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Library and Special Collections Resources

Resources for scholars in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies

See below a list of resources for scholars in the general and special collections

For general questions, contact .

Byzantine Studies

General Collection

From its inception in 1936 as the Blisses’ reference collection to support research in Byzantine and medieval studies, the Byzantine library collection has grown to more than 154,000 volumes and 625 journal subscriptions. Microfilms, microfiches, maps, and an offprint file are included. Almost two thousand microfilm rolls reproduce medieval and early modern manuscripts, the originals of which are held in institutions around the world. This collection may be searched in the manuscripts-on-microfilm database.

Rare Book Collection

The holdings in the Rare Book Collection related to Byzantine studies include black-and-white and full-color facsimiles of Byzantine manuscripts; illustrated studies of Byzantine art and architecture; early travelers' accounts; eighteenth- and nineteenth-century liturgical books published in Greek and Karamanlidika; and early printed books that contain editio princeps or historically important studies of Byzantine texts. Select titles from the collections have been digitized, in whole or in part.

Materials in the Rare Book Collection may be accessed by scheduling an appointment.

Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives

The Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) holds records and papers that illustrate the administrative, fieldwork, and research activities of scholars or organizations prominent in the field of Byzantine studies. Notable collections include documentation of the restoration projects undertaken by Thomas Whittemore and his Byzantine Institute, and the Black and White Mounted Photograph Collection, a visual encyclopedia of Byzantine monuments and works of art. Materials in ICFA may be accessed by scheduling an appointment.

Garden and Landscape Studies

General Collection

The garden library collection began with the personal library of Mrs. Bliss. Holdings now include twenty-eight thousand books and pamphlets covering the history of gardens and landscape design. The largest emphasis has been on gardens of the Western world, especially the United States and Europe, but collecting in recent years has included gardens of the Islamic world, China, Japan, Australia, and Africa. Many of the volumes are located in the Rare Book Collection.

Rare Book Collection

The core Rare Book Collection was formed by Mrs. Mildred Bliss in the 1950s with advice from Beatrix Farrand, designer of the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens, to function as a resource for the studies in landscape architecture program. There are over ten thousand items in the collection, including books, manuscripts, photographs, prints, and drawings connected to all aspects of the fields of garden and landscape history, such as botanical illustration, herbals, floras, and architectural treatises; Bliss/Farrand correspondence directly related to the design of the gardens; and music manuscripts that include Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks Concerto. Select titles from the collections have been digitized, in whole or in part.

Materials in the Rare Book Collection may be accessed by scheduling an appointment.

The Dumbarton Oaks Garden Archives makes publicly available over six thousand individual pieces of correspondence, drawings, and photographs. These original materials have been supplemented by histories of the garden areas, biographies of individuals and firms, and sections on contemporary art installations.

Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives

The Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives’ Garden and Landscape collections were mostly acquired in the 2000s and contain maps, plans, aerial photographs, and notes pertaining to gardens, landscape design, and the study thereof. They also include early film footage of the Dumbarton Oaks gardens which has been digitized and is available to view online. Materials in ICFA may be accessed by scheduling an appointment.

Pre-Columbian Studies

General Collection

The Pre-Columbian library collection was founded in 1962 with Robert Woods Bliss's personal collection of books on ancient American art. This collection of two thousand volumes included rare and important works in the fields of Pre-Columbian art history, anthropology, and archaeology. The collection has since grown to more than thirty-three thousand volumes, covering the Pre-Columbian and early colonial cultures of Mexico, Central America, and South America. It also includes a large offprint collection and a growing number of dissertations and theses from Peru, Colombia, Mexico, and other countries in Latin America.

Rare Book Collection

Materials in the Rare Book Collection supporting the Pre-Columbian studies cover the art and archaeology of the pre-contact peoples of Mesoamerica, lower Central America, and Andean South America. Some highlights are the archaeological accounts of the nineteenth and early twentieth century; eighteenth- and nineteenth-century travel accounts pertaining to Latin America; grammars, vocabularies, dictionaries, confessionals, and liturgies used by the Spanish priests in the early colonial period in the Americas; and facsimiles of Pre-Hispanic and early colonial pictorial codices. Select titles from the collections have been digitized, in whole or in part.

Materials in the Rare Book Collection may be accessed by scheduling an appointment.

Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives

The Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives houses collections pertaining to Pre-Columbian studies both administered by the library and by the Dumbarton Oaks Museum. Highlights include the Christopher Donnan and Donna McClelland Moche Archive which is an exhaustive resource on Moche fineline iconography, the Yuri Knorozov papers, which document the efforts by the Russian scholar to crack the Maya code, and the Dellenback Archive of stone sculpture from Colombia. Materials in ICFA may be accessed by scheduling an appointment.

*Part of the Pre-Columbian Photographs and Fieldwork Archives, administered by the Dumbarton Oaks Museum ().

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