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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2638

George Sarton additional papers


Additional papers of the American historian of science, George Sarton. Also some papers concerning George Sarton, assembled by his daughter, May Sarton,


  • 1899-1988

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English and French.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

The majority 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. Item (54) is shelved flat and stored at Houghton.


2.5 linear feet (6 boxes)

Includes George Sarton's autograph manuscript notes and compositions, printed materials by and about Sarton, photographs for publication, a few personal photographs, and a little correspondence. Also includes some correspondence about Sarton, sent to his daughter May Sarton after his death in 1956.

There are extensive typescripts of a planned book, The humanity of an historian. Informal essays by George Sarton, and correspondence and an autograph manuscript draft of a biography of his wife, Eleanor Mabel Elwes. Also includes notes for his History of Science, a commonplace book primarily composed of various lists, an address book, biographical miscellany, materials concerning the Dirk Struik Defense Committee, and a few financial papers for OSIRIS and ISIS.

Biographical / Historical

George Alfred Leon Sarton (1884-1956) was an historian of science and professor at Harvard University. He founded and edited Isis, an international review devoted to the history and philosophy of science; studied Arabic and Islam in the Middle East; and lectured at many universities in the United States and Europe. Sarton was born in Belgium and emigrated to the U.S. in 1915. His daughter was May Sarton (1912-1995), the American poet, novelist, and memoirist.


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. George Sarton compositions, notes, and correspondence
  2. II. Biographical materials concerning George Sarton
  3. III. May Sarton correspondence and other papers concerning George Sarton

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

95M-53. Bequest of May Sarton; received: 1996 January 16.

Related Materials

For additional George Sarton papers held by the Houghton Library and the Harvard University Archives, see HOLLIS and OASIS.

The George Sarton library was transferred to Printed Books, *2005-57.

General note

The majority of this collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Part of the MS Storage project, 2008-2009.

Processing Information

This finding aid was revised in 2023 to address outdated and harmful descriptive language. During that revision, contextualizing processing notes were added to the description of one item. For more information on reparative archival description at Harvard, see Harvard Library’s Statement on Harmful Language in Archival Description.

Sarton, George, 1884-1956. George Sarton additional papers, 1899-1988: 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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