We are always happy to give you a tour of Widener and an orientation to our catalog, HOLLIS, and our other resources. Our emails are below.

This guide is intended as a point of departure for research in history.  We also have a more selective guide with major resources only: Introductory Library Research Guide for History.

Please feel free to email us with questions. We can make an appointment for you to come in, and we can talk at length about your project.

  • Anna Assogba (assogba@fas.harvard.edu) Research Librarian and Liaison to the Department of History, Lamont Library (With particular knowledge of Zotero and other citation management systems).
  • Fred Burchsted (burchst@fas.harvard.edu) Research Librarian and Liaison to the Department of History, Widener Library.

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

Harvard Library Bookmark and Lean Library plugins can help you find out if we have access to books and articles online.

Off-Site Storage

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.

Interlibrary Loan

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.

Purchase Request

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

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

The Digital Scholarship Group offers workshops and support to faculty, students, and staff interested in digital research methods.  See also  GIS Mapping Resources and Visualization Support.

General Information

More guides are available via the Harvard Library Research Guides site

Finding Book Reviews

Finding Dissertations and Theses

Finding Harvard Library's Unique or Distinctive Primary Sources: Original and Digital


Guide to Research in History of Art & Architecture

Library Research Guide for Book History

Library Research Guide for British Colonial and Foreign Relations Sources

Research Guide for Primary Sources on Civil Rights

Inter Libros: Research Guide for Classics, Byzantine, & Medieval Studies

Literary Research in Harvard Libraries

Library Research Guide for American Material Culture (This is in an early stage of development)

Middle East and Islamic Studies Library Resources

Music 219r: American Music, Library Guide

Library Research Guide for HIST 1006: Native American and Indigenous Studies

Library Research Guide for the History of Science

Library Research Guide for History 97g: "What is Legal History?"

Library Research Guide for U.S. Foreign Relations


Library Research Guide for Global History

Library Research Guide for HIST 2256: Digital Archives: Europe and European Empires

Library Research Guide for Educating for American Democracy

Library Research Guide for American Studies

Library Research Guide for Latin American Studies

Germanic Languages and Literatures

Slavic and Eurasian Studies at Harvard (See Research Contacts at bottom of left hand column)

Library Research Guide for South Asian Studies

Library Research Guide for HIST 1037: Modern Southeast Asia

Research Guides at Other Institutions

Go to Google Advanced Search

  • all of these words: Sociology library
  • any of these words: guides research resources
  • site or domain: edu  (or ac.uk for Britain, etc.)

To find new Harvard E-Resources.Go to Cross-Search in Harvard Libraries E-Resources and choose the Quick Set: New E-Resources. This operates oddly, you sometimes have to select one of the E-Resources displayed, then close the resulting page to see the whole list of new E-Resources. This list displays some but not all new E-Resources.

The following history library blogs list new history resources: