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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2532

Carl Tilden Keller collection concerning Sir Aurel Stein


Papers relating to explorer Sir Aurel Stein, assembled by his friend, Carl Tilden Keller.


  • Creation: 1922-1945

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English. Some items in Chinese and Uighur.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

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.


1.5 linear feet (3 boxes)

Papers include correspondence between Keller and Stein and among Keller's circle of friends who were scholars or patrons also interested in Stein's archaeological expeditions. Some correspondence pertains to Stein's 1929 series of lectures given at the Lowell Institute.

In January of 1930, Harvard University (cooperatively via Havard's Fogg Art Museum and the Harvard Yenching Institute) agreed to financially back Stein as an independent contractor for his explorations into Chinese Turkestan (Central Asia). They also agreed to allow the cooperation of the British Museum. Series II of this collection reflects Harvard's involvement with Stein and also includes Stein's correspondence with British, Chinese, and American officials, related to Stein's political situation in China. There is correspondence between Keller and other Bostonians connected to Harvard, especially including Paul J. (Paul Joseph) Sachs. There are copies of official reports, telegrams, payroll records, and memorandum that detail the events that led to Stein abandoning his expedition in Chinese Turkestan (Central Asia). Included are financial records related to costs of the expedition and information regarding Harvard funding, as well as clippings and reprints by and about Stein.

Many of Stein's autograph letters are poor, faint, and fragile carbon copies, and many documents and letters of others are not original, but are typescript, and occasionally manuscript, transcripts.

Biographical / Historical

Carl Tilden Keller (1872-1955) was a Harvard College graduate (AB 1894), an accountant, partner with Lybrand, Ross Bros. & Montgomery in Boston, and a book collector. In 1898 he married Marian Mandell Keller (d.1954). He was a vice chairman and trustee of the Harvard Yenching Institute. As a collector of rare materials, Keller was especially known for collecting rare editions of Cervantes' Don Quixote and for attempting to obtain translations of Don Quixote in all major languages of the world. Keller was a friend and supporter of Sir Aurel Stein.

Sir (Marc) Aurel Stein (1862-1943) was a Hungarian born, British scholar, Indologist, archaeologist, explorer, and geographer. In 1883, he received a Ph.D. in Indology and Old Persian from the Universität Tübingen. Stein's archaeological expeditions eventually took him to the Silk Road, the overland trading route between China and the West. He also retraced Alexander the Great's eastern campaigns. His expeditions took him to India, Pakistan, China, Chinese Turkestan, Iraq, and Persia. Stein's greatest discoveries were at Tun-huang where he found the "Caves of the Thousand Buddhas," which contained an incredible store of manuscripts and frescoes. The caves had served as a storehouse from the 5th to the 10th centuries but had been walled off since the 11th century. Stein's discovery is said to be the greatest archeological find ever made in Asia. Some of Stein's later explorations were funded by Harvard University and he also presented lectures at Harvard's Lowell Institute. Stein died in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1943, at age eighty, just before commencing an expedition.


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. Carl Tilden Keller papers concerning Sir Aurel Stein
  2. ___A. Carl Tilden Keller correspondence
  3. ___B. Other correspondence
  4. ___C. Other materials
  5. II. Sir Aurel Stein papers
  6. ___A. Sir Aurel Stein correspondence
  7. ___B. Other correspondence
  8. ___C. Other materials

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

45CM-3. Gift of Mrs. I. M. Brown (via Marion Mandell Keller (married to Carl T. Keller), of Boston, Massachusetts) Oxford, England; received: 1945 December 1.

According to labels on the packages when received at Houghton, this material was divided into two separate groupings that we have maintained:

  1. Series I: "Files of correspondence between Carl T. Keller... and Sir Aurel Stein. This correspondence dates from 1925 to the date of Sir Aurel's death 10/26/1943."
  2. Series II: "Files of correspondence regarding Sir Aurel Stein's exploration sponsored in a large part by Harvard University. This material was sent to Mr. Keller from England and arrived in September 1945. It is intended for Harvard Lib."

Related Materials

See also:

General note

This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.

Processing Information

Processed by: Olympia Sosangelis

Processing Information

Minor change made to emphasize woman's full name.

Keller, Carl Tilden,1872-1955, collector. Carl Tilden Keller collection concerning Sir Aurel Stein, 1922-1945: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules
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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