Contact Houghton Library's reference staff.

Hours and Location

Houghton Library Reading Room hours and location.




Searching for Materials

Books and manuscripts relating to the Transcendalism movement can be found using HOLLIS or HOLLIS for Archival Discovery, Harvard's online catalog systems.  Tips for searching these catalogs can be found below. 

Please be sure to contact reference staff with any questions. 

Tips for Searching in HOLLIS

HOLLIS is Harvard's online library catalog and is a good place to begin your research into Transcendentalism material held at Houghton Library.

To search for material using HOLLIS, follow the steps below:

  • Navigate to the HOLLIS homepage.
  • Select 'ADVANCED SEARCH', located at the top of the screen.
  • Select 'Library Catalog' and limit the 'Search Scope' to 'Houghton Library'. 
  • Search desired topic using keywords, titles, authors, etc. 
  • Search scope can be further narrowed by selecting specific 'Resource Types' from the drop-down menu.


The following guide offers further tips for searching using HOLLIS. 

Tips for Searching in HOLLIS for Archival Discovery

HOLLIS for Archival Discovery is Harvard's search platform for finding aids and collection guides.  It is specifically designed for finding special collections and archival material.   

To search for material using HOLLIS for Archival Discovery, follow the steps below:

  • Using the main search box, enter words or phrases relating to your research topic.
  • Refine results by using hte fields below the text box to limit by type of record (all records, collections, digital materials), finding aid field (title, creator, notes, identifier) and date.

The following guide offers more tips for searching using HOLLIS for Archival Discovery:

The following guide offers help navigating finding aids:


Searching Personal Libraries

Houghton holds a number of books that were once part of the personal libraries of members of the Transcendentalism movement.  See below for tips on how to search for such material.

HOLLIS Keyword Search

  • Navigate to HOLLIS and select 'Advanced Search'.
  • Select 'Library Catalog' and limit the Search Scope to 'Houghton'.
  • Enter the desired author's name followed by "former owner". Ex. Fuller, Margaret former owner.
  • Click Search.


Ralph Waldo Emerson's Library 

To find books that were once a part of Emerson's personal library, follow the steps below:

  • Navigate to HOLLIS and choose the STARTS WITH/BROWSE option, found near the top of the screen.
  • Select "Call number- Other" from the drop down menu.
  • Type AC85.Em345.Z
  • Click the search button (magnifying glass icon)
  • See a sample search.

The following book was not part of Emerson's library, but is a useful resource:

  • Emerson's Library 
    • A catalog of Emerson's personal library based on M.C. Haviland's card 

Amos Bronson Alcott's Library

The Alcott Family had an extensive library. To find books that were once a part of the Alcott's personal library, follow the steps below:

Searching Subject Headings

Subject headings, or controlled vocabulary used to represent an idea or topic, are a great tool to use when researching a topic. You can search for specific subject headings or you can use subject headings listed within a an item's HOLLIS record to find similar materials and collections.

Searching Using Subject Headings

To HOLLIS using subject headings, follow the steps listed below:

  • Navigate to HOLLIS and choose ADVANCED SEARCH, located at the top of the screen.
  • Select 'Library Catalog' and limit the Search Scope to 'Houghton Library'.
  • Select 'Subject' from the drop-down menu labeled 'Keywords Anywhere'.
  • Enter the desired subject heading and click 'Search'.

Examples of subject headings relating to Transcendentalism can be found below:

  • Transcendentalism (New England).
  • American Literature -- 19th century.
  • Massachusetts -- Social life and customs -- 19th century.
  • Concord (Mass.) -- Intellectual life -- 19th century.

Searching Using Subject Headings within a HOLLIS Record

Relevant subject headings are listed within each item's HOLLIS record.  These subject headings are linked to searches that will show other collections relating to the same topic.  Following the linked subject headings is a good way to discover new material.