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Dumbarton Oaks Library and Archives

  • Library, Exterior View from the Southwest

  • ICFA Archive Stacks

  • Dumbarton Oaks Concerto

Dumbarton Oaks welcomes scholars and advanced students to use its library collections and archives

The Research Library has strong holdings in our three dedicated areas of study—Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and Garden and Landscape Studies—and related fields. In addition to supporting the research of staff and fellows, the Library also admits readers as well as researchers who come to Dumbarton Oaks on shorter visits. At a time when libraries around the world face increasing pressures, the Dumbarton Oaks Library continues to pursue a strong acquisitions initiative, and to find ways to make our holdings available to a wider community of scholars.

The Rare Book Collection originated with Mildred Barnes Bliss’s aim to preserve illustrated books from being broken up for individual plates; it is especially strong on works of landscape architecture, botany, and horticulture, and includes botanical illustrations, manuscripts and drawings. Reflecting the research focus of Dumbarton Oaks, the collection also includes facsimiles of Byzantine and medieval manuscripts, early printed editions of Byzantine texts, and works on the art and archeology of the pre-contact peoples of Mesoamerica, lower Central America, and Andean South America.

The Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) was established to document and preserve material from fieldwork and research projects at Byzantine sites and monuments supported by Dumbarton Oaks. In addition, ICFA supports scholarship in Byzantine Studies by preserving and providing access to documents and images pertaining to art, architecture, and archaeology in a variety of media. ICFA is also the repository for the Pre-Columbian Photographs and Fieldwork Archives and the Garden and Landscape Photographs and Design Archives.

The mission of the Dumbarton Oaks Archives is to inventory, conserve, store, and make accessible the institute’s past, current, and future records and artifacts. Initiated by Archivist James N. Carder in 1999, the Dumbarton Oaks Archives consists primarily of architectural plans and drawings, historical papers, administrative documents, documents pertaining to the institute’s fellows and scholars, and images of people, events, buildings, interiors, and the Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks. The Dumbarton Oaks Archives also sponsors the Oral History Project. Begun in 2008, the project comprises interviews with individuals significant to the mission and history of Dumbarton Oaks.

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