This guide is selective and intended as a point of departure for research in the history of science.
Other general guides
- For an introductory guide: Library Research Guide: History of Science: Introduction
- Finding Primary Sources Online offers methods for finding digital libraries and digital collections on the open Web and for finding Digital Libraries/Collections by Region or Language.
- Online Primary Source Collections for the History of Science lists digital collections at Harvard and beyond by topic
- Online Primary Source Collections for History lists digital collections at Harvard and beyond by topic
- This guide lists only history of science sources. General historical sources are listed in Library Research Guide for History.
- More specialized sources are available in Specialized Resources in the History of Science
Please feel free to email with questions. We can make an appointment for you to come in, and we can talk at length about your project.
Getting What You Need
How can you get your hands/eyes on material?
This list includes Harvard Library services and selected non-Harvard resources that may be particularly helpful during the pandemic. Harvard Library has so many resources that there is no one perfect way to get at all materials, or to see if we have access, but we've listed the best options for most situations.
HOLLIS- the center of the Library ecosystem. This is often be the best first step to see if we have something. Many items are readily available through HOLLIS by clicking on "Online Access" or opening the listing and scrolling down to the "Get it" section. Check the HOLLIS section of this guide.
Browser Plugins for Library Access- Harvard Bookmark and Lean Library plugins can help you find out if we have access to books and articles online-- so you don't always have to go to HOLLIS when you want to know if we have a certain item.
Some of the below options will be offered in HOLLIS; others you may have to seek if you've checked there and haven't found what you needed.
HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service- full text books online, some available nowhere else. (Not to be confused with traditional HathiTrust. ETAS explained here https://www.hathitrust.org/ETAS-Description.) Expected to continue as long as our campus is mostly virtual. Note that:
- Make sure you're logged in once at the HathiTrust site (look in the upper right corner)
- Periodicals available via HathiTrust ETAS are not always linked from HOLLIS, so look them up in the HathiTrust Catalog Search.
- The full runs of journals available in HathiTrust will be available even where Harvard only has a partial run
- When searching from the HathiTrust site, do not select View Online Only. That applies to the HathiTrust site at large, not to the ETAS materials, and would omit the Temporary Access material in your results.
- No downloading is available for the Temporary Access material. You can only view it online because it's not an official program through the publisher; it's meant to replace no access to some of the millions of books currently "trapped" in libraries during the pandemic.
Non-Harvard sources for online books:
- Digital Libraries like Internet Archive
Public libraries: while they don't have everything carried by a research library, there is more overlap than you might expect. They're often a good source of ebooks, too- so if we don't have something or only one of us can read it at a time it might be available through your public library, often in an easier-to-read format. Check their website for more information.
- Boston Public Library has said they will honor Harvard email addresses during the pandemic even for students who aren't living in the neighborhood as usual. They have books, newspapers, and plenty more.
If you can't get to it online:
- Scan & Deliver- request pdfs of articles and book chapters we have in print (from the HOLLIS listing).
- Interlibrary Loan request materials from other libraries (log in on the ILL page)
- BorrowDirect- the fastest way to get books, music scores, some DVD and video, that we don't have in the library.
Purchase Request- they're prioritizing ebooks right now; specify if you hope to pick up print
Digitization of Special Collection Materials- at Harvard and elsewhere
- From Harvard's collections: look for "View in Library" in HOLLIS (to place a scanning request) or contact the repository directly. Most of our larger archival collections are able to provide scans.
- Beyond Harvard: Some non-Harvard repositories may be willing and able to scan material (usually for a fee) during the pandemic. Our Interlibrary Loan department will place the request and help with the cost (there is a cap).
- Contact the other repository to see what their current services. If they're able to help, get a price estimate for the material you need and the exact details (like Box 77 folder 4- this is available in Finding Aids)
- Log in to ILL. On the left side it says "Make a Request." Open that and choose "Request Article."
- Fill in what you can (put in N/A if the field is inapplicable) with the price and other information in the Comments box.
- This will get the process going and ILL will get back to you if they need more information or to discuss the price.
For those on campus/in the area: Library Pickup (make an appointment to pick up books at Lamont Library) and BorrowDirect (the fastest way to get a book Harvard doesn't have on the shelf), but not available for all books.
The Library has begun a Book Mailing Service for up to 10 books at one time via USPS. Users are limited to 100 books in total. Only for books unavailable digitally. Local people should still use Lamont Pick-up. Request via the Book Mailing Request Form rather than HOLLIS.
Remote Microfilm Viewing
A system for remote viewing of microfilm is available. You make an appointment, and a Widener staff member loads the reels into the machine, which you can access remotely via your home computer. You may view up to three reels per hour. Request form to remotely view microfilm.
You can often get microfilm via Interlibrary Loan which you can view remotely.
Options beyond Harvard:
Visit a Library near You
Other institutions: Most research libraries are still operating at limited capacity and admitting (if anyone) only specific groups (like students invited to be on campus).
Public libraries: while they don't have everything carried by a research library, there is more overlap than you might expect. Check with your local library to see what the current possibilities are for access. Even if they aren't admitting visitors right now they may have book pickup, interlibrary loan services, and online databases.
Search tips: WorldCat (the OCLC Union Catalog) which includes catalog records from over 70,000 libraries worldwide but largely U.S. Includes books, periodicals, archives and manuscripts, maps, videotapes, computer readable files, etc. Harvard's subscribed version offers the most powerful search (use Advanced search), but the public version allows you to enter your zip code and find nearby libraries holding a specified book (first find a listing for the item you have in mind. From there you can see what libraries report having it).
Visit an Archival Collection near You
Most libraries and archives are still operating at limited capacity and may be admitting a limited number of people (like students invited to campus for the semester), if anyone. It's always important to call ahead but during the pandemic, check their website or reach out to the archive to find out what services are available. The guides below may help you investigate the options and/or plan for future trips.
Our Library Research Guide for Finding Manuscripts and Archival Collections guide gives instructions for finding archives and manuscripts outside of Harvard. Methods for limiting by region, where available, are given for the archive and manuscript databases. Some archives have digitized, usually small, selected portions of their collections. These are often accessed through collection finding aids, sometimes through digital collections.
Our Research Travel Checklist guide offers advice on visiting non-Harvard archives.
Borrow Direct is back! If a book is checked out or not owned by Harvard, you can probably get it within 1-4 days via Borrow Direct. This is quicker than recalling it (hitting the Request link) from the person who has it. Largely for books, but some DVDs, microfilm and other formats are available. The Borrow Direct catalog can be tricky to search. Omlt subtitles in searched, and use the main title and the author's last name. Try several searched to be sure.
Digitization of Special Collections materials
Several special collections, including Harvard Archives, Houghton and Schlesinger, are planning to digitize, where possible, material needed by students and researchers as well as for Fall courses. If you have requests, please submit them as soon as possible. Requests will be filled as far as available time and personnel allow. Contact the repository directly with requests.
Our document delivery service can scan portions of materials in our physical collections- an article in a journal; a chapter in a book, up to about 30 pages. When you make a request, we will do our best to find a digital version for you. Please submit your request using the Scan & Deliver link in the HOLLIS entry, regardless of the library location, and we’ll let you know if it’s available. Requests for scans of material in other institutions will be filled when possible.
Only books not available through HathiTrust Temporary Access can be requested for Lamont pick up.
Imaging Services staff are now (6/29) working again in Widener. If a patron is seeking a reproduction s/he should submit a request, which will trigger a reply from the owning repository. https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/imagingcustomerservice/requesting-reproductions?admin_panel=1&login=1
Old News (6/29/20)
Library book pickup
The first phase of reopening the Library begins on June 30. Books from the Harvard Depository, Lamont and Widener (only) can be requested via HOLLIS and picked up in the vestibule in Lamont between the two sets of doors at the main entrance. When you get the hold pickup notice there will be a link to LibCal. In LibCal you will choose a time slot to do the pickup. No one can pick up a book without having scheduled a pickup time.
Books that were on hold the day we shut the doors are still on hold. If you want a held book, contact Access: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Digitization of Special Collections materials
Several special collections, including Harvard Archives, Houghton and Schlesinger, are planning to digitize, where possible, material needed for Fall courses. If you have requests, please submit them as soon as possible. Requests will be filled as far as available time and personnel allow. Contact the repository directly with requests.
HathiTrust Emergency Access (explained here https://www.hathitrust.org/ETAS-Description) is expected to continue as long as library service is limited. Note that:
--Double login in (both HOLLIS and HathiTrust) is no longer required. Just log in to HOLLIS when you begin.
--The full runs of journals available in HathiTrust will be available even where Harvard only has a partial run
--When searching in HathiTrust, do not select View Online Only. Selecting it will omit the Temporary Access material in your results.
--No downloading is available for the Temporary Access material
Data Visualization workshops
The schedule for summer workshops in data visualization is available https://library.harvard.edu/services-tools/visualization-support.
Online Primary Sources
We have created a new page on the History guide on Finding Primary Sources Online: https://guides.library.harvard.edu/history/digital Any comments or suggestions welcome.
New library guides available
*FAS Course Support from the Library: A Guide for Faculty https://guides.library.harvard.edu/FAScoursesupport
*Copyright Considerations for the Harvard Community in Shifting Courses from In-Person to Online During the COVID-19 Crisis https://guides.library.harvard.edu/CopyrightCOVID
*Using Published Video in Online Courses https://guides.library.harvard.edu/UsingVideo
Look at History of Science Web Directories
Research Methods Guide Department of History and Philosophy of Science (Cambridge University)
Using the Harvard Library- general information
Find Resources in Other Disciplines
Research guides in a variety of subjects are available in Harvard Library: E-Resources: choose Subject + Resource Type: Research Guides. Guides are also available via the Harvard Libguides site which includes some guides not accessible through Harvard Library.
Some of these are:
- Area Studies
- Finding Periodical Articles and Book Reviews on Africa
- Asian Studies Research Guides
- Finding Periodical Articles and Book Reviews on Latin America
- Guides for Middle Eastern Studies
- Slavic and Eurasian Studies at Harvard: Library and Archival Resources
- Humanities/Social Sciences
- Inter Libros: Research Guide for Classics, Byzantine, & Medieval Studies
- Rinascimento: Digital Renaissance Studies
- Bioethics sources
- Literary Research in Harvard Libraries and Literary Research in Harvard Libraries (Comparative Edition)
- Philosophy Resources at Harvard