Poetry Collections at Harvard


The Houghton Library has long collected poetry, with holdings ranging in date from a fragment of the Odyssey (ca. 1-200) to the recent poetry of John Ashbery; and encompassing all the major European languages. The Library is best known for its collections of American poet’s papers, which include manuscripts and letters of Emily Dickinson, as well as the Dickinson family library and a number of artifacts on permanent display in the Dickinson Room, as well as the papers of Herman Melville, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; John Ashbery, e.e. cummings, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Amy Lowell and Robert Lowell, among others. The archive of New Directions Publishing Corp. includes correspondence from many of the poets the firm published, such as Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, and many more. Printed poetry holdings are too extensive to be enumerated by author, but can be located through HOLLIS.

British holdings include the world’s largest collection of John Keats autograph poetry and letters, along with a portion of his library,form the core of a strong collection of the Romantics. Other unique resources include Tennyson’s journals, limericks and drawings by Edward Lear, an extensive collection of Lewis Carroll; the papers of William Empson; an important poetrynotebook kept by W.H. Auden; and other individual manuscripts.

Outside the English-language tradition, the Library has focused on poetry in Germany (with near-complete collections of Goethe, Schiller, Heine and Rilke); France (Charles Baudelaire, Stephan Mallarme and Paul Valery); Spain (the papers of Jorge Guillen and Pedro Salinas); Latin America (Ruben Dario, Gabriela Mistral, Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda) and Russia (with strong collections of Alexander Pushkin and of such Silver Age poets as Alexandr Blok, Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova).

In addition to its substantive printed materials, Houghton also houses on of the most comprehensive recording collections of poetry in the country: the Woodberry Poetry Room. Launched in 1931 by the recording pioneer Frederick Packard, the collection today includes such voices as W. H. Auden, Ted Berrigan, Elizabeth Bishop, Yves Bonnefoy, Joseph Brodsky, E. E. Cummings, Robert Duncan, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Louise Gluck, Ted Hughes, Robinson Jeffers, Denise Levertov, Robert Lowell, Czeslaw Milosz, Marianne Moore, Vladimir Nabokov, Sharon Olds, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Siegfried Sassoon, Anne Sexton and Wallace Stevens.

Houghton Librarians author two blogs, updated continually with new acquisitions:

Select highlights from Houghton Library's digital resources include:




Poetic compositions from the hands of emperors, scholars, conquerors, and sages are preserved in the Harvard-Yenching Library in the form of stone rubbings, early printed texts, contemporary books, and translations and studies. The collections are in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Mongolian, and selected Western languages, and are used to support teaching and research in East Asia languages and literatures.

The Harvard-Yenching Library has become the third-largest library among all Harvard libraries on campus, after Widener Library and Harvard Law School Library. Harvard-Yenching Library's collections stand at over one million volumes, including approximately 659,000 in Chinese, 296,000 in Japanese, 129,000 in Korean, 15,000 in Vietnamese, 47,000 in various Western languages, 4,300 in Tibetan, 3,500 in Manchu, and 500 in Mongolian. This year another 21,000 volumes were added to the collections.


Loeb Music

The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library is the primary repository of musical materials at Harvard. The Library's collections support research in a wide variety of musical disciplines, including historical musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory, composition, and historically-informed performance practice.

Of particular interest to scholars of poetry are the library's collections of opera and operetta, art songs, and lieder, including one of the world's largest collections of first and early editions of Schubert scores. Reflecting the Music Department's expansion of programs in popular music and jazz, the Library continues to acquire significant collections of jazz, popular music from around the world, spoken word recordings, and music from films and musical theatre productions.