Huntington Library

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Address and Contact Info

Address: 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, CA 91108.

Telephone and fax: (626) 405-2116. Fax (626) 449-5703.

Web page:

President: Steven S. Koblik

Director of Research: Robert "Roy" C. Ritchie

Director of the Library: David S. Zeidberg

Hours and usage restrictions

Monday - Saturday, 8:30 AM - 5 PM. You'll need to make an appointment before coming to use the collections, rather than just showing up.

Readers (the Huntington's term for registered users of the collections) typically must hold the Ph.D. in a relevant field or be advanced to candidacy in one of those fields.

Collection Summary

The Huntington Library is a research institution devoted primarily to the study of British, American and Continental history and literature, with specialties in the history of California and the American West, U.S. antebellum and Civil War history, and the history of science, technology and medicine. The library has exceptional collections of manuscripts and rare books in the fields in which it specializes. In American history its holdings of the printed accounts of early explorers are virtually complete; its collections in the period to 1800 number more than 7,000 American imprints as well as extensive manuscript archives; its holdings on the Civil War and the West are among the most extensive in the nation. The library’s holdings in British medieval history are unparalleled in the United States; in the postmedieval period its collections include more than 70 percent of all books printed in England before 1641 as well as more than 70 collections of manuscripts. The total number of collections for postmedieval British and American history is more than 800.

These historical collections are supplemented by equally extensive holdings of literary and historical books and manuscripts. For American literature there is a remarkable collection of American fiction before 1900 and manuscript collections containing the papers of such notable writers as Jack London and Wallace Stevens. In British literature the collections on the English Renaissance are quite extensive and the later periods are equally well represented with notable collections in theater history.

Taken as a whole, the rare materials at the Huntington are the most heavily-used of any private research library in North America.

The Library also has a notable historic photograph collection, with approximately 600,000 photographs, and with especially rich holdings in the American West.

The Burndy History of Science Collection will be available for scholars in the summer of 2008 and will add enormously to the Huntington’s already fine history of science holdings. Accompanying the library is the Dibner History of Science Program at the Huntington. This program will fund long- and short-term fellowships, an annual conference, a lecture series, and an ongoing series of seminars.

Outside of the scope of the Library's holdings but still relevant to researchers is The Huntington and Virginia Steele Scott art galleries, which contain many remarkable paintings. The collections have nearly 50,000 drawings, watercolors, and prints. The spectacular botanical gardens also have their own research library for works on botanical subjects.

Usage Discussion

Suggestions for approaching the material:

For those doing primary source research, use of the Huntington's somewhat idiosyncratic but still-magnificent manuscript card catalog is essential. It's very strong in personal names -- authors and recipients of correspondence -- and should be your first stop in determining what relevant manuscript holdings the library has. Talking to one of the ten subject-specialist curators in the library is also critical, as they know the collections best.

Housing and getting by for less in the area:

If you're on a fellowship (or on your own dime and need local lodging), contact Susi Krasnoo, the person who helps Readers find housing locally -- often inexpensively, via a room rental in San Marino. (; 626-405-3432). The sooner you contact her before your arrival, the better. Summer is by far the busiest time at the Huntington. Also ask other Readers for tips on cheap places to eat; nearby Pasadena has lots of great little hole-in-the-wall eateries as well as something in every cost range and of almost any conceivable type of food.

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