Construction fence goes up

Paul Robeson as Othello and Danish sheet music featuring Anna May Wong.

Houghton's year-long renovation promises stunning results, but only after a long period of dust, construction vehicles, and all manner of debris and flotsam. Safeguarding other areas in Harvard Yard, as well as pedestrians using walkways that pass Houghton, requires us to install a protective fence around the construction site that will remain until the majority of the work is complete.

The famous imperative of William Morris (1834–1896) is to "Have nothing ... that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." The fence around Houghton is certainly useful but not beautiful, so we decided to decorate. Naturally, we turned to our collections for images we hope will enliven the fence and to remind passersby of the diversity of our holdings and their potential for research and teaching.

Because it's a bit odd to have captions on a fence, we created this page so interested viewers can learn the titles of each item and their call numbers. Whether you've arrived here via the QR code on the fence itself or from exploring the renovation website, we hope you enjoy the images.

Facing Loeb House (from L to R)

Shakespeare First Folio, Jamaica Kincaid laptop, and Sylvia Plath recording
Design by Jeff Nguyen
  • William Shakespeare (1564–1616). Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies, 1623 (known as "the First Folio"). HEW 7.11.1.
  • Sylvia Plath (1932–1963). Liner notes on sound tape reel container, 1959. PS3566.L27 A6 1959x.
  • Jamaica Kincaid (b. 1949). Laptop computers. MS Am 3097.

Virginia Woolf at Monk's House and The Pictorial Autobiography of Half Moon
  • Virginia Woolf at Monk's House, 1931. MS Thr 560 (5).
  • The Pictorial Autobiography of Half Moon, An Uncpapa Sioux Chief, 1868–1876. MS Am 2337.

Audrey Hepburn, Bert Williams and George Walker
  • Angus McBean (1904–1990). Audrey Hepburn, 1950. MS Thr 581.
  • Bert Williams and George Walker, ca. 1902–1906. MS Thr 1848.

New Invented Native Alphabet of Western Africa, Shāhnāmah, and Emerson-White Book of Hours
  • Fan Dawo Kelondo (Liberian, life dates unknown). New Invented Native Alphabet of Western Africa, 1834. MS Vai 1.
  • Firdawsī (ca. 940–1020). Shāhnāmah, 1718–1721. MS Persian 78.
  • Emerson-White Book of Hours, ca. 1480. MS Typ 443.

Facing Quincy Street (from L to R)

Europe, a Prophecy and De Revolutionibus Orbium Celestium
  • William Blake (1757–1827). Europe, a Prophecy, 1794. Typ 6500.41c.
  • Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543). De Revolutionibus Orbium Celestium, 1543. GC5.C7906.543d.

Study for “Alice's Evidence”
  • John Tenniel (1820–1914). Study for “Alice's Evidence,” ca. 1864. MS Eng 718.6 (12).

Facing Lamont Library (from L to R)

Paradiese bei Soest and Carolina Parakeet
  • Paradiese bei Soest. Gradual, ca. 1380. MS Typ 1095.
  • John James Audubon (1785–1851). Carolina Parakeet, 1811. MS Am 21.

Paul Robeson as Othello and Danish sheet music featuring Anna May Wong
  • Paul Robeson (1898–1976) as Othello, 1943. MS Thr 612 (418).
  • Danish sheet music featuring Anna May Wong, 1935. MS Thr 1598.

Thai Fortune-Telling Manuscript and War Department Wanted Poster
  • Thai Fortune-Telling Manuscript, early 19th century. MS Typ 439.
  • War Department. Wanted Poster, 1865. US 102.9 (43).