You are here:Home/Research/ Library and Archives/ Rare Book Collection

Rare Book Collection

The Rare Book Collection was begun in the mid-twentieth century by Mildred Bliss and reflects the areas of specialized research conducted at Dumbarton Oaks.

The collection exists to acquire, arrange, describe, preserve, and make available books of enduring value, both for intellectual content and as historical artifacts, to support the research needs of scholars at Dumbarton Oaks and beyond. It has the responsibility to protect materials in its care from damage due to misuse, climatic conditions, pests or other agents of destruction, and from problems inherent in the volumes themselves. There is an active program of preservation and conservation.

The Reading Room is open to the public from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Search the Collection Explore Highlights

Thumbnail for Garden Archives

Garden Archives

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.

Thumbnail for RB Digitization Project

Digitized Rare Books

Materials from the Rare Book Collection have been selectively digitized. Search the available titles by keyword or area of study. Full digital facsimiles are available for some titles.

Thumbnail for Autograph Letter Collection

Autograph Letter Collection

The Rare Book Collection includes a remarkable assortment of autograph letters from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century cultural notables. Taken together, the letters speak to the tastes and beliefs of the early twentieth century and to the question of who was thought to be a sufficiently important writer, artist, or thinker.

Seed Catalogues Tile

Seed Catalogues

The Rare Book Collection houses a small but significant collection of European and American seed catalogues.