Harry Ransom Center In Austin, TX

Harry Ransom Center (previously known as Humanities Research Center) is a museum, library, and archive located at UT (University of Texas) in Austin. The Center specializes in collecting cultural and literary artifacts from Europe and the Americas to aid in the advanced study of arts and humanities. The Center has one million rare books, thirty-six million literary manuscripts, five million photographs, and 100,000+ works of art.

Harry Ransom also has galleries that display rotating exhibitions featuring art from the collections. The Center houses a reading room used by scholars and plays a huge role in book publication. In the 2015-2016 academic year, the Center hosted approximately 6,000 research visits prompting the publication of 145+ books.

Brief History

Harry Ransom Center dates back to 1957. The Center was established by Harry Ransom with the aim of expanding the manuscript and rare books holdings of UT Austin (University of Texas) in Austin. Harry Ransom acquired major collections like the Edward Hanley Collection, Norman Bel Geddes, and Edward Alexander Parsons collections. Ransom served as a director for the Center from 1958 to 1961 but spearheaded a major expansion of the Center’s collection until 1971. In 1972, the Center moved to the current building.

After Ransom’s departure as director, F. Warren Robberts became the official director and served until 1976. He is credited for having acquired notable collections like; Helmut Gernsheim photographs, as well as several archives like John Steinbeck, Everlyn Waugh, and D. H. Lawrence.

Robberts is also responsible for acquiring Carlton Lake Collection in 1968. After Robbers, John Payne, Carlton Lake, Decherd Turner, Thomas, F. Staley, and Stephen Enniss have served as directors acquiring notable collections in the process. Stephen Ennis, who was appointed in 2013, is responsible for collecting notable archives like Ian McEwan, Arthur Miller, and Kazuo Ishiguro.

Top Collections

Harry Ransom Center is home to two notable collections, namely a Gutenberg Bible (one of the twenty-one copies in existence) and Nicephore Niepce’s 1826 1st successful permanent nature photography. Both collections are displayed at Harry Ransom’s main lobby. The Center also has culturally important artifacts and documents, with the other notable strengths of the Center being in photography, performing arts, and modern literature.

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