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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 3110

Susanne Langer papers


Correspondence and compositions of Susanne Langer.


  • 1895-1985

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English and German.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

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.


38.75 linear feet (30 boxes)

Includes: correspondence (including correspondence between Leonard Langer and HCL about the Langer papers), Wilson College honorary degree, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences certificate, and much else.

The collection contains fewer manuscript materials for the earlier books Langer wrote as opposed to the later. For example there are very few manuscript materials for Philosophy in a New Key or for Feeling and Form, but many for Mind. Cross-references have been put on pieces of paper and inserted into the collection in a few places. Often Langer's dating and titles on the folder do not refer to everything in it. She often pulled various pieces together to create her own lecture or such later. Small pieces of papers have been put together into white envelopes and described contents on envelope.

Biographical / Historical

Susanne Langer (1895-1985) was an American woman philosopher who wrote extensively on linguistic analysis and aesthetics. She received an A.B. from Radcliffe College in 1920, an M.A. in 1924, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1926. From 1927-1942 she was a tutor in philosophy at Radcliffe. She also taught at: Wellesley, Smith, University of Delaware, New York University, Columbia University, Connecticut College, and others.


This collection is loosely arranged into 4 series:

  1. I. Correspondence
  2. II. Compositions
  3. III. Unsorted Materials
  4. IV. Index Card Files

Physical Location

Harvard Depository


Gift of Mr. Leonard C. R. Langer, 1985-1995, 2003.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

84M-43, 91M-78, 93M-67, 95M-1. Gift of Leonard C. R. Langer, received: 1985-1995.

2002M-65 (b). Gift of Leonard C. R. Langer, received: 2003 May 16.

2003M-37. Gift of Leonard C. R. Langer, received: 2003 December 2.

Processing Information

Collection was minimally processed by: Donald Dryden, Bonnie Salt, 1997-2001.

Current finding aid made available online in 2016 with use of existing description, no further arrangement done at that time.

Donald Dryden initially sorted and arranged the Langer papers. The correspondence was preliminarily sorted by Harvard work-study students. There is still a section of unsorted correspondence. Mr. Dryden went through the entire collection and rough sorted all of it, but spent most of his time fine-tuning the Langer composition section. He removed most but not all of the paper clips; he often replaced these clips with sheets of paper wrapped around sections of pages; he moved materials into acid free temporary folders and labeled most in some way, often with all the information taken from the old folders; he added titles in [ ] when he supplied the title. He also made a very preliminary study of the index cards and wrote down a possible arrangement/description scheme for them. In October of 1997, B. Salt spent a week quickly sorting a portion of the collection, to facilitate use by readers.

Langer, Susanne Katherina Knauth, 1895-1985. Susanne Langer papers, 1895-1985 (MS Am 3110): Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
January 12, 2017
Description rules
Language of description
Initial processing made possible with grant from Leonard Langer.

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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