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Houghton Library is the primary repository for rare books and manuscripts at Harvard Universitymarker. It is part of the Harvard College Library within the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Houghton is located on the south side of Harvard Yardmarker, next to Widener Librarymarker.


Harvard's first special collections library was the Treasure Room of Widener Librarymarker. In March 1938, looking to supply Harvard's most valuable collections with more space and improved storage conditions, Harvard College Librarian Keyes DeWitt Metcalf presented the Harvard Corporation with a set of proposals which would eventually lead to the creation of Houghton Library, Lamont Library, and the New England Deposit Library. Funding for Houghton was raised privately, with the largest portion coming from Arthur A. Houghton Jr., in the form of shares of stock in Corning Glass Works. Construction was largely completed by the fall of 1941, and the library opened on February 28, 1942.

Houghton also holds the letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who commanded the 54th Massachusetts during the Civil War, and was killed during the assault on Fort Wagnermarker.


Houghton has five main curatorial departments:


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