The University Archives in Pusey Library will display items presented to President Larry Bacow during his installation. The viewing is from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Friday and includes the oldest surviving record book, the College Book 1.

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Arts & Culture

Special exhibits mark Bacow inauguration

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On Oct. 4–5, Harvard libraries celebrate the University’s past — and future

The history of the Harvard Library is rooted in the 1638 bequest of 400 books from John Harvard to the College. Today, the Harvard libraries hold the largest academic collection in the world. In honor of Larry Bacow’s inauguration as the University’s 29th president, the libraries will open their doors to share some of their treasures.

In special exhibitions organized just for the occasion, visitors will have a chance to see rare items that illuminate not only Harvard’s past but also that of the broader world — from the oldest surviving record book at Harvard College to Emily Dickinson’s handwritten poems to a Gutenberg Bible to Teddy Roosevelt’s diary.

Plan your visit

Widener Library will offer tours, including the Widener Memorial Room. On view will be items from Harry Elkins Widener’s collection. Widener (1885–1912), Harvard Class of 1907, amassed an extraordinary collection of books, manuscripts, and drawings during his short lifetime. His original library, collected before his death on the Titanic in 1912, consists of approximately 3,300 volumes housed in the Memorial Room. The tours will be Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m.

The Harvard Seal
Harvard Charter

While all seals have incorporated a shield, embellishments, and inscriptions — including the current motto “Veritas” — design details have varied over time. Also on display will be the Harvard Charter, signed by Gov. Thomas Dudley in 1650.

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

On Friday, prior to the installation ceremony, from noon–1:30 p.m., Houghton Library will offer a behind-the-scenes tour of its literary-themed rooms dedicated to Emily Dickinson, Amy Lowell, John Keats, and Samuel Johnson. Highlights from the library’s collection of rare books and manuscripts will also be on view.

After the block party on Friday, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., visit the University Archives in Pusey Library for an up-close look at the insignia presented to Bacow as part of the ceremony: the Harvard Charter of 1650, perhaps the most significant document in Harvard’s history; College Book 1, the oldest surviving record book, with entries dating to the early 17th century; the Harvard seals of 1843 and 1885; and ceremonial keys made in 1846.