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


  • It’s time for #MoonLandingMondays at #houghtonlibrary
Cyrano De Bergerac’s Selenarchia, or, The Government of the World in the Moon (1659) presented the moon as a Utopian comical inversion of Earth aimed at subverting the human assumption of a central place in the universe—the lunar inhabitants regard the Earth as their moon, and insist it must therefore be uninhabited.
  • It’s Week 2 of #moonlandingmondays at #houghtonlibrary! Today: Galileo’s earliest observations of the moon through a telescope, as published in his groundbreaking work Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger) in 1610.
  • Join us this evening for the opening of Small Steps, Giant Leaps: Apollo at Fifty! If you can’t make it in person, we will be posting exhibition images every Monday during the summer—Moon Landing Mondays! #apollo11 #apollo50th #moonlandingmondays
  • Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (1543), which features the most important diagram in the history of science, announces a radical and much-contested shift in humanity’s place in the cosmos, with the sun replacing the earth as the center of the universe.
#apollo11 #apollo50th #moonlandingmondays
  • 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

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  • On the Shoulders of Giants: Scientific Innovation and the Apollo 11 Mission
    This post is a condensed version of an essay from the catalogue of Houghton Library’s most recent exhibition, Small Steps, Giant Leaps: Apollo 11 at Fifty, which is on view from April 29 ­­– August 3, 2019. Follow us on Instagram, where we will feature images from the exhibition every Monday during its run. In […]
  • 2019 Philip Hofer Prize Winners
    On April 5, 2019, three Harvard students were named winners of the Philip Hofer Prize for Collecting Books or Art. The Hofer Prize was established by Melvin R. Seiden, A.B. ’52, L.L.B. ’55, to encourage student interest in collecting. It is awarded annually to a student or students whose collections of books or works of […]
  • 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 […]
© 2017 The President and Fellows of Harvard College