Widener Memorial Library, Harvard University, General Reading Room [photograph, 1915]

Located in Harvard Yard, the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library is Harvard’s flagship library. It replaced Gore Hall, which stood on the same site from 1838 to 1913. The building of Widener Library was funded by a gift of Eleanor Elkins Widener, made in memory of her son Harry, a 1907 graduate of Harvard College who died on the Titanic in 1912. The library was designed by Horace Trumbauer & Associates, with Julian F. Abele, a prominent African-American architect, as the chief designer. The library was dedicated on Commencement Day in 1915. After the completion of a five-year renovation project, it was re-dedicated in 2004.

The Harvard University Archives has significant holdings related to the planning, construction, and maintenance of Widener Library, as well as materials documenting its central role in the life of the University. Materials held by the Archives include correspondence, University reports, architectural drawings, photographs, and ephemera. While not exhaustive, this research guide features materials from multiple archival collections. Where possible, links are provided for those collections cataloged in HOLLIS for Archival Discovery, the online catalog for materials in Harvard's many special collections and archives. Where online finding aids do not exist, the guide provides links to catalog records in HOLLIS, the online library catalog of the Harvard Library.