the Réserve des livres rares: Situation and Perpectives”, March 22, 2004, Harvard Library Bulletin 15:1-2(2004), 85-98
  • Gerd-Josef Bötte, Rare-Books Librarian in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, “Collecting the German Printed Heritage: the Sammlung Deutscher Drucke as Germany’s Virtual National Library”, March 22, 2004, Harvard Library Bulletin 15:1-2(2004), 77-84
  • Kenneth E. Carpenter, Assistant Director for Research Resources in the Harvard University Library, retired, “The Rise and Decline of Libraries of Learning”, April 15, 2003
  • Arnold Hunt, University of Nottingham, Fellow, “E. Gordon Duff: The Scholar as Collector”, March 12, 2003
  • Vincent Giroud, Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University Library, “Pierre Lecuire as Artist of the Book”, November 20, 2001
  • Charles E. Robinson, Professor of English, University of Delaware, “Ten Texts of Frankenstein: From UR-Text to the Bentley Standard Novel of 1831”, October 25, 2001
  • Matthew Carter, Type Designer, “The Black Art Today: Designing Type for Newspapers and Magazines”, February 22, 2001
  • Hugh Amory, Senior Rare Book Cataloger in the Houghton Library, Emeritus, “An 18th-Century Book Club: Thomas Prince and the Old South Church”, November 8, 2000
  • Roger Gaskell, Bookdealer in Rare Early Science Literature, U.K., “Printing House and Engraving Shop: a Mysterious Collaboration”, October 25, 2000
  • James Mosley, Librarian, St Bride Printing Library, London, “Primitive Types: The Sanserif Letter from Neo-Classical Icon to Tool of Commerce”, April 12, 2000
  • James N. Green, Associate Librarian, The Library Company of Philadelphia, “Thomas Bradford and His Philadelphia Circulating Library (1771-1772): A Late Colonial Urban Reading Community”, October 20, 1999, Co-sponsored by the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies History of the Book Seminar
  • Ann Blair, Assistant Professor of History and of History and Literature, Harvard University, “Readers and the Tools of Consultation in Early Modern Europe”, May 6, 1999, Co-sponsored by the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies History of the Book Seminar
  • Nina M. Demurova, Honorary Fellow of the Modern European Centre, Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London, “Lewis Carroll in the Russian Wonderland”, April 20, 1998
  • Michael B. Winship, Professor of English, University of Texas at Austin, “Fine Arts 5e: the Invention and the Aftermath”, April 17, 1997, George Parker Winship: As Librarian, Typophile and Teacher (1999), 28-40
  • Martin W. Hutner, President of the American Printing History Association, “G.P.W.: Passionate Partisan of Fine Printing”, April 17, 1997, George Parker Winship: As Librarian, Typophile and Teacher (1999), 15-27
  • Thomas R. Adams, Librarian Emeritus of the John Carter Brown Library, “G.P.W.: The Providence Years”, April 17, 1997, George Parker Winship: As Librarian, Typophile and Teacher (1999), 1-14
  • William B. Todd, Caldwell-Kerr Centennial Professor Emeritus in English History and Culture, University of Texas at Austin, “Further Reflections on the Wise Forgeries”, April 15, 1996
  • Jane Sellars, Director, Brontë Parsonage Museum, “Misused Talent and Painful Penance: Art in the Lives of Branwell and Anne Brontë”, April 11, 1996, Jointly sponsored by Victorian Literature and Culture Seminar at the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies
  • Christine Alexander, Associate Professor of English, University of New South Wales, “‘Ornamented and Redundant Composition’: Charlotte Brontë, Gender and the Art of Accomplishment.”
  • Anthony Grafton, Dodge Professor of History, Princeton University, “Reproducing Time and Space in Renaissance Germany: The Nuremberg Chronicle”, March 28, 1996
  • Robin Myers, Hon. Archivist, The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, London, “Dr. Ducarel and Lambeth Palace Library: The Truth about an Eighteenth-Century Antiquary, Advocate, and Librarian”, February 28, 1996
  • Jerome J. McGann, The John Stewart Bryan Professor of English, University of Virginia, “Radiant Textualities: Hypermedia and The Rosetti Hypermedia Archive”, November 1, 1995
  • David McKitterick, Fellow and Librarian, Trinity College, Cambridge, “Recovered from Lethe: John Keats, Monckton Milnes and Trinity College, Cambridge”, April 20, 1995
  • Richard Gerecke, Curator of Rare Books, State and University Library of Hamburg, “Christophe Daniel Ebeling (1741-1817): Expert Americanist in Hamburg, Germany”, April 19, 1994
  • Judith L. Goldstein, Professor of Anthropology, Vassar College, “Canards and Culture: Collecting and Reading Ephemera”, April 14, 1994
  • Mark Samuels Lasner, President of the American William Morris Society, “Collecting the 1890s”, April 7, 1994
  • Reimer Eck, Head of English and American Collections, State and University Library at Göttingen, “J. G. Cogswell, George Ticknor, Edward Everett and the Influence of Göttingen on American Libraries”, December 9, 1993
  • Sün Evrard, Book Binder and Designer, “Can I? Should I? Must I? Binding or Re-binding of Precious Books”, November 30, 1993
  • Wallace Kirsop, Professor of French Literature, Monash University, “From Boom to Bust in the ‘Chicago of the South’: The Nineteenth-Century Melbourne Book Trade”, April 21, 1993
  • William Royall Newman, Assistant Professor of the History of Science, “Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey”, February 16, 1993
  • Albert Derolez, Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books in the Centrale Bibliotheek of the Rijksuniversiteit, Ghent, “The Manuscripts of Hildegard of Bingen's Visionary Works”, February 3, 1993
  • Richard H. Rouse, Professor of History, University of California at Los Angeles, “Family and Neighborhood in the Organization of Manuscript Production in Paris on the Eve of Print, 1423-1475”, December 10, 1992, Jointly sponsored by the Committee on Medieval Studies
  • I. Bernard Cohen, Victor S. Thomas Professor of the History of Science Emeritus, Harvard University, “What Columbus Saw”, October 13, 1992
  • Nicholas Pickwoad, “The Uses of Bookbinding History”, December 4, 1991
  • Terry Belanger, “Education for Books as Physical Objects”, November 12, 1991
  • Elizabeth Eisenstein, “Grub Street Abroad”, October 30, 1991
  • Luigi Balsamo, Professor of Bibliography and Library Science, Instituto de Biblioteconomia e Paleografia, University of Parma; Editor, La Biblioifilia, “Bibliography and Libraries: Partners or Rivals?”, October 1, 1991
  • Natalie Zemon Davis, “Scholars and censorship: learned periodicals during the German occupation of France (1940-1944)”, April 26, 1991
  • David McKitterick, “The word, the law, and the profits: the Bible in seventeenth-century England”, March 28, 1991
  • Lotte Hellinga, “Printing press practice in fifteenth-century Europe”, March 14, 1991
  • Bernard H. Breslauer, “Master Jean Mallart, royal poet & calligrapher & sovereign water diviner”, February 21, 1991
  • I.B. Cohen, “From the heart of darkness to whiteness: visions of Antarctica in imagination and reality”, April 16, 1990
  • Nicolas Barker, “The perils of authorship in the 16th century: Pietro Bizari and William Parry”, November 16, 1989
  • William H. Scheide, “How a library came to music making”, May 4, 1989, Co-sponsored by the Harvard Department of Music
  • Karl S. Guthke, “Last words: a convention in life, literature and biography”, December 8, 1988
  • Donald C. Gallup, “The Eliots, and the T.S. Eliot collection at Harvard”, October 17, 1988, Harvard Library Bulletin
  • Feliz de Marez Oyens, “Medieval books at auction: Crevenna, Röver, Meerman, and other Dutch sales”, March 31, 1988
  • Richard Landon, “The outcast prophet and other tales of rarity from the true north”, November 18, 1987
  • Robert Darnton, “The Science of piracy: illegal publishing in eighteenth-century France”, October 29, 1987
  • John Bidwell, “Hiring, firing and factory discipline in an early American paper mill”, March 2, 1987
  • Oscar Handlin, “Learned books and revolutionary action, 1776”, December 10, 1986, Harvard Library Bulletin
  • Michael Winship, “Hermann Ernst Ludewig America’s forgotten bibliographer”, September 24, 1986
  • Margaret Crawford Maloney, “Limed twigs to catch young birds”, May 5, 1986
  • Adrian & Joyce Lancaster Wilson, “A Medieval Mirror: Speculum humanae salvationis 1324-1500 (Illustrations and text in manuscript and print)”, April 15, 1986
  • D.F. McKenzie, “Signs of sense? Bibliography and the sociology of texts”, January 28, 1986
  • Karl S. Guthke, “B. Traven, or was it somebody else? Towards a solution of ‘The greatest literary mystery of modern times’”, November 4, 1985
  • Arthur Freeman, John Payne Collier and the contagion of forgery”, April 23, 1985
  • I.B. Cohen, “The Newtonian revolution and its significance”, November 27, 1984
  • Sue Allen, “19th century American book covers”, November 5, 1984
  • Robert H. Taylor, “The early ineptitudes of a collector”, October 18, 1984
  • Steven Ozment, “The reformation as an intellectual revolution”, December 14, 1983
  • Paul Raabe, “Collections, scholars, and librarians at the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbűttel”, November 29, 1983
  • Owen Gingerich, “Copernicus’s De revolutionibus: an example of renaissance scientific printing”, November 14, 1983, Co-sponsored by the Bibliographical Society of America
  • Karl S. Guthke, “Are we alone? The idea of intelligent life in the universe of philosophy and literature from Copernicus to H.G. Wells”, March 9, 1983
  • W.H. Bond, “Thomas Hollis’s emblematic book bindings”, December 8, 1982
  • Rosamond McKitterick, “Early medieval libraries: catalogues and extant books, 750-900”, October 25, 1982
  • James Laughlin, “A portrait of Ezra Pound”, May 5, 1982
  • David McKitterick, “Educating a Paragon: Samuel Sandars and the Cambridge University Library”, March 2(?), 1981
  • Lotte Hellinga, “Patron and Printer, Margaret of York and Caxton”, November 23, 1981
  • Alois M. Nagler, “Commedia dell’arte at the Bavarian Court”, January 16, 1981
  • Ian Willison, “The British Museum Library: Early Benefactors from Sloan to Grenville”, October 27, 1980
  • A.R.A. Hobson, “English Library Interiors from Thomas Bodley to Horace Walpole”, February 26, 1979
  • Douglas H. Gordon, “George Parker Winship and His Friends”, May 18, 1978
  • Mirjam M. Foot, “A Talk on Bookbinding”, February 2, 1978
  • Bernard M. Rosenthal, “Cartel, Clan, or Dynasty? The Olschkis and the Rosenthals, 1849-1976”, April 8, 1976, Harvard Library Bulletin 25(1977), 381-398
  • Graham Pollard, “Jacob Golius and Books from the East”, December 13, 1973
  • Walter Oakeshott, “Some English Painters of the Later Twelfth Century”, January 23, 1973
  • Philip Hofer, “Calligraphy and Manuscripts in the Eastern World”, October 25, 1972
  • Douglas H. Gordon, “The Book-collecting Northamptonshire Ishams and their Book-loving Virginia and Massachusetts Cousins”, December 4, 1969, Harvard Library Bulletin 18(1970), 282-297
  • Boies Penrose, “English Printing at Antwerp in the Fifteenth Century”, March 5, 1969, Harvard Library Bulletin 18(1970), 21-31
  • A.N.L. Munby, “The Earl and the Thief: Lord Ashburnham and Count Libri”, May 1, 1968, Harvard Library Bulletin 17(1969), 5-21

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Copyright Questions 

The vast majority of Houghton material is either in the public domain or under copyrights not controlled by Houghton Library.

Houghton Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of most collection material (a few exceptions are listed below), nor does it charge permission or use fees. Permission, however, may be needed from other copyright holders or executors.

When to Contact Us

Please notify the library if you plan to publish facsimile editions of Houghton materials, and for articles, editorial projects, biographical and critical works that incorporate a substantial portion of a manuscript and/or collection. The library may wish to receive a copy of such works for its records.

Researchers must notify the library when publishing images of or quoting from the collections listed below. The list includes the major collections for which these conditions apply, but it’s not exhaustive. Please email the library with any questions.

  • American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM)
  • American Repertory Theatre Production Videos
  • Thomas Bouchard
  • Emily Dickinson
  • T.S. Eliot (some collections*)
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Joseph Clark Grew
  • Iranian Oral History Project
  • Alix Jeffry
  • Frederick Kiesler
  • John Lindquist archive
  • Amy Lowell
  • Angus McBean archive
  • L.E. Sissman
  • Andrei Sakharov Archives
  • Arks Smith
  • Tobi Tobias
  • Gore Vidal
  • Thomas Wolfe*

*There can be no reproduction or publication of material in these collections without advance permission from the copyright holder.

For material protected by copyright, certain uses (including but not limited to quoting, publishing, performing, and reproducing) may require permission from the copyright holder. When required, it’s the researcher’s responsibility to obtain such permissions.

The following resources may be helpful in this regard:

Several online resources can be useful in finding the current copyright holder of a work, and requesting licensing permission:

  • The WATCH File (Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders) maintained by the Harry Ransom Center and the University of Reading is a database of copyright contacts for writers, artists, and prominent figures in other creative fields.
  • Artists Rights Society is a copyright, licensing and monitoring organization for visual artists in the United States.
  • DACS is a visual artists’ rights management organization in the United Kingdom.
  • The ADAGP is a French collective which monitors copyright in the visual arts.
  • ASCAP and BMI are performing rights organizations which license and collect royalties for musical works.


Houghton Library asks that researchers cite all material referenced, quoted, or reproduced with the following citation format:

[Call number]. Houghton Library, Harvard University.

For example, a photograph reproduced from the Henry James papers would be cited as: MS Am 1094 (2245). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Media and Recording Requests  

Houghton Library is committed to supporting and promoting research, teaching, and learning, while at the same time preserving our rare and unique collections.

Houghton Library is not available as a background setting for non-educational, non-collection-related projects or promotions.

Filming and recording on-site at Houghton Library may be accommodated when:

  • A Harvard faculty member requests filming as part of their teaching program;
  • The University or Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Administration requests filming to promote education and/or teaching with the Harvard collections; or
  • A request from outside Harvard is for an educational project in which Houghton Library collections are integral.

All filming, recording or media requests should be made at least two weeks in advance. Requests should be emailed to Anne-Marie Eze, Houghton Library's director of scholarly and public programs.

Exhibition Loans

As we focus on renovating Houghton Library, we are imposing a moratorium on exhibition loans from April 2019 through December 2020. We will honor any loans that have already been approved for this time period; we will also consider loan requests for exhibitions opening in or after January 2021, but it may take longer than usual to respond.

Please bear in mind that due to our conservation assessment process for all outgoing loans, we ask to receive on-campus requests six months in advance of exhibition openings, and external requests twelve months ahead of opening. We appreciate your understanding of our need for a temporary loan moratorium. We look forward to January 2021 when we can resume our partnerships with institutions at Harvard and beyond.

If you would like to submit a request to borrow from Houghton for 2021 or later, please complete this form. If you have any other questions, contact Houghton Library’s Registrar, Carie McGinnis

About Houghton Library


Thomas Hyry

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to Houghton Library where we advance the pursuit, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge by stewarding a world class collection of rare books, manuscripts, archives, photographs, ephemera and other rare and unique materials.

The library serves as a center for advanced research, object-based and experiential learning, and community enrichment for the Harvard campus, the Boston-Cambridge metropolitan area, and beyond.

Houghton’s collection, which range from the ancient to the contemporary and from the local to the international, brim with potential energy and we take pride not only in the knowledge held and preserved in the library, but especially in the new discoveries and creations we enable and inspire.

Visitors attend an exhibit at Houghton Library

Houghton archivists, curators, librarians, and staff apply deep expertise to our work of building, interpreting, and fostering use of the collections. We seek to provide a welcoming atmosphere for a diverse set of faculty, students, and visitors to the library and we especially welcome first time users as well as seasoned researchers and teachers.

So whether you are an instructor integrating primary sources into your classroom, a scholar seeking new areas for discovery and study, a student beginning research for a class, a senior thesis, or your own interests, or a citizen wanting to learn more about history, society, and culture, we invite you to join us at Houghton. Please explore our website, discover the wealth of resources available for your use, and plan a visit to Houghton Library.

—Thomas Hyry, Florence Fearrington Librarian of Houghton Library

Exterior of Houghton Library

What We Do

  • Provide access to special collections
  • Perform reference and research consultations
  • Teach with primary sources
  • Acquire, catalog, process, and preserve rare books, manuscripts, archives, and more
  • Digitize collection materials to preserve and make them more widely accessible
  • Support research at Harvard and beyond through four fellowship programs
  • Organize and host dynamic public programs, including exhibitions, lectures, poetry readings, and symposia
  • Publish scholarly and literary journals: Harvard Library Bulletin and Harvard Review
  • Maintain an active national and international loan program
  • Conduct tours of the building every Friday

For updates on Houghton, sign up for our newsletter and visit or subscribe to the Houghton Library Blog.