Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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The Manuscripts Collection


Walt Whitman, age 54. Phillips and Taylor, 1873.

The Center's general manuscript collections focus on British, French, and American literary materials of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Any given archive may include correspondence, diaries, journals, notebooks, notes, manuscripts, and galley or page proofs. Outside this primary focus of the Center's collecting mission, there are also manuscript materials from the medieval and Renaissance periods; collections of writers from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, and Central and South America; materials important to the history of science; archives of publishers, literary agencies, and periodicals; original musical scores; and important documents in the recent cultural and political history of the U.S., such as the Watergate papers of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and the papers of actor Robert De Niro.

The history of the manuscript collections at The University of Texas begins with acquisitions of the period 1920-1957, including the libraries and attendant manuscript collections of George A. Aitken and R. H. Griffith, which established the University's strengths in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the wide-ranging collection of Miriam Lutcher Stark, with important manuscripts of Romantic and Victorian writers, including Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, and the Brontë sisters.

The manuscript collections entered a new era in 1957, the year in which the Humanities Research Center was founded. The enormous T. Edward Hanley Library, with its wealth of 20th-century manuscripts (including those of G. B. Shaw and D. H. Lawrence), established the Center as a leading library for the study of modern English and American literature. During the 1960s and early 1970s, the collections underwent explosive growth, as the Center added to its existing strengths and established new collecting areas. The Center complemented its extensive manuscript collections of Evelyn Waugh, Christopher Morley, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and others with the purchase of the authors' own libraries. The Alfred A. Knopf Inc. archive arrived in 1969, the first of many archives of publishers and literary agents.

A particular focus of the last decades has been the acquisition of the personal papers of contemporary English and American authors, such as Julian Barnes, Don DeLillo, Penelope Fitzgerald, John Fowles, Doris Lessing, Norman Mailer, David Mamet, Peter Matthiessen, Arthur Miller, and James Salter. Special focus on the British theater and Jewish writers has resulted in the acquisition of the papers of David Hare, Tom Stoppard, Arnold Wesker, Dan Jacobson, Bernard Malamud, and Isaac Bashevis Singer, among others. Today, the Ransom Center collections contain over 42 million manuscripts.


Please consult the Using the Collections. Collections that are not cataloged in online finding aids may be consulted through a card catalog in the Reading and Viewing Rooms. Remote users who are unable to visit the Center in person should contact the Reference staff.


The Reading Room Will Be Closed:

Monday, May 27
Thursday, July 4

Always closed on Sundays

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