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SERIES Identifier: UAV 630.271

Records of the Harvard College Observatory : Photographs, 1887-approximately 1930? and undated


These photographs depict the activities, personnel, and research of the Harvard College Observatory, including Observatory personnel, buildings, equipment, and surrounding landscape in Cambridge and at observatory stations in Colorado, California, possibly Jamaica, and South America (chiefly Peru). Research was primarily astronomical, but involved some meteorological observation to determine where the Observatory stations should be sited. Approximately 600 of the photographs depict South America.


  • 1887- 1930? and undated


Conditions on use and access

The collection is open for research. Permission of the University Archives is required for photocopying or publishing.


1200 photographs
4.7 cubic feet (47 flat boxes)
These are a subset of the records of the Harvard College Observatory. These photographs depict the staff activities including travel and research, of the Harvard College Observatory as well as the the landscape, buildings, and equipment in Cambridge and at observatory stations in Colorado, California, Jamaica, and South America (chiefly Peru). Research was primarily astronomical, but also included some meteorological observation.


  1. South American exploration photograph albums
  2. Images arranged by Observatory number,
  3. Imaged arranged by archivists
  4. Non-Harvard images
  5. United States Commission to the Paris Exposition of 1900

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Exact date of acquisition is unknown. It is assumed that these photographs were transferred to the University Archives from the Harvard College Observatory in two or more transfers between approximately 1920 and 1975.

Online access

Most of the photographs have been digitized and are available online. Links accompany detailed descriptions.

Related Archives

  1. Similar images can be found in the Harvard University Archives photograph collections classified under "HUPSF Observatory."
  2. Papers of Solon I. Bailey (HUG 1191)
  3. Additional Records of the Harvard College Observatory (UAV 630.XXX).
Related library resources
  1. The scientific work of the Harvard College Observatory is detailed in Annals of the Astronomical Observatory of Harvard College, much of which has been digitized and is available in hard copy in libraries at Harvard, across the United States and in Canada and Europe.
  2. Search HOLLIS (Harvard's online library system), for related publications held both in the University Archives and other Harvard libraries.

Inventory update

This document last updated 2017 December 19.

Processing Information

Processing Note If possible, archivists transcribed titles and dates in the list of images. Where information was lacking, archivists supplied it. Information supplied by the archivist is in square brackets. Transcriptions came from the captions written on the images or on their cardboard supports, or from partial list that forms a part of the Records of the Harvard College Observatory (UAV 630.271.5).

Archivists organized the photographs into series. Some series follow the original alpha-numeric plate classification scheme of the Harvard College Observatory. Archivists attempted to approximate the Observatory's original classification as they organized the images lacking Observatory numbers.

This inventory was created by Patrice Donoghue and Kate Bowers in 2008-2009.
Link to catalog
Harvard College Observatory. Records of the Harvard College Observatory : Photographs : an inventory
Harvard University Archives

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.

Pusey Library
Harvard Yard
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
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