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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 1092.9-1092.12

William James papers


Papers of American philosopher and psychologist William James.


  • 1803-1941
  • Majority of material found within 1862-1910


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

A small portion of this collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times. This only includes: bMS Am 1092.9 (4604) 39 empty cases formerly housing James papers.

Conditions Governing Use

Images linked to this finding aid are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.


57 linear feet (50 boxes, 39 volumes)

Contains personal and professional correspondence of William James, mostly letters written by him, including over 1300 to his wife Alice and over 400 to his brother Henry; and compositions including manuscripts, drafts, and notes on psychology, philosophy, religion, and Herbert Spencer; as well as addresses, lectures, articles, diaries, 1865-1910 (with gaps), address books and notebooks with reading lists, sketches, and notes James took as a student.

Collection also contains correspondence of James's parents and wife, early James family papers, daguerreotypes and photographs of the James family, an account book, scrapbooks, clippings, and miscellaneous material. Also includes manuscripts by others including student notes from his classes, and articles on his work; letters to Ralph Barton Perry from James's students and correspondence concerning Perry's The Thought and Character of William James; correspondence of Henry James III in his search for William James letters; and printed material about William James.

Also includes letters from Mary Temple to John Chipman Gray.

Biographical / Historical

James was an American philosopher and psychologist.


  1. I. bMS Am 1092.9: Correspondence
  2. ___A. Letters to William James
  3. ___B. Letters from William James
  4. ___C. Letters to Henry James Sr.
  5. ___D. Letters from Henry James Sr.
  6. ___E. Letters to Alice Howe (Gibbens) James
  7. ___F. Other letters
  8. ___G. Early James family letters
  9. II. bMS Am 1092.9: Compositions
  10. ___A. Boxed manuscripts
  11. ______i. Papers on psychology
  12. ______ii. Papers on philosophy
  13. ______iii. Papers on religion
  14. ______iv. Notes and papers on Herbert Spencer
  15. ______v. Notebooks
  16. ______vi. Miscellaneous papers
  17. ___B. Bound manuscripts
  18. ______i. Compositions
  19. ______ii. Diaries, etc.
  20. ______iii. Newspaper clippings, reprints of articles and drawings by William James, diplomas, degrees, etc.
  21. ___C. Other papers
  22. ______i. Printed matter concerning William James
  23. ______ii. Miscellaneous material concerning William James
  24. ______iii. Other compositions
  25. ______iv. James family photographs
  26. ______v. Miscellaneous papers
  27. III. bMS Am 1092.10: Papers concerning William James
  28. ___A. Letters to Ralph Barton Perry from students of William James
  29. ___B. Letters to Henry James 3rd
  30. ___C. Letters from Henry James 3rd
  31. ___D. Letters to Ralph Barton Perry
  32. ___E. Letters from Ralph Barton Perry
  33. ___F. Letters to Alice Howe (Gibbens) James
  34. ___G. Other letters
  35. ___H. Miscellaneous
  36. IV. bMS Am 1092.11: Letters from Alice Howe (Gibbens) James
  37. V. bMS Am 1092.11: Other letters
  38. VI. bMS Am 1092.12: Mary Temple letters to John Chipman Gray

Physical Location

b, MS, pf, Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry James III.

Separated Materials

Some materials formerly housed in bound volumes. When collection was reorganized the materials were removed and the empty volumes saved as: bMS Am 1092.9 (4604). They were later sent to the Harvard Depository. Consult Houghton Reading Room staff for access.

General note

A small portion of this collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.

Processing Information

Processed by: Patrick K. Miehe.

With the exception of the notebooks and bound compositions, which have been grouped separately and arranged in chronological order, the compositions of William James have been separated according to subject matter (papers on psychology, philosophy, religion, etc.) and arranged in alphabetical order by title. Notations (e.g. N5 or B3) to the far right of the individual entries refer to call numbers given the compositions prior to the completion of this catalogue.

James, William, 1842-1910. William James papers: 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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