A black and white photograph of three male cheerleaders (the man in the center holds a megaphone) dated from November 27, 1954.

Photograph of Cheerleading at a Harvard Football Game, November 27, 1954.


The Harvard University Archives supports the University's mission of education and research by preserving and providing access, to the greatest extent possible, Harvard's historical records; gathering an accurate, authentic, and complete record of the life of the University; and promoting the highest standards of management for Harvard's current records. The Harvard University Archives collections range from institutional to personal archives, cross five centuries, and represent materials across all formats, from paper to websites.

This research guide provides an overview to the Harvard University Archives’ collections pertaining to the history of athletics at Harvard. Principally consisting of university records, these collections include photographs, ephemera, scrapbooks, and dating from the mid nineteenth century to the present. The collections listed here are all from the Harvard University Archives, though it is not an exhaustive list of all available resources.

Where possible, this guide provides links to online finding aids to those collections cataloged in HOLLIS for Archival Discovery, the online catalog for materials in Harvard's many special collections and archives. If online finding aids do not exist, the guide provides links to collection-level records from HOLLIS, the online library catalog of the Harvard Library.

Additionally, for researchers interested in the history of Radcliffe College athletics, please note that the Radcliffe College Archives do not reside within the Harvard University Archives but are part of the Schlesinger Library (Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study).

Collections Availability

Many of the University Archives' collections are open and available for use. However, restrictions apply to certain categories of material. For questions about access to specific collections, please contact the Archives reference staff in advance of your visit before placing a request.

  • Harvard University policy restricts access to University administrative records for a period of 50 years from the date of their creation.
  • University records pertaining to individuals, including student and employee records, are closed for a minimum of 80 years. This includes evaluative records pertaining to an individual student’s athletic performance.
  • Archives of student, alumni, and other associated organizations are subject to the same 50- and 80-year restrictions on access.
  • University records in personal archives are subject to the same 50- and 80-year restrictions on access required by University policy.
  • Personal archives of faculty, administrators, students, and alumni/ae may be subject to restrictions established by the donor.
  • Records in general distribution at their time of creation are usually open without restriction. These include announcements, official University publications, calendars, brochures, and publicly circulated reports.

Additionally, “Records [accessions]”, "Papers [accessions]" and "Personal Archives [accessions]" denote collections of materials that have been received (or "accessioned") but have not yet been fully cataloged by the staff of the Harvard University Archives. These materials often require extensive staff review prior to use by researchers.