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SUB-SERIES Identifier: UAIII 50.15.30

Alphabetical catalogs, 1765-circa 1784

Scope and Contents

This subseries contains four alphabetical catalogs (all manuscript) of the Harvard College Library's holdings, as well as supplements to one of those catalogs and the sole remaining leaf of another alphabetical catalog. Andrew Eliot's Catalogus Librorum: An Alphabetical List of the Books belonging to the Library of Harv’d College, was the first catalog of Harvard's library to be compiled after the fire of 1764 destroyed most of the contents of the former library, as well as the first of Harvard's library catalogs to be organized alphabetically. It was initially compiled by librarian Andrew Eliot, following a November 26, 1765 Harvard Corporation vote that "Mr. Eliot M.A. be allowed for reducing the Books of the new library into alphabetic order, & transcribing several copies of them the sum of twenty pounds." Besides Eliot's entries, there are many additional entries, written in at least two additional hands, possibly those of Josiah Eliot and Amos Adams. This catalog was in use for about three years, until it became so crowded that supplements were necessary. This subseries includes two supplements to the Catalogus Librorum: a paper-bound volume and a folio manuscript.

Also included are alphabetical catalogs compiled by William Mayhew and Amos Adams. On November 30, 1769, the Harvard Corporation chose William Mayhew as the College Librarian and voted that "in consideration of [...] being excus'd from any share in the Government of the College 'till the next Commencement, it is expected that he employ himself in preparing a catalogue of the Library against that time." Mayhew presumably created his catalog in 1770 - and possibly into 1771 - as the Corporation voted on June 24, 1771 "that the sum of five pounds be allowed and paid to Mr. Mayhew the Librarian for his extraordinary services in preparing a Catalogue of the Library, being at the rate of four shillings a day." The Reverend Amos Adams, who served as minister of the First Church in Roxbury and as a member of Harvard's Board of Overseers, began yet another alphabetical catalog in 1771.

In addition, this subseries contains an alphabetical catalog which is believed to represent the books brought to Concord when the College was relocated there during the American Revolutionary War, the one remaining loose leaf of an alphabetical catalog believed to have been created in 1779, an incomplete alphabetical catalog of library holdings in 1783, and an alphabetical catalog titled "Books not readily found in the General Catalogue," presumed to have been compiled in the 1780s.


  • 1765-circa 1784

Researcher Access

The Early Catalogs and Shelflists of the Harvard College Library are open for research.


4.77 cubic feet (1.5 legal document boxes, 5 flat boxes, 16 volumes and 1 microfilm box)


Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

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