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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Richardson 51

William King Richardson papers


Contains personal and academic papers and letters as well as materials relating to Richardson's collection of manuscripts, incunabula, and printed materials.


  • Creation: 1874-1951

Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

A portion of this collection 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.


2.05 linear feet (3 boxes)

Collection includes letters from William King Richardson to his family (the majority of the correspondence is to his mother) about his undergraduate life at Oxford, including his membership in the St. Vincent's Club, the Balliol Eights crew team, and the "Mods" and "Greats" academic curricula. Richardson's travels in England and to the continent with his mother, his sisters Grace and Fanny, and Uncle Roland Lincoln ("Uncle Dudley") are also described in his letters. The collection also includes academic materials accumulated by Richardson: class journals; rule books; admission information; examination documents; honors and awards; club records; and lecture lists. Additional materials include materials related to Richardson's collection of manuscripts, incunabula, and other printed materials. This includes collection lists of specific types of materials and a copy of his library catalog, as well as numerous bookplates.

Scope and Contents

One item bears dates of 1891-1930.

Biographical / Historical

Richardson graduated from Harvard College in 1880 and went abroad with his family that summer, intending to travel with them, but instead he was persuaded to begin at Oxford that fall. He graduated in 1884 with a double first at Balliol. The following year, he entered Harvard Law School. He began collecting manuscripts, incunabula, and printed materials in 1908 at the Lord Amherst of Hackney sale, and continued to collect materials up to his death. He bequeathed his collection to Harvard College Library, and it was accessioned by Houghton Library, where it was received in 1951.


Collection is minimally processed. Materials are arranged in four series: Correspondence; Academic Papers; Awards; and Collection lists, catalog, and bookplates.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Series I-III: 2018M-033. Donated from William King Richardson via Lawrence Curtis in 1954. Series IV: 2016M-1. Gift of the estate of William King Richardson, 1952.

General note

Typescript transcripts of letters (with carbon copies), from his original letters, now destroyed, written while a student at the University of Oxford from 17 April 1881 to 2 November 1884.

Processing Information

Processed by Magdaline Lawhorn, 2018 September. Series IV added by Betts Coup, 2019 May.

William King Richardson papers
Magdaline Lawhorn and Betts Coup
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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