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


  • House in the Pines, a private school for girls, was established by Gertrude E. Cornish in Norton, Massachusetts in 1911.
In our collection, seventeen photographs depict a 1914 all-female production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Harvard Theatre Collection: MS Thr 1852
#womenshistorymonth #houghtonlibrary
  • Set in World War II-era Harlem, this novel about a single mother became the first novel by an African-American woman to sell more than a million copies — all told, it sold more than 1.5 million.

Ann Perry, The Street, 1946.

Houghton Library: PS3531.E933 S78 1946 
  • Often throughout history we have encountered the lives of women because of the artifacts left by others. Helen Ruthven Waterston (1841-1858) was 17 when she died in Naples. Her copy of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage came to the library’s Byron collection in 2001.  Houghton Library: 2001B-3
  • The Houghton Library building will close for renovation at 5PM on Friday, August 9, 2019. Researchers can access the Library’s collections through an interim reading room in Widener Library beginning Monday, August 26th. For project updates, visit the Houghton Renovation website at #houghtonreno #houghtonlibrary
  • Journalist, novelist, and member of the Society for Psychical Research, Alice Drew-Smith, here relates her experience of seeing the visual forms of souls. Published anonymously in 1890, Soul Shapes contains essays on the types of souls, accompanied by four hand-colored diagrams. Fellow Newnham College graduate Eleanor Sidgwick was the first woman to head the SPR, a position earlier held by Harvard psychologist and philosopher William James.
Houghton Library: EC9 D5107 890s
  • The Boston Globe calls our exhibit The Bauhaus at Home & Abroad, “small, but surprisingly charming.” Come see the charm for yourself now through the end of May.
  • Zora Neale Hurston presented this copy of her controversial 1942 autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road, with the inscription "To Charlotte M. Krull, A Kindred Soul—With deep admiration, Zora Neale Hurston." Krull, who heavily annotated the volume in pencil, led a discussion on the book at the Tacoma, Washington Woman's Study Club on May 8, 1944. AC9.H9465.942d
  • "With profound admiration respect and appreciation for your contribution toward understanding...and toward the fulfillment of the dream." Copy of "My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr." inscribed by Coretta Scott King to James Baldwin AC95.B3539.Zz969k #BlackHistoryMonth
  • The Black Panther Party adopted a broad platform, including civic engagement and social services. While white media often focuses on their militant policies, this flier from our collection of Panther ephemera showcases their wider activity. AC95.B5665.969c (65) #blackhistorymonth

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RSS Houghton Library Blog

  • The Castañé Collection Series: “Two: Officer’s Photo Album”
    By Michael Austin, Manuscript Cataloger, Houghton Library In my first post on Houghton Library’s holdings from the Castañé collection of documents and objects relating to European conflicts of the 20th century, I focused on two particularly poignant items: a ration card issued to a young Polish girl early in the Second World War and an […]
  • All Work but Some Play: Jaret Berman, Houghton Library, and the School-to-Work Program
    By Vicki Denby, Manuscript End Processor, Houghton Library For the sixth consecutive year, Houghton Library had the opportunity to hire a paid intern from the Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School (CRLS) to learn about our work by helping with collections end-processing, which among other activities includes labeling and housing items. Through the School-to-Work program, […]
  • 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 […]
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