Exploring Special Collections at Harvard

Harvard has 38 special collections (archives, manuscript and rare book collections). Listed under the Archives & Special Collections Tab.

Houghton Library

The Houghton Library is Harvard's largest repository of rare books and manuscripts. Although best-known for literary collections, many sources for the history of science are held. Most books and many manuscripts are represented in the HOLLIS Catalog, but especially for manuscripts, a visit to Houghton to use their on-site catalogs and talk to staff is essential. Collections overview.

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

The Schlesinger Library has one of the leading collections of books, journals, and manuscripts on women's history. They have the personal papers of numerous women activists and records of women's organizations.
Tips on using Schlesinger and their research guides.

Harvard University Archives

University Archives is the repository of the records of the University administration and of many, especially Harvard College, departments. The personal papers of Harvard College faculty are also collected here. There are vertical files of biographical material and portraits. Harvard dissertations and Senior Theses are housed here. The Harvard Business, Law and Medical Schools have their own archival collections.

Countway Library

The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine includes the Center for the History of Medicine which holds extensive collections of European, and especially American, medical literature with especially rich collections in anatomy and surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, and materia medica. Most 18th and 19th century manuscript collections have been processed, but access is through a card file in the reading room. Records for these collections are gradually being added to HOLLIS. Call ahead to make an appointment before visiting CHM, the Countway Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. List of major collections

Baker Library Historical Collections

Though particularly strong in American business history, this collection contains international elements as well, including letters and other materials that give insight to the political and social culture of the times.  They have a vast accumulation of local business records bulking in late 18th-early 20th with strengths in: labor, records of merchants, farmer’s account books, early financiers (often with Harvard background). Lots on the China trade.  They also have thousands of company annual reports (1820-date).

Kress Collection of Business and Economics contains rare books, pamphlets, broadsides, manuscripts, and prints, from the 15th to the early 20th centuries with traditional strengths in economic philosophy, political economy, commerce, and business history, with much on the environment of economics and business: social conditions, politics, public health, transport, etc. Many, but not all, of the titles in the Kress Collection may be found in Making of the Modern World (MOMW).