Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, alphabetically the last Harvard concentration, comes at the end of a guide through Houghton that hopes to have shown that the library’s reputation for being a place where diversity is the exception to the rule is unfounded. From African and African American Studies to East…

Visual and Environmental Studies

Visual and Environmental Studies encompasses a wide variety of artistic fields, from studio art to photography and film. Houghton’s versatile collection caters to all of these areas; the library owns many artists’ books and multifarious photography collections, as well as films. Beginning with more traditional endeavors, Houghton’s large collection of…

Theater, Dance, and Media

Harvard’s newest concentration, Theater, Dance, and Media is a multidisciplinary field that involves the arts and many of the humanities at Harvard. Most importantly, however, it is one of the only concentrations in the 49 Book to have a special, dedicated Houghton collection. The Book, in fact, mentions the Theater…

Statistics

Though Statistics is described as a “young discipline” by the 49 Book, data collection and analysis are as old as human civilization itself. Livy, in Book I of his Ab urbe condita (which Houghton owns in multiple copies, including a 1470 incunabulum [Inc 3345, 005274015]), describes how king Servius Tullius…

South Asian Studies

South Asian Studies covers India, Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. A humanities concentration focused on an area of the world, it is multifarious in its approach to the region: students can focus on South Asia’s history, literatures, languages, religions, and philosophies, as well as any other desired aspect…

Sociology

Described by the 49 Book as “the meeting place of the social sciences,” Sociology, as the study of human society, is interdisciplinary by definition. It is also not restricted to academic theory and large-scale studies; to quote Harvard’s concentration guide again, Sociology is the “study of social life at every…

Social Studies

Social Studies is the interdisciplinary concentration par excellence. Devised around a focus field rather than a concrete set of courses and requirements, it allows students to pursue any interest from a social scientific perspective. Houghton’s archive can most certainly cater to that, but, because of the concentration’s highly individualized curriculum,…

Slavic Languages and Literatures

Concentrators in the field of Slavic Languages and Literatures are in luck: Houghton Library has the largest Slavic collection in the world, amassing many rare items that were destroyed through countless intellectual purges in Eastern Europe across the centuries. HOLLIS accounts for almost 140 Russian manuscripts and twenty manuscripts described…

Religion

Religion is well-represented in Houghton’s catalogue. Religious institutions have been patrons of the arts and the letters throughout human history, and the library reflects that through its immense collection of books and manuscripts connected, in one way or another, to human spirituality. Houghton’s archives demonstrate the tangible effect Christianity, the…

Psychology

Psychology is one of the most catholic concentrations at Harvard; classified as a social science, it is at once biological, philosophical, and sociological, tackling the mysteries of the human mind through many lenses and perspectives. Houghton’s collection reflects the universality of psychology, especially its strong ties to philosophy and the…

Physics

Much like with sciences such as chemistry, the physics collection at Houghton is very focused on the history of the subject rather than on more practical aspects of the concentration. That is not to say, however, that the library’s material is obsolete. To understand most of the concepts in modern…

Philosophy

It is a tall order to summarize the wealth of material related to philosophy at Houghton. From a third century CE fragment of Plato’s Republic (MS Gr SM3739, 009957565) to nineteenth century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s papers (MS Ger 51, 000602039), the library seems to have in store…

Neurobiology

The study of the nervous system—especially the brain—is also an interdisciplinary venture, a fact very much reflected by Harvard’s Neurobiology concentration. Described by the 49 Book as “arguably the least understood and most important area of biology,” it can involve not only the life sciences but also social sciences and…

Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations—composed of four subfields: the Middle East in Antiquity, Jewish Studies, Islamic Studies, and Modern Middle Eastern Studies—is a very comprehensive concentration while allowing students to focus on their major interest within the subject. Houghton can provide research material for students in these four tracks, besides…

Music

Though Harvard has the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Houghton also possesses an enviable collection of items related to the concentration that students can use in their research endeavors. As a cultural phenomenon, music lives within a historical and societal context, and Houghton, besides having scores, is rich in material…

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering is intrinsically linked to the physical world surrounding us, and Houghton’s historical collection most certainly caters to the applied study of physics, chemistry,  and mathematics, as well as to engineering advancements that still aid in making progress on the field. However, the library’s archives and supporting infrastructure can…

Mathematics

The Mathematics concentration at Harvard is focused on the pure, theoretical study of numbers—Applied Mathematics is a separate concentration, focused on interdisciplinary pursuits and discussed above. Houghton has materials serving students in both fields, and the library is especially rich in historical and theoretical material about pure mathematics, which can…

Linguistics

With a collection spanning dozens of tongues and more than twenty centuries, Houghton is the perfect place to study human language. A paradise for the historical linguist, the library also contains more than enough material about other areas of linguistics—especially semantics, which is often explored in conjunction with philosophy. The…

Integrative Biology

Integrative Biology, with its interdisciplinary yet evolution-centered approach to the life sciences, is a very versatile concentration. Houghton’s archive is a treasure trove for a science concentration so dependent on the history of the field and on history itself. Moreover, Integrative Biology’s heavy emphasis on ecology and organismal interactions makes…

Human Evolutionary Biology

Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection is perhaps the most polemical scientific postulate in human history. The ramifications of his civilization-changing work have left the realm of biology and bled through to other sciences and Harvard concentrations, most notably Integrative Biology, and even the social sciences and the humanities, especially…

Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology

The Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology concentration focuses on the growing and self-renewing human body. The field is at the edge of modern research, focusing especially on stem cells and intercellular signaling pathways—areas with few materials at Houghton because of their young age as subjects and their dizzying self-updating rates.…

History of Art and Architecture

The breadth of the History of Art and Architecture concentration is not lost at Houghton. From theory to practice and covering a wide variety of media and time periods, the library’s collection can help art and architecture history concentrators with almost any research project—and even inspire new academic endeavors. Once…

History and Science

Science and Houghton might appear like water and oil at first sight. However, delving into the library’s inexhaustible archive completely overturns that superficial impression, especially when it comes to the history of scientific inquiry. Houghton’s collection includes famous first editions and scientists’ papers, and the historian of science will feel…

History and Literature

The History and Literature concentration joins what are probably the two largest fields of research at Houghton Library. As a result, it is easy to integrate historical and literary research in the library, which includes material from all of the regions and time periods covered by the concentration. Below, they…

History

Every material at Houghton is connected to the discipline of history in one way or another. Providing a cohesive picture of the collection and its relation to the study of the past, therefore, is a virtually impossible task. Some of the most remarkable historical artifacts found in the collection are…

Government

Government is one of the largest and most diverse concentrations at Harvard. Though one of its subfields is entirely dedicated to American politics, concentrators are also encouraged to pursue tracks such as comparative politics and international relations, which teach political science from a global perspective and broaden their intellectual scope.…

Folklore and Mythology

Houghton is a receptacle for rare books and manuscripts, but that does not mean that the contents of its collection are exclusively erudite and rarefied. Folklore is an integral part of the Houghton archive, and many collections within the library can be of aid to Folklore and Mythology concentrators pursuing…

Environmental Science and Public Policy

The environment is a universal human concern, and the Environmental Science and Public Policy concentration seeks to tackle issues surrounding it from multiple perspectives, including the hard, life, and social sciences. Houghton and its historical collections contain a variety of materials about the environment that can aid ESPP concentrators to…

English

English literature is one of Houghton’s fortes; it is hard even to begin shortlisting items for undergraduate students to use in research projects within their concentration because of the library archive’s incredible variety and extent. Below is a very small sample of all that Houghton has to offer to the…

Engineering Sciences

At first sight, Houghton does not look promising to engineering students. A rare books and manuscripts library, it does not seem to support the concentration’s heavy emphasis on innovation and progress because of its focus on the past. However, Houghton has a large collection of materials related to the Engineering…

Electrical Engineering

Houghton might not be Harvard’s electrical engineers’ first choice for a research facility. The library’s focus on relatively old material is not conducive to work in a field that sees progress on a quasi-daily basis. However, as with most of the sciences, Houghton holds documents pivotal to the history of…

Economics

Houghton holds a large collection of historical material related to the discipline of economics. Students can, in fact, come into contact with what is probably the most important academic work in their concentration—the first, 1776 editions of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (Econ 429.7.76*, 003625612), considered to be the inception…

East Asian Studies

First of all, it is important to remark that Houghton’s East Asian collection’s reduced (yet still significant) size is due to Harvard’s fractured special collections library system. Yenching Library has most of the university’s holdings about East Asia, but that does not mean that the field is neglected at Houghton.…

Earth and Planetary Sciences

The Earth and Planetary Sciences concentration unites disciplines such as geology, climate science, environmental geoscience, geobiology, geochemistry, and geophysics, among many others, to study the planet’s so-called natural systems—the atmosphere, the oceans, the biosphere, and the earth. Interconnected with other concentrations such as Astrophysics, Chemistry, Physics, and the multiple engineerings,…

Computer Science

Computer Science, as the 49 Book itself explains, is about skills and ideas that might be useful “in ways we cannot even imagine today.” One of the most popular and innovative concentrations offered by Harvard College, it is a bastion of constant progress and often attracts minds craving change and…

Comparative Literature

At the heart of the Comparative Literature concentration lies the ability to explore the world of literature through different languages, genres, and lenses. Houghton’s archive, which houses materials ranging from manuscripts to political propaganda posters in dozens of languages, is the perfect place for undergraduates to conduct research in the…

Classics

Houghton is, of course, a goldmine for Classics concentrators: not only it holds more than 400 Latin and more than 120 Greek manuscripts—including the bill of sale for a donkey from 126 CE (MS Gr SM2223, 009956023)—but it also possesses an enviable collection of other materials in both languages that…

Chemistry and Physics

Much like for the Chemistry and the Physics concentrations, it is difficult to provide a list of Houghton materials for Chemistry and Physics research that does not involve historical considerations. Many of those materials, in fact, overlap with items that help the two parent concentrations. However, Houghton does contain a…

Chemistry

Houghton has a call number for Chemistry, and there are hundreds of materials that fall under the category. However, as a science concentration, the subject is much more prone to looking to the future than to the past to answer questions and find new lines of inquiry. A collection steeped…

Biomedical Engineering

Much like Chemical and Physical Biology, Biomedical Engineering is an amalgamation of sciences—an intellectual potpourri seeking to prepare students for graduate studies in medicine and bioengineering. As a result, it draws on material from various other concentrations, including physics, chemistry, mathematics, and the other life sciences. Much like other engineering…

Anthropology

Anthropology, with its holistic approach to humanity, is a broad, catholic field. Houghton’s emphasis on being the guardian of some of humanity’s most prized treasures by collecting a wide range of material from around the globe, therefore, makes it the perfect research space for the anthropology student, who can even…