Historical & Special Collections

“Harvard professors do not often commit murder…”

… as Harvard President Jared Sparks observed in 1849, the year that Boston Brahmin George Parkman was murdered by Harvard Medical School Professor John Webster. Want to read about Harvard’s most sensational crime and the ensuing trial—one that remains a leading case on the value of circumstantial evidence? A new e-resource, Making of Modern Law—Trials 1620-1926, contains the …

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852: Rare – Unidentified African American man

When processing print, photograph, and manuscript collections, archivists encounter many challenges, not the least of which are unidentified photographs and illegible handwriting. When processors in the Art Collection come across an unidentified photograph, we have to use our knowledge of the creator of the collection to guide us to a best-possible guess on identify. Some additional research might …

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852: Rare – Burking the Italian Boy; or, Commerce in Cadavers

Burking, fortunately, is a crime that has disappeared, leaving only the word itself to testify to its horror. Writing in the April 2, 1881 issue of his weekly magazine, All the Year Round, Charles Dickens reminded his readers of its meaning: “For several years [in the late 1820s] there prevailed what would now be called a “burking scare.” …

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852: RARE – “Are the Free Colored Persons reckoned as free white persons?”

While processing a bequest, Special Collections staff came across a first edition secondary school textbook written by Joseph Story, the first Dane Professor of Law at Harvard. Entitled The Constitutional Class Book: Being a brief exposition of the Constitution of the United States, the book is inscribed, “To Jane Sumner, a present from the author.” The book has …

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852: RARE – Check it out tomorrow

Tomorrow, December 14, marks the debut of 852: RARE a monthly post highlighting treasures, rarities, oddities, and often-unknown items found in the holdings of the Library’s Special Collections Department. The name 852: RARE pays homage to the MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging) holdings field designation for items in the rare book collection. In addition to rare books, Special Collections …

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World Digital Library

The Library of Congress and UNESCO recently announced their agreement to move forward with the creation of a World Digital Library. The World Digital Library, modeled after the Library of Congress’s American Memory project, “will make available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from cultures around the world, including manuscripts, maps, …

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A new digital collection, Studies in Scarlet: Marriage and Sexuality in the U.S. & U.K., 1815-1914

An announcement from the HLS Library’s Special Collections department: A new digital collection, Studies in Scarlet: Marriage and Sexuality in the U.S. & U.K., 1815-1914 The Harvard University Libraries have launched a new digital collection, Studies in Scarlet: Marriage and Sexuality in the U.S. & U.K., 1815-1914. Drawn from the Harvard Law School Library’s extensive trial collections, Studies …

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