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


  • We’re all getting ready, in our own way, for @frankenreads at Houghton Library. Come today, Oct 31st, 9am-4pm to hear a collaborative reading of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in the Edison and Newman Room. Holiday treats for all! It’s just the right amount of scary. Stop by anytime. #frankenstein200 #harvardlibrary #frankenreads #frankenweek #maryshelley #reading #halloween
  • #Repost @r.edmonde
Even Maria Montessori gets into the legacy of Shelley’s Frankenstein, courtesy of teenage Italians writing on money in the 1990’s before the Lira was discontinued. My creator took many graffitied banknotes out of circulation to use in art projects like the graphic novel r.ed engender.ed - A Conical Chronicle, on exhibit during Frankenweek at Harvard University. .
#italian #money #graffiti #lira #tagging #taggers #soldi #currency #mariamontessori #montessori #dj #music #frankenstein #maryshelley #watercolor #ephemera #painting #visualart #angelalorenz #visualartist #harvard #harvarduniversity #redmonde #cartooncharacter #fabricsculpture #textilesculpture #disco #discomusic #dj
  • Our colleagues @dumbartonoaks have a fascinating new exhibition called "Juggling the Middle Ages," which traces the history of a medieval tale known often as 'Le Jongleur de Notre Dame' or 'Our Lady’s Tumbler.' The tale was popularized for modern audiences in 1890 via a short story by Anatole France. This image is from an illustrated book made by the Swiss artist Fritz Bühler, who hand-painted fifty copies of France's story as a Christmas present in 1955. #juggler #jugglingthemiddleages #dumbartonoaks #anatolefrance #fritzbuhler #houghtonliibrary
  • Celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein during Frankenweek, October 22-31! Harvard is hosting a symposium, a marathon @frankenreads, an electricity show—and an exhibition exploring how nineteenth-century playwrights transformed Mary Shelley’s original vision and set a pattern for future adaptations that that forever altered popular culture.⁣
For more info, visit “Stage Fright: Or the Fate of Frankenstein is on view until December 18 at Houghton Library.⁣
#frankenstein200 #frankenweek #frankenweekatharvard #frankenreads #frankenstein #stagefright #halloween2018 #harvardtheatrecollection #houghtonlibrary #harvardlibrary⁣
  • Tomorrow at 1230pm, @harvardtheatre curator Matthew Wittmann will be giving a tour (free and open to the public) of our current exhibition "Treading the Borders: Immigration and the American Stage." Among the many more recent materials on display is this flyer for an 1981 production @panasianrep! #yellowismyfavoritecolor #panasianrep #banana #popcorn #houghtonlibrary #treadingtheborders #harvardtheatrecollection
  • 'The Circus' is coming to PBS (October 8 & 9) in the form of a four-hour mini-series from @americanexperiencepbs that explores the colorful history of America’s grandest entertainment. Part I airs tonight so please check local listings for the time in your neck of the woods. The film features a host of images drawn from the excellent assortment of antiquarian circus material in the Harvard Theatre Collection. There’s also commentary from @harvardtheatre curator and erstwhile circus historian Matthew Wittmann.

Image: John Bill Ricketts (and an apprentice) doing a 'Flying Mercury' act, ca. 1796.

#circus #americanexperience #pbs #houghtonlibrary #harvardtheatrecollection to
  • Join us tomorrow--Wednesday, September 26--at 530pm for a special event to celebrate the launch of Professor Stephen Greenblatt's new HarvardX course "Othello's Story." The course looks at the ways in which Shakespeare’s characters tell stories within the play––about themselves, to themselves, and to each other–and considers, too, how actors, directors, composers, and other artists tell stories through Othello in performance. @harvard's own Hyperion Shakespeare Company will be on hand!

Paul Robeson fairly smoldering as Othello, 1944.

#othello #houghtonlibrary #harvardtheatrecollection #harvardx
  • Mary Anne Duff (née Dyke) was a Dublin-born dancer and actress who played an important role in the early history of the American theater. She made her debut in 1811 at the Boston Theatre at the tender age of sixteen and went on to become one of the first stars of the American stage. While playing Hermione opposite Edmund Kean’s Orestes in 1821, she was famously asked to play with less intensity so as not to overshadow his performance! 
Duff is one of many immigrant performers featured in our new exhibition "Treading the Borders: Immigration and the American Stage," which is now open and runs through December 15.

#treadingtheborders #maryanneduff #edmundkean #harvardtheatrecollection #houghtonlibrary
  • Much of the richness and vitality of the performing arts in the United States derives from creative talent originating elsewhere. This exhibition explores how successive waves of immigration transformed the American stage, highlighting the virtuosity and resilience of a diverse group of actors, artists, and entertainers from the colonial era to the present day. 
Zhan Shichai aka 'Chang the Chinese Giant,' 1884.

#treadingtheborders #immigration #houghtonlibrary #harvardtheatrecollection

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RSS Houghton Library Blog

  • What’s in a Photograph? A Photograph by Any Other Name is Still a Photograph
    By Lillianne Keaney, Horblit Project Cataloger, Houghton Library The term “photograph” is actually quite broad. It encompasses black and white photographs (gelatin silver prints), chromogenic color prints, albumen prints, carbon prints, collodion prints, salted paper prints, digital photographs, palladium prints, daguerreotypes, and many others that are produced using different photographic processes (check out Graphics Atlas […]
  • Collections Now Available for Research: September & October, 2018
    Houghton Library is pleased to announce the following collections are now described online and accessible in the reading room. Ruthanna Boris Papers, 1929-2003 (MS Thr 1850) – processed by Adrien Hilton Collection of French Booksellers’ Catalogs and Prospectuses circa 1769-1799 (MS Fr 693) – processed by Magee Lawhorn Harvard Theatre Collection Photographic Postcards of Groups and […]
  • r.ed in residence
    By Dale Stinchcomb, Assistant Curator of the Harvard Theatre Collection Frankenweek is in full swing and Houghton is participating in a Harvard-wide celebration of all things Franken-Shelley. A film series, an exhibition, and a marathon reading are just a few of the activities planned to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein. Mary Shelley’s influence […]
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