The Houghton Library is the primary repository for Harvard’s rare books and manuscripts. Collections focus on the study of Western civilization, particularly European and American history and literature. It includes special collections in printing, graphic arts, and theatre (non-circulating).
Materials relating to American, Continental, and English history and literature comprise the bulk of the Library’s collections and include special concentrations in printing, graphic arts, and the theatre. The collections encompass wonderfully diverse holdings such as ostraca, daguerreotypes, and the working papers of living novelists and poets. The Houghton Library Studies series provides a forum for the scholarly analysis of the wide-ranging materials in these collections.
Below is a list of in-print works in this collection, presented in series order or publication order as applicable.Sort by title, author, format, publication date, or price »
In 1992 the Houghton Library celebrated fifty years of preeminence with an exhibition devoted to its riches. This work catalogs an astonishing range of books, manuscripts, and curiosities, including a miniature stage set made for a 1975 Mabou Mines production of Samuel Beckett’s play The Lost Ones; manuscript scores and first editions of works by Fauré, Schumann, and Beethoven; pathbreaking prints of Piranesi and Delacroix; drawings and manuscript items from Edward Lear, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Ben Shahn; primary examples of medieval manuscripts and woodblock printed texts, and early letterpress. Taken together, these items illustrate how a still-young institution becomes a repository of centuries of culture and memory.
This large and sumptuous volume highlights the diversity and value of the Houghton’s collections. It contains reproductions ranging from ancient and medieval manuscripts to the earliest printed books to the works of some of the twentieth-century’s most important and interesting authors, artists, and designers.
After the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century, the art of writing in manuscript took on fresh meaning. Printed manuals for the teaching of handwriting quickly appeared, marketed to a growing literate readership anxious to express humanistic values through fine writing. Philip Hofer, Founding Curator of Printing and Graphic Arts at the Houghton Library, was long fascinated with the printed works of writing masters, and amassed one of the great collections of early penmanship textbooks before his death in 1984. David P. Becker’s catalogue tells the story of this collection while amply illustrating the diversity and expressive power of the arts of the pen.
Calligrapher, stonecutter, illustrator, and type designer, Stephen Harvard’s art and craftsmanship were rooted equally in the history of the book and the natural world. At his untimely death in 1988, he left a body of work that explored his dream of an ideal alphabet, “a perfect, proportionate set of images that shine with a pythagorean light,” a dream that Harvard found as compelling and impossible “as the search for perpetual motion.” Becker’s lovingly edited and sumptuously illustrated catalog bears out Harvard’s conviction that typography, which is at once art and craft, must “strive to satisfy the intelligence and not the intelligentsia.”
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Harvard’s Houghton Library in 1992, Curator of Manuscripts Rodney Dennis asked a stellar cast of critics, historians, and curators to write on items selected from the library’s rich trove of manuscripts. The result was Marks in the Fields, which, in Dennis’s words, combine to highlight “the natural patterns” found in manuscripts of all times and places, patterns that “go on occurring, everywhere and forever astonishing the mind.”
This 1992 volume, compiled by senior Houghton librarians, blends documentary with oral history to look back on the library’s origins, the growth of its collections, and the activities of the staff who made it a home for precious books and original scholarship.
In this exhibition catalogue, Philip Hofer’s successor, Eleanor Garvey, explores the rich legacy he bequeathed to Harvard: extraordinary manuscripts, writing manuals, illustrated books, and examples of fine and unusual printing. The objects of Hofer’s fancy constitute a teaching collection and a scholarly resource of the highest kind.
Daniel Berkely Updike (1860-1941) founded the Merrymount Press in 1893, which quickly came to represent the flowering of the Arts and Crafts movement in American book arts. This catalogue demonstrates the breadth and beauty of the Press’s work, and the standard it set for commercial and fine printing.
This work explores the emergence of modern Greek language, thought, and sensibility reflected in Harvard’s collection of Greek books and manuscripts, ranging from fifteenth century liturgical manuals to Renaissance translations into modern Greek of Homer and other classical authors to the works and papers of twentieth-century Greek literary figures. With copious illustrations of Greek writing, design, and typography, Evro Layton’s catalogue is a visual and intellectual treat for philhellenes.
Among the Houghton’s medieval manuscripts was an exhibition of twelfth century Biblical manuscripts. Light’s catalogue catches the culture of the medieval book at its height, not only in Bibles but in breviaries, lectionaries, commentaries, and works of the Doctors and Fathers of the Church.
In 1987 the Houghton Library observed the 150th anniversary of the death of Aleksandr Pushkin with an exhibition of materials drawn from the extraordinary Russian literature collection assembled by Bayard Kilgour. From this vast trove, curator John E. Malmstad chose books, letters, and manuscripts that illuminated Pushkin’s life, career, and the world of influences and rivals that shaped Russia’s most important literary voice.
As librarian and curator at Brown and later at Harvard, George Parker Winship championed the primacy of the role of rare books in American higher education. As a connoisseur and printer, he played an active role in promulgating enthusiasm for fine printing among collectors and readers in the early twentieth century. This slim, elegant volume collects three talks given on April 17, 1997, at a symposium held in Winship’s memory, and includes an essay by grandson Michael Winship, himself one of America’s preeminent bibliographers.
A catalog of an exhibition at Houghton Library in 1986 of Danish items, ranging from 1514 to 1942, from Houghton’s collection, as well as items on loan from David P. Wheatland, Janet Jurist, and the Boston Public Library.
A collection of 15 essays in honor of James Edward Walsh, Keeper of Printed Books at Houghton Library, on his sixty-fifth birthday. The book includes a tribute by William H. Bond and contributions by Paul Raabe, Philip Hofer, Eckehard Simon, Rodney G. Dennis, Karl S. Guthke, Eugene Weber, Ruth Mortimer, Eleanor M. Garvey, Anne Anninger, Hugh Amory, John Lancaster, Roger E. Stoddard, and many more.
A commemorative exhibition of the one-hundredth anniversary of The Yellow Book, the most important and notorious British magazine in the 1890’s, the first to include market high Culture to mass audiences in England and America through modern advertising strategies. It includes a 40-page essay, illustrations, and a cheklist of the exhibition held at Houghton Library in 1994.
A catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition "John Keats and the Exaltation of a Genius" at Houghton Library in 1995 and of the John Keats Bicentennial Conference. The catalog includes a preface by Richard Wendorf, and essays by Helen Vendler and William H. Bond.
A catalogue of the exhibition at Houghton Library in 1985 of Spanish and Portuguese 16th Century Books in the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, with a apreface by Anne Anninger. The catalogue describes forty exceptional items included in teh exhibition, while the Bibliography offers information on 210 additional Iberian items in houghton collections.
A catalogue of 75 items from the Hyde Collection pertaining to Henry Fielding that were on display at an exhibition at Houghton Library in 1987.
This catalogue documents a collection of 24 black and white reproductions of book covers and brochures illustrated by Toulouse-Latrec housed in the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts at the Houghton Library. This is a sequel to Philip Hofer’s A Bestiary by Toulouse-Lautrec.
The catalog highlights material from the Colletion of Hans Moldenhauer and the Estate of Rudolf Kolisch included in a joint exhibition between Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich) and Houghton Library in 1988. Written in English and German.
A facsimile of a letter from calligrapher, typographer, theoretician, and author, Jan van Krimpen, to Paul Hofer, Curator of the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts at Houghton Library, on certain problems connected with the mechanical cutting of punches.
This is the catalogue of an exhibition, held in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the Class of 1933, featuring items given by Harrison Horblit ’33, one of Houghton Library’s most distinguished donors. The exhibition includes materials covering Manuscripts and the Cradle of Printing, Early Arithmetics, Early English Printing, the Scientific Renaissance, Printing and Bibliography, Interesting Bindings, and Early Photography.
A catalogue of music manuscripts from the 14th to the 20th centuries in the Houghton Library and the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library. Includes descriptions of works by Bach, Liszt, Mahler, Mozart, Purcell, Schoenberg, Schubert, Strauss, Wagner, and many others.
This facsimile edition features Betti’s elaborate title-page identifying the figures to follow, and twenty-four leaves of plates, each with a different letter of the alphabet, all reproduced at original size.
A facsimile of Giambattista Bodoni’s first type specimen, “Fregi e Majuscole” of 1771, two copies of which were given to the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts of the Houghton Library by William Bentinck-Smith, Class of 1937.
A catalog of an exhibition at the Houghton Library in 1987 of a selection of John Updike manuscripts, illustrating how text changes from manuscript to proof to revised edition.
A catalogue of the exhibition at the Hougton Library and at the Harvard Law School Library in 1989 celebrating the 350th anniversary of the first printing in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Each section of the catalogue focuses on a single book: The Bay Psalms Book, the Eliot Indian Bible, and The Laws and Liberties of Massachusetts.
An edition of fragments of Henry Fielding’s unpublished treatise on eighteenth-century law, which were displayed at an exhibition at Houghton Library in 1987, including fragments from Harvard, Yale, and the Hyde Collection, now also at Harvard.
This book records the proceedings of a symposium held in conjunction with the 1988 exhibition of the Philip Hofer bequest to the Department of Printing and Graphic Arts at Houghton Library. Contributors include William H. Bond, Charles Ryskamp, Arthur Vershbow, William Bentinck-Smith, and Lucien Goldschmidt. Their recollections of one of Harvard College Library’s most generous donors provide a fascinating portrait of one of America’s great bibliophiles.
Decorated Book Papers, first published in 1942, remains one of the standard works on its subject. Rosamond Loring, a collector and maker of decorated papers, explores the extensive history and use of decorated papers in the book arts. Appendices are devoted to the art of marbling, the preparation of paste papers, and a listing of some early makers of decorated paper.
Rosamond Loring, author of Decorated Book Papers, was also a skilled maker of marbled and paste papers. Her recipe book has been preserved in the Rosamond B. Loring Collection of Decorated Papers at Houghton Library, Harvard University. This facsimile edition is accompanied by an essay by Sidney E. Berger commenting on the recipes and analyzing Loring’s materials and techniques.
A pair of leaves recently acquired by Houghton Library presents an opportunity to examine the illuminated sequence composed in honor of John the Evangelist. The richly decorated fragments promise to transform our understanding of the special place of Christ’s “beloved disciple” in 14th-century art, liturgy, theology, and mysticism.
This book brings into print editions, translations, and commentaries for more than two dozen unique poems (in Latin) from the late eleventh and early twelfth century, preserved in Houghton Library’s anthology known as MS Lat 300. This book offers unparalleled access to the anthology, previously unavailable in English.
This collection of ten essays constitutes the proceedings of a two-day conference held at Harvard in October 2007. The conference focused on three medieval manuscripts of Ambrosian chant owned by Houghton Library. The generously illustrated essays explore the manuscripts as physical objects and place them in their urban and historical contexts, as well as in the musical and ecclesiastical context of Milan, Italy, and medieval Europe.
For the second catalogue of materials from the John Milton and Ruth Neils Ward Collection of the Harvard Theatre Collection, Professor Ward has selected over 2,100 items relating to Italian ballet from the seventeenth through the twentieth century. Italian Ballet 1637-1977 includes published materials (printed scores, librettos, treatises on ballet) as well as hundreds of manuscript scores (many autograph), letters, contracts, choreographic notes, and costume and set designs. Like its predecessor The King’s Theatre Collection, Italian Ballet 1637-1977 was designed to be a useful scholarly resource, with descriptive citations for each ballet and detailed indexes for titles, choreographers, composers, and theaters. Arranged chronologically, Italian Ballet 1637-1977 allows the researcher to follow the development of Italian ballet from unnamed comic dances performed between the acts of eighteenth-century opera to the large-scale nineteenth-century ballets choreographed by Antonio Pallerini and Luigi Manzotti. The catalogue is meant not only as a reference to the collection at Harvard, but also as an entryway for scholars to delve into this unexplored area of musicology and dance history.
The John Milton and Ruth Neils Ward Collection of the Harvard Theatre Collection is comprised of thousands of books, scores, librettos, playbills, illustrations, and ephemera relating to public performances that incorporate music and dance in an essential way. With over 1,600 entries and 40 color illustrations, this volume provides a window into the historical significance of the King’s Theatre to the cultural life of London and abroad.
To this day Samuel Johnson (1709–1784) remains a larger than life figure, one whose influence on his time was as monumental as his legacy is enduring. To commemorate the tercentenary of the birth of Johnson, Harvard University’s Houghton Library presents A Monument More Durable Than Brass, an exhibition catalogue of items drawn from the Donald & Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson, bequeathed to the library in 2004 by Mary Hyde Eccles.
With over 1,400 entries and 33 illustrations, this volume provides a window into the historical significance of the King’s Theatre to the cultural life of London and abroad, and will appeal to musicologists, historians, theater scholars, and librarians interested in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century opera and ballet.
The late James E. Walsh’s pioneering catalogue of the Harvard collection of fifteenth-century printed books was published in five volumes. The First Supplement describes 202 new incunabula at Harvard: 67 complete or nearly complete copies and 135 single leaves or fragments, representing a total of 173 editions, including 110 not in Walsh’s original five volumes. The apparatus follows the Walsh model, and the book is designed to be used both on its own and in conjunction with the five original volumes.
This checklist of Thomas Hollis’s gifts to Harvard College Library documents the generosity and the motives of one of the earliest and one of the greatest donors to Harvard University. Thomas Hollis and his books were the subject of William Bond’s 1982 Sandars Lectures in Bibliography at Cambridge University.
In 1984, Roger Stoddard curated "an exhibition devoted to those mysterious traces left in books by printers, binders, booksellers, librarians, and collectors." The resulting catalogue, Marks in Books, Illustrated and Explained, is cherished by curators, collectors, and scholars for the insight it offers into the making and the use of books. With sumptuous illustrations and prose at once pithy and polemical, Stoddard describes the glosses, cancels, catchwords, and signature marks that shed light on both printer’s craft and author’s art.
Tenniel’s Alice explores the work of Sir John Tenniel, the artist who furnished illustrations for the first editions of Louis Carroll’s best-known works. Although Tenniel and Carroll parted ways after publication of Through the Looking-Glass, the artist’s designs fixed in the public’s mind images of Carroll’s characters that thrive down to the present day.
A ledger book of drawings by Lakota Sioux warriors found in 1876 on the Little Bighorn battlefield offers a rare first-person Native American record of events that likely occurred in 1866–1868 during Red Cloud’s War. This color facsimile edition uncovers the origins, ownership, and cultural and historical significance of this unique artifact.