… There are now in the library more than twenty thousand perhaps more than thirty thousand unbound pamphlets, most of which have been added by my own exertions & catalogued by myself. The extra labor it has cost me has been very great, but I know, that this collection will be exceedingly valuable hereafter. An eagerness will be manifested by posterity to look into every thing of a permanent or ephemeral character which can throw any light upon the workings, civil, moral, theological, benevolent, social, etc. etc. during the existence of the Federal Constitution…
Source: Excerpt from the January 20, 1853 entry in the private journal of John Langdon Sibley, Harvard's Assistant Librarian from 1825-1826 and 1841-1856, Librarian from 1856-1877, and Librarian, Emeritus from 1877-1885. John Langdon Sibley's diary (known as Sibley's private journal), 1846-1882 (HUG 1791.72.10), transcription.
As one of a few institutions to have consistently collected pamphlets published during the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries, Harvard holds tens of thousands of these pamphlets, covering diverse and eclectic topics. Pamphlets are ephemeral publications, often by small presses with short print runs and limited distribution, many of which have been difficult for scholars to consult as a scholarly resource because of scarcity and lack of detailed description. The Pamphlet Digitization Program of the Harvard College Library is a long-term effort to catalog and digitize these substantial pamphlet holdings to provide an enduring resource. As a fully cataloged and text-searchable collection, digitized pamphlets offer a unique opportunity for scholars to explore and trace historical events, political movements, economic developments, social changes, rhetoric and debate from a wide array of perspectives, including independent voices and those from established institutions and organizations. In addition to conventional pamphlet publications, this collection also includes other materials such as government documents, speeches, extracts from journals, reports, manifestos, and various proceedings.
Areas currently covered in this digital collection include Latin America, World War I, Sociology, the Boer War, and Brittany. As additional pamphlets are cataloged and digitized, they will be added to this online collection. For more complete bibliographic data, please see the HOLLIS catalog. To search only the Latin American Pamphlets please see the Latin American Pamphlet Digital Collection.