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.
This is an abstract of our larger guide: Library Research Guide for History
Help with Digital History
Digital Scholarship Support Group
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. The schedule for summer workshops in data visualization is available. Digital Mapping and GIS Support
Getting What You Need
Books can be returned at the back (Massachusetts Avenue) door of Widener.
Borrow Direct is back! If a book is checked out or not owned by Harvard, you can probably get it within 1-4 days via Borrow Direct. This is quicker than recalling it (hitting the Request link) from the person who has it. Largely for books, but some DVDs, microfilm and other formats are available. The Borrow Direct catalog can be tricky to search. Omlt subtitles in searched, and use the main title and the author's last name. Try several searched to be sure.
Library book pickup
Current faculty, staff and students in the Cambridge area can check out books from any of our facilities to which we have access. Check our How to Borrow Our Materials and Use our Services During COVID page to see what's available and how to arrange pickup at Lamont Library (appointment only). Only books not available through HathiTrust Temporary Access can be requested for Lamont pick up.
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
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
Our in-house document delivery service can provide portions of works, such as an article from a journal issue or a chapter from a book. The service is limited to roughly 10 percent of a work (up to 30pp). When you make a request, we will do our best to scan or find 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. *The Scan & Deliver service specifically applies to print materials in our collections, and we do not currently have access to all of these. We will try to obtain a scan from somewhere else if we can't get to our own copy.
Interlibrary Loan Services
ILL for physical items is currently unavailable. Interlibrary Loan will obtain scans of book chapters and articles where possible: choose Request Article/Chapter under ILL Requests on your ILL page. This takes only 1-4 days.
Some non-Harvard repositories are willing and able (they may be short-staffed at the moment) to scan material (usually for a fee). Our Interlibrary Loan department is willing to chip in money for scanning. $70 is an amount I have seen mentioned, but I think it’s somewhat negotiable. You have to negotiate with the archive and obtain the price and an exact specification (Box 77, Folder 4; available on online finding aids) which you submit to Interlibrary Loan.
Log in to your ILL page https://library.harvard.edu/services-tools/interlibrary-loan (you may have to fill out a form with personal information first). On the left hand side it says Make a Request. Open that and choose Request Article. Fill in what you can (some fields won’t be applicable, put in N/A) with the price and other information in the Comments box. This will get the process going and they can get back to you if they need more information.
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, and for students and researchers. 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 or click on "View in Library" in HOLLIS under Get It to place a request (for scanning).
Purchase requests will be filled by e-books where available. Requests for print-only books will be kept until normal ordering begins.
Browser Plugins for Library Access (aka 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
Digital Scholarship Support Group
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. The schedule for summer workshops in data visualization is available.
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, if open, 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 -- Princeton -- Stanford -- Univ. of Chicago -- Univ. of Pennsylvania -- Yale. All these libraries are currently closed.
Bear in mind that even open libraries may be reducing occupancy by eliminating special borrowers. So check with your intended libraries
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. Some archives have digitized, usually small selected, portions of their collections. These are often accessed through collection finding aids, sometimes through digital collections
This guide offers advice on visiting non-Harvard archives: Research Travel Checklist..
Getting What You Need
These services are not currently being offered. For the current situation see Working Off Campus.
- Get a checked-out book within 1-4 days (from another institution) via Borrow Direct.
- Get an item delivered from another Harvard library within 1-4 days via Harvard Direct (use the Request Item link in a HOLLIS record).
- Request an electronic scan of a book chapter or a journal article within 1-4 days via the Scan & Deliver link in a HOLLIS record.
- Request an item from another institution via interlibrary loan. For articles, requests usually take a few hours. For other materials, requests could take 1-10 days. Use the OCLC number from the bottom of a WorldCat record to speed processing of your request.
- Interlibrary Loan may be able to obtain a scan of clearly specified archival documents. You must negotiate with the holding repository and ascertain if they are able to provide a scan, exact specification of the item needed, their exact price and contact information. Provide this information to ILL on the Request Article form.