Can I consult Emily Dickinson’s manuscripts and personal books?

Dickinson’s very fragile poems and letters are restricted, but digital copies of our collection and those at other libraries are available through the Emily Dickinson Archive.

A facsimile edition of her fascicles is also available: The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson: A Facsimile Edition. 2 vols. Ed. R. W. Franklin (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981). Her Herbarium was published by Harvard University Press and digitized. In rare cases where the nature of a scholar’s work requires seeing some of the original manuscripts, application must be made to the Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts for permission to work with individual items.

The books from the Dickinson family library are also fragile, and access to them is only by permission of the Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts. Keep in mind that unrestricted copies of the same editions can often be found in the general Houghton collection. To see a complete list of the books in the Dickinson family library in HOLLIS, click on Starts With/Browse, select Browse = Other Call Number and enter EDR in the search box (EDR indicates an item in the Emily Dickinson Room at Houghton). There is also a finding aid that details the contents of the Dickinson family library.

Dickinson family papers (i.e. manuscripts other than those in the hand of Emily Dickinson) are not restricted. Readers may see them without prior curatorial approval.

The Emily Dickinson Room, where most of the Dickinson books, as well as furniture and other objects from the Dickinson family are on display, is shown to visitors regularly on Friday at 2:00 pm and at other times by appointment.