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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 1162-1162.9

Thomas Wentworth Higginson papers


Diaries, notebooks, journals, and autograph compositions of the American writer and abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson.


  • Creation: 1856-1911

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


2 linear feet (9 volumes and 3 boxes)

Includes 47 autograph diaries, a memoranda book from Higginson's trip to Kansas in 1856, field book of observations on nature, and other autograph compositions. Also includes transcripts of 33 African-American "Negro songs" (in another hand, with annotations by Higginson), and early recollections of James Russell Lowell, among others.

Biographical / Historical

Higginson was an American writer, Unitarian minister, and leader in the abolitionist movement. He was a colonel of the First South Carolina Volunteers (the first African-American regiment in the Civil War), an advocate of women's suffrage, and a close friend of the poet Emily Dickinson. A lifelong radical, in his old age Higginson joined with Jack London and Upton Sinclair to found the Intercollegiate Socialist Society.


Arranged by call number.

Physical Location

f, b

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired from various sources at various times. See items for full acquisition information.

Processing Information

This finding aid was revised in April 2024 to address outdated and harmful descriptive language. During that revision, contextualizing processing notes were added to the description of an item. For more information on reparative archival description at Harvard, see Harvard Library’s Statement on Harmful Language in Archival Description.

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 1823-1911. Thomas Wentworth Higginson papers, 1856-1911: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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