The Royce Library Recovery Project

Josiah Royce, Candid photograph, Reading book, c42 years of age, 1895. (Photo by JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images)

Josiah Royce, Candid photograph, Reading book, c42 years of age, 1895. (Photo by JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images)

Scholars from all over the world come to Harvard University in order to access archival materials relating to the American philosopher Josiah Royce (1855-1916). In addition to the Royce Papers at Harvard University Archives, scholars are also attracted to Houghton Library and Robbins Library because they house more than a dozen books formerly owned and annotated by Royce. My recent findings demonstrate that these volumes are but a fraction of books and pamphlets from Royce’s personal library that were donated to Harvard College Library (HCL).

According to the HCL library donation records, Mrs. Katherine Head Royce made a series of donations to HCL shortly after the death of her husband. Further documentation  shows that Royce, himself, gave to HCL during his tenure with the Philosophy department. Combined these records suggest that more than 989 volumes formerly belonging to Royce reside somewhere within the Harvard University library system. In response to this recent discovery, I am embarking on an archival and library-based project that seeks to locate, identify, and catalog volumes that formerly belonged to Royce. Of the estimated 989 volumes from his personal library, I have identified and catalogued 488 (see “Schelling Collection” and “June 15th Binder List“).

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 First I will identify and locate two subsets of the larger collection: the “Schelling Collection” and what I am calling the “June 15th Bindery List.” The next step  is to physically inspect these volumes for distinctive markings that either associate the volume with Royce directly (i.e. Royce bookplates, autographs, inscriptions dedicated to Royce, and his distinctive markings/marginalia) or indirectly through library markings (i.e. affiliated bookplates, ink donation date stamps, etc.). Once I identify a volume as being formerly owned by Royce, it will be cataloged according to the following identifiers: author, imprint, date of publication, catalog number, bookplate, ink donation date stamp, autographs and inscriptions, front and back cover annotations, markings, and marginalia. Upon completing the first phase of the project, I will send updated data to the relevant catalogers so that provenance records for each HOLLIS entry will be current.