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.


  • The Houghton75 podcast has been launched! Find it on iTunes, SoundCloud, and on the podcast menu on the link in our profile.

Every week, we will feature a different faculty member at Harvard speaking about a favorite item in the collection, and how it relates to their research and teaching. We also hand-selected interesting music to accompany each episode.

Listen and subscribe today!

#librariesofinstagram #houghtonlibrary #podcast #faculty #teaching #rarebooks #manuscripts #interview #houghton75 #audio
  • There is a long history of Valentine's verses being composed and sent to one's beloved. Here is the end of a flowery one from 1843. It is part of Houghton's autograph collection, and is presumed to be by John Palfrey (1796-1881). [Autograph File (Palfrey, John Gorham)]⠀
Lady fair and lady bright - ⠀
Eyes of beauty sparkling light,⠀
Lady from the realms above⠀
When all is harmony and love,⠀
Lady of a heavenly birth⠀
Too much alas! for this dull earth⠀
Lady fair, be, lady, mine⠀
Take this for your Valentine.⠀
February 14, 1843⠀
#valentinesday #palfrey #poetry #verse #1843 #19thcentury #modern #autograph #houghtonlibrary #librariesofinstagram⠀
  • We have a soft spot for circular and spherical diagrams in astronomical manuscripts. So here's one for #sciencesaturday from a French manuscript from ca. 1600 titled "Abregé cosmographique : divisé en deux livres." [MS Fr 122]⠀
This part seems to be about constructing an astrolabe, that scientific instrument common in the Middle Ages and Renaissance as a means to identify stars, and use them to measure one's latitude (or local time, knowing the latitude).⠀
#science #diagram #astrolabe #astronomy #manuscript #french #1600 #librariesofinstagram #houghtonlibrary #harvardlibrary #specialcollections #rarebooks #earlymodern
  • Did you know Houghton had a printing room in Lamont Library? Venture down to the lowest level (D) of Lamont, and you can peek in the cage and see cases of type, ink balls, a press, and other fun printing stuff.⠀
Here, curator of Printing and Graphic Arts, Hope Mayo, is telling a number of first year students about the wonders of printing with metal type on a special "behind the scenes" tour last week.⠀
Hope on the printing room: "The foundation of the present Houghton Library Printing Room dates from 1938, when Philip Hofer (Harvard BA 1921, MFA 1929) came back to Harvard with the intention of founding a Printing and Graphic Arts Collection (now part of Houghton Library). For this he not only acquired books and manuscripts that would enable students to study great examples of printing and illustration.  He also thought that students should understand how these artifacts were made, and, to this end, acquired the iron hand press, type, and other equipment needed for setting up a printing shop. In the years since then more equipment has been added to the room, and it has been used in various contexts, including  the teaching of descriptive bibliography in the 1950s and 1960s and the current series of workshops that are offered on request."⠀
#letterpressprinting #printing #moveabletype #uppercase #lowercase #houghtonlibrary #lamontlibrary #harvardlibrary #hiddentreasures #bookarts #harvard2020 #behindthescenes #handpress #typetuesday
  • A little trailer for our exhibition "HIST 75H: A Masterclass on Houghton Library" (through Apr 22, 2017)

Check it out, and then see more about it and other 75th anniversary activities through the link in our profile.

#harvard #faculty #exhibition #houghtonlibrary #houghton75 #facultychoice #anniversary #75years #librariesofinstagram #harvardlibrary #manuscript #rarebooks #specialcollections
  • Another moment in the reading room that we couldn't pass by. ⠀
All six wood blocks for a large scale print known as Die Kunst dess Buchhaltens [An allegory of commerce] were set up for consultation. This picture actually gets a piece of all of them, if you can find the edges.⠀
The holes in the foreground where you can see the table below would have contained metal letterpress type to print words separate from those carved into the wood block. ⠀
This was used for printing for the first time by Michael Manger in Augsburg in 1585.⠀
#woodblock #printing #pandga #realia #printshop #allegory #commerce #broadside #16thcentury #readingroom #librariesofinstagram #harvardlibrary #houghtonlibrary #germany #augsburg #antwerp
  • If you have ever been to Houghton, and on a Houghton Library Tour (every Friday at 2pm!), you might have seen this lovely portrait of Emily Dickinson and her siblings hanging in the Dickinson Room (painted by Otis Bullard, ca. 1840).⠀
Now, you can see it for the first time outside of Houghton!⠀
If you are in or near New York City, the portrait can be viewed @themorganlibrary in the exhibition "I’m Nobody! Who are you? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson." The exhibition opens today and can visited through May 21, 2017.⠀
#emilydickinson #dickinson #painting #oilpainting #1840 #19thcentury #modern #exhibition #loan #ontheroad #librariesofinstagram #poetry #pressedflowers #becauseicouldnotstopfordeath #hopeisathingwithfeathers
  • It's not every day we have two double elephant folios of The Birds of America in the reading room at one time. We couldn't miss this opportunity to post this.⠀
(Staff member in picture for scale)⠀
The Birds of America was published between 1827 and 1838 from original drawings by John James Audubon, which can also be consulted at Houghton.⠀
[AC8.Au292.827b and HEW] ⠀
#huge #bigbooks #birdsofamerica #audubon #johnjamesaudubon #rarebooks #houghtonlibrary #readingroom #modern #19thcentury #birds #ornithology
  • This is one of the earliest extant recordings by Ezra Pound, made during the author’s pre-war visit to Harvard University on May 17, 1939. ⠀
Like many lacquer discs, Pound’s recording has suffered from delamination: the separation of its lacquer coating and aluminum support. Fortunately, through the new stylus-less technology IRENE, a digital transfer from the original lacquer format was made in 2014. (whew!)⠀
[MS Am 3065]⠀
Houghton's 75th anniversary celebrations continue with another exhibition!⠀
Collecting at Houghton Now⠀
January 17 – March 30, 2017, Amy Lowell Gallery⠀
Houghton Library opened its doors for research 75 years ago. Built to house 125,000 rare books accumulated over the centuries by Harvard, within its first year Houghton acquired more than 8,000 printed books in addition to manuscripts and autograph letters.⠀
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.⠀
Multiple factors influence curatorial choices in building Houghton’s holdings, including changing curricular demands and an increasingly diverse student body; new and emerging trends in scholarship; once-in-a-lifetime acquisition opportunities and available funds; collaborations with faculty and other Harvard libraries, and the generosity of donors.⠀
This exhibition introduces you to Houghton’s curators, showcases some of their recent acquisitions, and reveals their plans for the future of the collections. ⠀
#ezrapound #delamination #record #lp #poetry #woodberrypoetryroom #exhibition #collecting #special collections #houghtonlibrary #curators #acquisitions #houghton75⠀

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  • Open House 75: Houghton Library Staff Select
    The 75th anniversary of Houghton Library has provided an occasion to reflect on the library’s founding and history, to connect with friends and supporters old and new, and to consider the challenges and opportunities that will shape our future.   Throughout our 75th year, we have carried out a series of events, publications, and other […]
  • Julian I. Edison in Memoriam
    Houghton Library is saddened to learn that Julian I. Edison (AB ’51, MBA ’53) of St. Louis, Missouri, passed away on Monday, May 8, 2017. With Mr. Edison’s death, both Houghton and Harvard University have lost one of their most distinguished and generous supporters. Julian was the former CEO and chairman of Edison Brothers Stores, […]
  • New on OASIS in May
    Four finding aids for newly cataloged collections have been added to the OASIS database this month: Processed by Michael Austin: José María Castañé Collection of Photographs by Agustí Centelles, circa 1936-1939 (MS Span 181)   Minimally Processed by Adrien Hilton: George Antheil Papers, circa 1950-1953 (MS Thr 1601)   Processed by Irina Klyagin: Elena Bonner […]
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