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.

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

Library News

New News

As of June 2020, Scan & Deliver is scanning materials available in our largest repositories — Widener, Lamont, Countway, and the Harvard Depository. When you make a request, we will do our best to find a digital version for you. Please submit your request via HOLLIS, regardless of the library location, and we’ll let you know if it’s available. 

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: hl_access_services@harvard.edu.

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

Getting What You Need

This page will be updated as information becomes available

Books can be returned at the back (Massachusetts Avenue) door of Widener.

New Online Books

HathiTrust: HathiTrust is temporarily providing Harvard access to all the titles for which we have a print copy, approximately 2.4 million monographs.

How it works

  • You must Log In to HOLLIS with your Harvard Key.  If you go straight to HathiTrust Log In as Harvard University.
  • “Temporary Access” books can be read only online.
  • You can Check Out a book for 1 hour.
  • Your access will renew automatically at the end of that hour, unless another user requests the book after that hour is over.
  • Use the Return Early button to make it available for another user.
  • To read a book that is being used by someone else, you will need to check back periodically.

These items may be protected by copyright law but are made available through Temporary Access due to involuntary closure of the library. No further reproduction or distribution is permitted by any means without the permission of the copyright holder.

Internet Archive: Internet Archive has many copyrighted e-books available to borrow for 2 weeks. You can create a free account and log in to borrow the book. Only one person can borrow a book at one time.

Scan & Deliver and

If you have the citation to an article which is not available online or the pages or chapter (up to 30 pp.) from a book from (at the moment) from Lamont, Widener or the Harvard Depository, Scan & Deliver will email you the pdf within 1-4 days. Hit Scan & Deliver on the HOLLIS record.   You can also access Scan&Deliver on the HOLLIS home page (on the left)

Interlibrary Loan Services

ILL is currently unavailable

Purchase Requests

Purchase requests will be filled by e-books where available.  Requests for print-only books will be kept until normal ordering begins.

I need an article I found online but not through HOLLIS or Harvard Library Databases.

Instructions in: How to Use Your Harvard Key to Get Online Articles for Free


Note that in HOLLIS, near the top of Refine my results on your results screen, you can choose Show only: Online.  This is no longer reliable as many books are available online via HathiTrust, JSTOR, etc. but without links on HOLLIS records.

The Online Books Page

The Online Books Page arranges electronic texts by Library of Congress call numbers and is searchable (but not full text searchable).  Includes books not in Google Books, HathiTrust, or Internet Archive. Has many other useful features.

Visit a Library near You

Your local public library may have an e-books program.

Search in: 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.

You can probably visit a nearby university library although you won't be able to borrow books (unless it is a Borrow Direct library - see below).  Many university libraries have special borrower cards available for purchase.  Always check with the library on its admittance policy before visiting.

Harvard’s membership in Borrow Direct entitles you to visit and borrow from other Borrow Direct libraries: Brown  --  Columbia  --  Cornell  --  Dartmouth  --  Duke  --  Harvard  --  Johns Hopkins  --  MIT 

Your own public library may be able to get books via their own interlibrary loan department.

Visit an Archives near You

This guide gives instructions for finding archives and manuscripts outside of Harvard: Library Research Guide for Finding Manuscripts and Archival Collections.  Methods for limiting by region, where available, are given for the archive and manuscript databases.

This guide offers advice on visiting non-Harvard archives: Research Travel Checklist.

The Digital Scholarship Support Group offers faculty, students, and staff interested in incorporating digital methods into their teaching and research a single point of entry to the many resources available at Harvard.

Many of Harvard's library materials are located in Offsite storage. When HOLLIS "Location and Availability " indicates that a title is in Offsite storage, hit Request Item. After your Harvard Key there is a pull down menu allowing you to choose delivery location. Sometimes there is a single delivery option. Submit your request. You will receive an email usually in next business day (not weekends or holidays) morning.  Often the item is not actually ready for pick-up until mid-afternoon.  Sometimes Offsite storage material is in-library use only.   Most Offsite storage material is available for scanning via Scan & Deliver (see below). 


General Information

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: