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?
HOLLIS is the center of the Library ecosystem. This is often the best first step to see if we have something. In HOLLIS, click on "Online Access" or open the record and scroll down to the "Access Options" section. Check the HOLLIS section of this guide for more guidance.
Browser Plugins for Library Access
Books and other materials stored in facilities not on Harvard's main campus. Request this material through HOLLIS:
- Select "Request Pick Up" in the Access section of the HOLLIS Record, then enter your Harvard Key.
- A drop down menu will allow you to choose delivery location. Sometimes there is a single delivery option. Submit your request.
- You will receive an email usually next business day (not weekends or holidays) morning. Item is usually ready for pick-up in mid-afternoon.
Sometimes Offsite storage material is in-library use only. For Widener, this is the Widener secure reading room on the 1st floor (formerly the Periodicals Room). Most Offsite storage material is available for scanning via Scan & Deliver (see below).
Scan & Deliver/Interlibrary Loan
Use Scan & Deliver/Interlibrary Loan to request PDFs of articles and book chapters from HOLLIS when you cannot get online access. Limit: 2 chapters from a book or 2 articles from a journal.
Request materials from other libraries via InterLibrary Loan:
- Some non-Harvard special collections may be willing and able to scan material (usually for a fee). Our Interlibrary Loan department will place the request and help with the cost (there is a cap).
- Contact the other repository to see if they're able to scan what you need. Get a price estimate for the material and the exact details (such as: Box 77 folder 4. This information is often 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.
Borrow Direct allows Harvard students, faculty, and staff to request items from other libraries for delivery to Harvard within 4 business days. If the item you need is not available, try searching our partner institutions' collections in BorrowDirect.
If there are materials you'd like to see added to the library's collections, submit a purchase request and we will look into acquiring it. We can buy both physical and electronic copies of materials; specify if have a preference.
Special Collections are rare, unique, primary source materials in the library's collections. To access, look for "Request to Scan or Visit" in HOLLIS (to place a scanning request) or contact the repository directly. Most of our larger archival collections are able to provide scans.
Carrels at Widener Library
Graduate students and visiting scholars are eligible to have a carrel in the Widener Library stacks. Start the process with the carrel request form. (If you do this right at the start of the semester, it may take a few weeks before you receive confirmation.) Materials from the Widener stacks, including non-circulating materials like bound periodicals, can be checked out to your carrel.
Ivy Plus Privileges
Our partnership with BorrowDirect allows physical access to libraries of fellow Ivy Plus institutions: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.
Help with Digital Projects
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