Houghton Library opened its doors in 1942. Throughout 2017, we are celebrating the library’s world-class collections, and support of research and teaching over the last 75 years. Join in the celebrations by participating in our year-long program of events that promises visitors a unique glimpse of some of Houghton’s most treasured holdings:

  • Three exhibitions showcasing highlights from Houghton's collection selected by Harvard faculty, and the library’s curators, archivists and librarians
  • Film series screening movies inspired by or connected to Houghton’s literary archives
  • Houghton Library at 75, a new guide to the collections
  • Houghton Library: Who Cares? A 75th Anniversary Symposium exploring why and how curators, conservators, artists and researchers care for special collections
  • Weekly tours, and special events

For updates, check back here, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Current Exhibition

Happening @ Houghton

Special Events


  • Sutton Griggs' Imperium in Imperio (1899) is the earliest example of black science fiction at @HoughtonLib. The novel follows the paths of two educated black men who join an underground African American government plotting to take over Texas. 
AC9.G8767.899i #blackhistorymonth  #houghtonlibrary
  • A rare surviving letter from an enslaved African American woman, Polly Carter, writing to her free son Hamilton in 1861. "I have felt no little uneasiness about you my dear Son, in these troublous times. I can hear of nothing but War & fighting..." MS Am 2322 #BlackHistoryMonth #houghtonlibrary
  • James Hewlett acted numerous roles at the African Grove, a NYC theater run by African Americans from 1821-1828. In addition to Richard III, he was the first black man to play Othello, and acted in original works by Grove founder William Alexander Brown. TCS 44. #blackhistorymonth #houghtonlibrary
  • African American artist Scipio Moorhead was the subject of Phillis Wheatley's 1773 poem, “To S.M. A Young African Painter.” Moorhead likely created the image used as the frontispiece in her book Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. AC7.W5602.773p (A) #blackhistorymonth #houghtonlibrary
  • This year, Houghton marks the centennial anniversary of the 20th Century’s most influential design movement—the Bauhaus. Don’t miss selections from the papers of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, or from the archives of Bauhaus luminaries Lyonel Feininger and Andor Weininger. Curated by @cejacobson and Leslie Morris. On view now through April 6. #bauhaus100 #harvardlibrary
  • Now open! 'Tactile Books: Making Sense of the Ways We Read,' an exhibition showcasing early alternatives to Braille as forms of tactile reading. Photograph of Laura Bridgman reading courtesy of @perkinsvision.

Mounted in conjunction with 'Touch This Page! Making Sense of the Ways We Read' on display @harvard, @northeastern, and the Perkins School for the Blind.

#tactilebooks #perkinsschoolfortheblind #harvardlibrary
  • 'Victorian Visionary: John Ruskin and the Realization of the Ideal' is now open! To mark the bicentenary of his birth, this exhibition explores Ruskin’s vision of a better world through original artwork, autograph letters, association copies, and illustrated books, in addition to other primary resources recently donated by R. Dyke Benjamin, Harvard Class of 1959.

Image: Study of Rocks and Lichens in the Glen below the Montets in the Ascent to Chamonix, 1849 (HEW 6.12.1)

#victorianvisionary #johnruskin #watercolor #houghtonlibrary
  • #Repost @harvardtheatre
On Wednesday, November 28 at 530pm Houghton Library will be hosting a panel on issues relating to cross-cultural and non-traditional casting in theater and film. Join Wesley Morris (New York Times), Ju Yon Kim (Harvard) and Brian Herrera (Princeton) for a conversation presented by @harvard_arts and Houghton Library, inspired by the exhibition 'Treading the Borders: Immigration and the American Stage.' RSVP required via link in our profile.

Image: Anna May Wong from the cover for a 1935 piece of Danish sheet music, MS Thr 1598.

#houghtonlibrary #officeforthearts #annamaywong #crosscasting #harvardtheatrecollection
  • #Repost @harvardtheatre
“Behold the swelling scene!” Next Tuesday, December 4, @hyperionshakespeare takes over @houghtonlib for an evening of scenes from TWELFTH NIGHT, OTHELLO, HENRY IV Part 1, HENRY V, and SIR THOMAS MORE—staged throughout the library’s galleries. One night only! Admission is free; tickets are not required.⁣
RSVP at⁣
Image: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1959. Photo by Angus McBean (MS Thr 581). © Houghton Library, Harvard University⁣
@harvard_arts #bardintheyard #hyperionshakespearecompany #harvard #shakespeare #harvardtheatrecollection #houghtonlibrary #harvardlibrary⁣

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  • Accessing Archives in the 19th-Century Atlantic World
    By Derek Kane O’Leary I have everywhere found Archivists the least competent of human beings to judge of the character or value of historical papers; and if I had not been favored with the aid of higher powers, both in Paris and London, my enquiries would have been to little purpose. There Archivists look upon […]
  • Collections Now Available for Research: December, 2018 and January, 2019
    Houghton Library is pleased to announce the following collections are now described online and accessible in the reading room. Carl Chiarenza papers (MS Am 3177) – processed by Adrien Hilton Nabokov family papers (MS Russ 140) – processed by Magee Lawhorn and Irina Klyagin Harvard Theatre Collection dance scene photographs (TCS 36) – processed by […]
  • The Castañé Collection Series: “One: ‘Miscellaneous Items’”
    By Michael Austin, Manuscript Cataloger, Houghton Library The Castañé collection, donated to Houghton Library in 2015 by Spanish businessman and collector José María Castañé, comprises over 10,000 items documenting the major conflicts of the 20th century involving European powers. Papers, photographs, and realia from the Second World War are most strongly represented, followed by material […]
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