The Harvard University Archives is....

The Harvard University Archives supports the University's mission of education and research by preserving and providing access, to the greatest extent possible, Harvard's historical records; gathering an accurate, authentic, and complete record of the life of the University; and promoting the highest standards of management for Harvard's current records. The Harvard University Archives collections range from institutional to personal archives, cross five centuries, and represent materials across all formats, from paper to websites.  The collections include personal papers or personal archives of Harvard University faculty members.

These collections focus on the academic, professional, intellectual, public, and in many cases personal lives of Harvard University faculty members. Collections encompass nearly every discipline taught and studied at Harvard, but also reflect a wide range of other activities our faculty have engaged in over their lives. These includes local, national, and international leadership roles; literary pursuits; artistic endeavors; and social justice and political activism.

Please note that the personal papers of faculty associated with Harvard can also found both in other archives and special collections within the Harvard Library system as well as in repositories outside of the University. 

This research guide serves as an index to the collections held by the Harvard University Archives and as a quick gateway to the descriptions of the individual collections in the HOLLIS online library catalog and to online finding aids found in HOLLIS for Archival Discovery.

Terminology used in this Research Guide

  • “Papers” and “Personal Archive” denote the same sort of collection.  In 2012, the University Archives began describing collections of personal papers as “Personal Archives,” reflecting the changing nature of collections that no longer consisted exclusively of paper materials and more frequently contained electronic files and other media.
  • "Papers [accessions]" and "Personal Archives [accessions]" denote collections of materials that have been received (or "accessioned") but have not yet been fully cataloged by the staff of the Harvard University Archives. These materials often require extensive staff review prior to use by researchers. Please contact the reference staff for more information.
  • A “Collection of miscellaneous papers” or a “Collection of papers, mainly cuttings and reprints from periodicals” typically does not contain archival or manuscript materials but instead contains published articles or essays.

Collections Availability

Many of the University Archives' collections are open and available for use. However, restrictions apply to certain categories of material.

  • Harvard University policy restricts access to University administrative records for a period of 50 years from the date of their creation. Additionally, University records pertaining to individuals (such as student and employee records) are closed for a minimum of 80 years. University records contained within personal archives are subject to the same 50- and 80-year restrictions on access required by University policy.
  • Personal archives of faculty may be subject to restrictions established by the donor.