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. Houghton, with its enormous international archive yet its historical role as the receptacle of American knowledge, can cater to political scientists focused on both domestic and international matters, as well as to those interested in political theory, the other possible Government subfield.

Political theorists and American politics concentrators, in fact, might wish to begin with Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Obedience papers (MS Am 278.5 [14], 009065351), which contain fragments and scraps of one of the most influential essays in American political thought. They also have access to William James’ copy of Civilization, Taxation, and Representation (Gov 518.7*, 005330182), an 1867 English politico-economic treatise, and W. V. Quine’s copy of Howard DeLong’s essay Democracy from a Philosophical Point of View (MS Am 2587 [1624], 008937558), a fascinating theoretical approach to the institution studied by all Government concentrators in their sophomore tutorials.

American concentrators might also be fascinated by one of Houghton’s most important historical holdings: a 1767 broadside signed by Paul Revere, James Otis, and other key revolutionaries (AB7.B6578.767w, 007407475). Another, more unorthodox holding that might be of interest is a 1802 play titled Federalism Triumphant in the Steady Habits of Connecticut Alone (DAL 1042.8.185*, 003976070), described as a “comic opera” or “political farce.” Students might also find value in a collection of interwar broadsides with documents concerning both Europe and the United States (Econ 13.5), a series of documents that can also be used by comparative politics and international relations students.

Houghton’s collection is, in fact, a treasure trove for those focusing on comparative politics or international relations. The library’s holdings include, for example, some of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany’s letters (MS Ger 49-49.1, 009107955), which he wrote whilst exiled in the Netherlands after the First World War. Houghton also owns the Vladimir, Grand Duke of Russia Russian imperial family collection (MS Russ 26, 000602191), which contains correspondence of multiple notable figures in Russia and Europe, including Tsar Alexander II. Incredibly enough, students also have access to a large number of Leon Trotsky’s papers (MS Russ 13-13.11), including his Soviet papers (MS Russ 13, 000602232), his exile papers (MS Russ 13.1, 008785853), and a collection of films and photographs (MS Russ 13.9, 010008405) that includes images of him tending bunnies in Mexico.

The collection is also rich in material about China and East Asia. Houghton owns an 1810 English copy of the Chinese penal code (Ch 12.5.3, 002712256), a piece with so much potential for historical and cross-cultural comparison, and a 1924 typescript of a Harvard thesis titled “Foreign Relations of Tibet” (MS Chinese 11, 009957170). Another series of broadsides (Ch 10.50) contain many items about the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. The library also holds three collections of papers of American diplomats who worked in the East—William Woodville Rockhill, the father of the Open Door policy (MS Am 2121, 008852404); William Richards Castle, ambassador to Japan in 1930 (MS Am 2021, 000601987); and Joseph Clark Grew, ambassador to Japan from 1932 to 1941 and director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs (MS Am 1687-1687.9, 000601802) at the end of the Second World War. This, of course, is just a small selection of materials from the archives; Government concentrators can explore the entire world through Houghton’s collections.

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