World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Houghton Library


Houghton Library

Houghton Library
Houghton Library
Country United States of America
Type University library
Established 28
Location Cambridge, Massachusetts
Branch of Harvard University

Houghton Library is the primary repository for rare books and manuscripts at Harvard University. It is part of the Harvard College Library within the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Houghton is located on the south side of Harvard Yard, next to Widener Library.


  • History 1
  • Collections 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Harvard's first special collections library was the Treasure Room of Widener Library. In March 1938, looking to supply Harvard's most valuable collections with more space and improved storage conditions, Harvard College Librarian Keyes DeWitt Metcalf presented the Harvard Corporation with a set of proposals which would eventually lead to the creation of Houghton Library, Lamont Library, and the New England Deposit Library. Funding for Houghton was raised privately, with the largest portion coming from Arthur A. Houghton Jr., in the form of shares of stock in Corning Glass Works. Construction was largely completed by the fall of 1941, and the library opened on February 28, 1942.

Houghton holds collections of papers of Samuel Johnson, Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Margaret Fuller, John Keats, Gore Vidal, Ralph Waldo Emerson and his family, Bronson Alcott and his daughter Louisa May Alcott, along with the papers of other notable transcendentalists, Theodore Roosevelt, T.S. Eliot, E.E. Cummings, Henry James, William James, James Joyce, John Updike and many others.

Houghton also holds the letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who commanded the 54th Massachusetts during the Civil War, and was killed during the assault on Fort Wagner.


The Edison and Newman Room at Houghton

Houghton has five main curatorial departments:

  • Early Books and Manuscripts, which includes a large collection of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts and over 2,500 incunabula.
  • Early Modern Books and Manuscripts, featuring the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson, one of the largest collections of books and manuscripts relating to Samuel Johnson and his circle.
  • Modern Books and Manuscripts, which recently acquired the papers of novelist John Updike.
    • Modern Books & Manuscripts New Acquisitions Blog
  • Printing & Graphic Arts which documents the history and art of book production.
  • The Harvard Theatre Collection covering the history of the performing arts.


  • A Houghton Library Chronicle, 1942–1992. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard College Library. 1992.  
  • Centuries of books & manuscripts : collectors and friends, scholars and librarians build the Harvard College Library : an exhibition on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of Houghton Library, 1942–1992. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard College Library. 1992.  

External links

  • Houghton Library home page
  • Online exhibition: Public Poet, Private Man: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow at 200
  • Online exhibition: Books in Books: Reflections on Reading and Writing in the Middle Ages
  • Online exhibition: Harvard's Lincoln
  • Online exhibition: A Monument More Durable Than Brass: The Donald and Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson
  • Online exhibition: History of the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Collection
  • Online exhibition: "I shall ever be your dearest love": John Keats and Fanny Brawne
  • Houghton Library Blog
  • Department of Modern Books & Manuscripts new acquisitions blog

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.