Houghton Library

Locating Materials


Overview

Records for books and other printed material held by Houghton are in the HOLLIS catalog, an overview of which is given in Searching the HOLLIS Online Catalog. However, no one source completely describes Houghton's non-print holdings. What follows is a very general description of catalogs available online. Collection-level (summary) descriptions of many Houghton manuscript collections can be found in HOLLIS, as well as records for many single manuscript items. For example, HOLLIS includes a summary description of the Henry James papers (bMS Am 1094), as well as the record for a 15th century manuscript history of Rome (MS Lat 368).

A steadily increasing number of Houghton's finding aids for manuscript collections now appear in OASIS (Online Archival Search Information System). These are descriptive listings of the contents of collections, written in EAD (Encoded Archival Description) and mounted on the Web. To see Houghton collections currently available, visit OASIS, click on the "Browse by Finding Aids" tab, limit by repository to Houghton, and click "Go."

Many additional finding aids and card catalogs are available only on-site. If you have trouble locating the materials you seek, please contact the Public Services Department via e-mail.

If the catalog indicates that materials are restricted, you will need to apply for permission to see them.  

Return to Top


Books

Records for books and other printed material held by Houghton are in the HOLLIS catalog, an overview of which is given in Searching the HOLLIS Online Catalog.

Searching HOLLIS
To search HOLLIS for books held at Houghton, choose the Expanded Search option, and limit your search to Locations = Houghton. There are numerous options to choose in the drop-down menu. For example, you can search for keywords Anywhere or more specifically in Author, Title, or Subject lines. Note that you can also limit your search by date range and language.  Once you have found the record of an item, subject links at the bottom of the record can lead you to other items in the same subject area.  You can also click on the name of the author or on the title to call up other pertinent records.

Once you find a record of an item you are interested in consulting, look at the Location information to make sure it is at Houghton. If the Location indicates that the item is held at the Harvard Depository, an off-site storage facility, we need to receive your request one working-day before you require the material. For more details on how many copies of the same edition, volumes, or issues are held by Houghton, you can click on the Holdings link after the Location and Call Number information. It is worthwhile to make note of the Author, Title, and Call Number of an item or add the information to a list in HOLLIS since you will be required to fill out a request card when you arrive in the Reading Room.

Classification Scheme
Many books at Houghton are arranged according to the nationality of the author and the time period in which he or she was most prolific. Call numbers beginning with AC8, for example, indicate an American author (AC) in the first half of the 1800s (8), while IC6 indicates an Italian author (IC) in the 1600s (6). The advantage of a basic understanding of the classification scheme is that you can then search by Other Call Number in HOLLIS Basic Search (not Expanded Search) and browse through a list of all books by, for example, Italian authors in the 17th-century (IC6).

Since books of a similar nature are placed together on the shelf, using the call number as a way to browse titles can be helpful. For example, once you discover that books from the library of E.E. Cummings begin with the call number AC9.C9125.Zz (Zz at the beginning of the third part of the call number indicates a book from a personal library), you can then enter this call number into the Search for box in HOLLIS and choose Search Type = Other call numberto retrieve a browsable list of the call numbers and titles of books owned by Cummings. For a complete description of the classification scheme for Houghton books, ask at the Reading Room Desk.

Return to Top


Manuscripts

Manuscripts are held by many archives and libraries at Harvard, although Houghton has one of the largest collections. While no one source completely describes Houghton's holdings of manuscripts and letters, HOLLIS is the best place to start.

Searching HOLLIS
Collection-level (summary) descriptions of Houghton manuscript collections can be found in HOLLIS, as well as records for thousands of single manuscript items. For example, HOLLIS includes a summary description of the Henry James letters (MS Am 1094), as well as the record for a 15th century manuscript history of Rome (MS Lat 368). As with books, a basic understanding of the classification scheme allows you to browse manuscripts. Entering “MS Lat” in the Search for box in HOLLIS Basic Search and choosing Search Type = Other call numberwill allow you to browse through a list of Houghton’s Latin manuscripts. “MS Ger” will bring up German manuscripts, “MS Turk” for Turkish, etc.  For a complete description of the manuscript classification scheme, ask at the Reading Room Desk.

To search for manuscripts in HOLLIS, choose the Expanded Search option, limit the search to Locations = Houghton (or, see below, =Theatre Collection). Choose Format = Manuscripts in the box on the lower left of the screen. If you are searching for materials related to a specific person, searching for words Anywhere rather than in Author is a good way to find material by and related to that person. When using Anywhere and searching a name, use quotation marks and the following pattern: “Last name, First name”, e.g. “James, Henry”.

Searching OASIS
Houghton's finding aids— detailed listings of the contents of manuscript collections—now appear in OASIS (Online Archival Search Information System).

Browsing
To see a list of Houghton finding aids currently available in OASIS, click on the Browse Finding Aids tab, Limit by Repository = Houghton, and click GO. Browsing is one good way to search for collections of well-known authors and others since there can be many finding aids associated with a person or family. To browse through an alphabetical list of titles of finding aids, choose Browse Finding Aids, enter the last name in the Jump to box, e.g. “James”, then click GO. You can now browse through a list of all the finding aids that contain the papers of someone with the last name “James”.

Searching names
Since names can appear anywhere in a finding aid and not only in the title, the best way to search for names is to anticipate all the possible ways that person’s name might appear in different finding aids. For example, choose the Search tab, type “Last name, First name” in the first box, choose or in the connecting box, “First name Last name” in the second box, choose or in the connecting box, and finally, if relevant, “First name Middle name Last name” in the third box. Be sure to use quotation marks and or to connect the three boxes. Limit by Repository = Houghton, and click Search.

Refining your search
If too many records are returned or if you want to narrow your search, you can click on Refine search (just above the list of records and below Browse Finding Aids) and then choose Search within the current selection.

Some additional finding aids and catalogs are available only on-site. If you have trouble locating the materials you seek, please contact the Public Services Department via e-mail.

Return to Top


Musical Scores

In HOLLIS Expanded Search you can limit your search to Format = Score to return records of both printed and manuscript scores.

There is also a printed guide to music manuscripts at Houghton: Wolff, Barbara Mahrenholz, Music Manuscripts at Harvard: A Catalogue of Music Manuscripts from the 14th to the 20th centuries in the Houghton Library and the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Library, 1992). All of these manuscripts also appear in HOLLIS.

Searching HOLLIS
To use HOLLIS to search for scores in the Theatre Collection, be sure to limit to Location = Theatre Collection and Format = Score. Many musical scores in the Theatre Collection have not been cataloged and therefore do not appear in HOLLIS. If you are searching for specific scores and cannot find them in HOLLIS, or for information about the subject and other categories within which uncatalogued sheet music is arranged, please contact the Theatre Collection.

Return to Top


Images and Photographs

If you are looking for photographs, a good place to start is with the Directory to Photographs at Harvard. Click on the Repositories A-Z tab and find the four entries for Houghton Library. You can read summary descriptions of the photographic holdings in and guides for searching the Harvard Theatre Collection, Modern Books and Manuscripts, Printing and Graphic Arts, and the Theodore Roosevelt Collection.

Searching HOLLIS
You can search for visual materials in HOLLIS in various ways, and to be as comprehensive as possible, you should do more than one search. If you were searching for visual materials related to the World Wars, for example, you would go to Expanded Search, enter Keywords from Anywhere = world war, and limit your search to Format = Visual, Locations = Houghton. Since Format = Visual will only return entire collections of visual materials (a set of posters, for example) but not manuscript collections containing just a few photographs (for example), you should do another Expanded Search: enter Keywords from Anywhere = world war AND Keywords from Anywhere = photograph* (the asterisk means the system will find all words that begin with “photograph”, such as “photographs”, “photography”, “photographic”), then limit your search to Locations = Houghton.

Searching OASIS
Many manuscript collections contain photographs, which are described in the associated finding aid in OASIS. If you would like to browse through finding aids that include photographs, Search for “photograph*” in Anywhere, Limit by Repository = Houghton and click on Search.  To browse through Theatre Collection finding aids that include photographs, Search for “photograph*” in Anywhere and, on a separate line, “Harvard Theatre Collection” in Anywhere.

Searching VIA
There is a Harvard catalog dedicated to visual holdings,
VIA (Visual Information Access), which describes a small number of photographs at Houghton as well as some designs and photographs in the Theatre Collection. If you are looking for items at Houghton, be sure to Limit repository to Houghton or Harvard Theatre Collection.

Return to Top


Images Attributed to Houghton Books

When we give permission to publish an image from our collections, we ask that the author include the call number of the item in the credit line. If you have a complete citation, including the call number and item number or page number, please proceed to our Reproductions and Permissions page for information on how to order a copy or get permission to reproduce it.

If your information is partial—you know only the call number for the item, or just the title or author of our original publication or manuscript—you can also use HOLLIS or OASIS to search for the full citation.   

We rely on authors to provide full bibliographical or manuscript citations. If the author has not provided a detailed credit line, you should examine the acknowledgements page, footnotes, and bibliography to try to identify the source of the image in our collections. If you have no citation for the original image, we may happen to recognize it, so it is often worthwhile to send us a copy of the illustration as an e-mail attachment or a fax, but we cannot systematically search our extensive collections for uncredited illustrations.

Return to Top


Digitized Material

All of our cataloged visual and manuscript materials can be searched online in HOLLIS, OASIS or VIA (Visual Information Access).  Although only a portion of the images and manuscripts at Houghton have currently been digitized, the online collections grow every year.  Below are instructions on searching for images in the Harvard catalogs, downloading images for personal use, and additional resources containing Houghton images.


Searching Harvard Catalogs

Searching VIA

To search for other digital materials, you can begin in VIA. Be sure that the Limit search to records that have digital images box is checked and Limit repository to =Houghton, or =Harvard Theatre Collection, or =Theodore Roosevelt Collection.

Searching HOLLIS

In HOLLIS, you can choose the Digital Resources grey tab to search for items that are available online. Once in Digital Resources, choose Expanded Search.  You can then limit Locations = Houghton and choose a particular format if you wish. A search for “Dickinson, Emily” will return the digitized Herbarium records with links to the images of the pages, but will also return all the finding aids related to Emily Dickinson that can be accessed online.

Searching OASIS

In OASIS you may search for digital content in finding aids by checking the box to Limit to finding aids with digital content on the search page. You may use this limit in combination with other search terms and limits. Within a finding aid, if there is at least one link to digital content, a Digital Content tab will appear alongside the Full Finding Aid and Summary: Context tabs.


Downloading Existing Images for Personal Use

Existing digital images are for personal use and not for publication. To download these images remotely, please follow the directions below:

For links that contain only one image:

  • First, save the image by selecting a size from the View Full Image drop-down window.
  • Once you have selected the size, a new window or tab with the image should pop up. 
  • Right click on the new image and select Save As to save the image to your computer.

For links with multiple images:

  • On the top ribbon, select Print.
  • A new window will pop up with three options to convert the images to a PDF.
  • Select the option that you need. (Requests for 10 pages or less will be converted automatically.)
  • If you opt to have more than 10 pages converted, enter your email address. The PDF will be sent to your email. Please note that it can take up to an hour for larger files to assemble.

If you would like to publish the image, higher resolution images must be ordered through Harvard University’s Imaging Services. Please fill out the Photoduplication Request Form.


Additional Image Resources

In addition to making our digitized material available through HOLLIS, OASIS and VIA, Houghton Library also provides access to collection images through its own projects and collaborations with other institutions.

The library itself has embarked on a number of digitization projects. Two examples of ongoing initiatives are Digital Medieval Manuscripts at Houghton Library and Picturing Prayer: Books of Hours in the Houghton Library, Harvard University. Houghton has also completely digitized its collection of 84 Greek papyri and the images can be accessed through the Digital Papyri website. In addition, various departments at Houghton have recreated many of their exhibitions online. To view the exhibitions, please visit Harvard College Library’s Exhibitions page and scroll down to the Online Exhibitions section. Clicking on the link will expand the section and display a list of the exhibitions that can be accessed on line.

Houghton also participated in the Open Collections Program, a Harvard wide project that created many online resources, each centered on a specific theme. The collections in this endeavor cover a wide range of subjects, from Islamic Heritage to Immigration to the United States. The library has also contributed images to Daguerreotypes at Harvard, a preservation initiative that contains material from many Harvard repositories.

Digital images of material from Houghton can also be found outside of Harvard University. Material from our collection of William Blake books and illustrations are part of the William Blake Archive. Our digitized images of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts are also located at the Digital Scriptorium website. Meville's Marginalia Online displays images from Houghton’s collection of Herman Melville’s books and manuscripts. Harvard University has also agreed to participate in the Hathi Trust website and many images from Houghton can also be found at there.

Return to Top


Genealogical Research

While we can answer specific questions about materials in our collections that relate to your genealogical research, we do not have the staff to do general research on the history of your family. The Massachusetts Historical Society maintains a useful list of links for those researching genealogy in the New England area.

Return to Top