Collections

Welcome to the collections of Andover-Harvard Theological Library. The library serves as one of the preeminent resources for teaching and research in religion and theology. Many of the traditional book collections are open, arranged by subject, and fun to browse. You will find many classics in the field, hard-to-find gems, and even oddities. The collection supports research at the master's and doctoral levels. It has grown since the mid-nineteenth century to become one of the largest theological collections in the United States. Titles are collected in virtually all western languages. In 1979, Krister Stendahl, in his last report as Dean of the Harvard Divinity School, called the library "our precious tool of tools."

History

The story of religious books at Harvard begins with the founding of Harvard College. Religious books comprised nearly three-quarters of John Harvard's library bequeathed to the College in 1638. By 1852, some years after the Divinity Library was separated from the College Library, the collection stood at 3,495 books. Just eight years later, the total had grown to over 13,000, due primarily to a gift of the library of the Reverend Francis Parkman and to the purchase of the library of Professor G. C. F. Lücke of Göttingen. The latter laid the foundation for the librarys strong collection in German theology. The tradition of enlargement by gifts and regular purchases continues. Today, the library contains almost one half million volumes of books and journals. It also contains microforms, maps, manuscripts, photographs, slides, audio and video cassettes, CDs, and other formats. A collection that was once only printed books is now a collection of books and journals in many formats, including an increasing number of electronic journals and digital collections. Some highlights:

  • 485,000 volumes of books, pamphlets, and journals
  • almost 2,000 current journal subscriptions
  • over 90,000 microforms
  • around 30,000 rare books
  • 23 incunabula; oldest imprint "not after 1475"
  • access to thousands of online electronic resources
  • original papers of Paul Tillich
  • historical archives of the Unitarian Universalist Association

Our Community of Scholarship

The collection at Andover-Harvard Theological Library reflects the diverse and evolving interests of an outstanding community of scholarship over the course of the School's history. What began as a collection mainly for the study of Protestant Christianity is increasingly becoming a collection for the study of American religious pluralism and religion as a global phenomenon. It has been built over the years with the recommendations and donations of many faculty, students, and staff in addition to the regular selections of librarians. To remain strong it continues to depend on these recommendations and gifts.

Book Purchases and Donations

Please use the Recommendation for Purchase form to inform us about books, journals, videos, DVDs, audio CDs, electronic resources, and other materials that you recommend as additions to the Andover-Harvard Theological Library collections. We appreciate your suggestions, and will consider them within the constraints of our collection development policy and budget.

To make a donation, please contact the Librarian.