Harry Ransom Center

If you want to explore centuries of history and uncover fascinating stories, the Harry Ransom Center in Austin is the perfect place for you. This one-of-a-kind museum houses numerous artifacts ranging from ancient manuscripts, rare books, and photographs to film and artworks. The Harry Ransom Center offers an array of exhibitions and activities.

The Harry Ransom Center is a one-of-a-kind facility at the University of Texas at Austin. It is dedicated to preserving and providing access to materials related to the creative process of writers, artists, and thinkers from different fields. 

Rich History

Harry Ransom Center is originally known as the Humanities Research Center when it first opened in 1957. It was then renamed in honor of its founder Harry Ransom after his passing in 1976. Significant collections like the Edward Hanley, Norman Bel Geddes, and Edward Alexander Parsons collections were obtained by Harry Ransom. 

Ransom was the Center’s director from 1958 to 1961, but he was instrumental in expanding the Center’s collection until 1971. The Center moved to its current location in 1972.

F. Warren Roberts Collection

After Ransom’s resignation, F. Warren Roberts succeeded him as the official director and held the position until 1976. He is credited with acquiring essential collections such as the Helmut Gernsheim photograph collection and several archives, including those for John Steinbeck, Everly Waugh, and DH Lawrence.

Succeeding Directors

In 1968, Roberts was also in charge of purchasing the Carlton Lake Collection. Following Roberts, the director positions were held by John Payne, Carlton Lake, Decherd Turner, Thomas F. Staley, and Stephen Enniss, who all amassed significant collections in the process. Stephen Ennis, hired in 2013, gathered illustrious archives for authors like Kazuo Ishiguro, Arthur Miller, and Ian McEwan.

Learning At Harry Ransom Center

Today, the Harry Ransom Center offers unique educational programs that allow students to delve deeper into the world of humanities. 

Through their Classroom Experiences program, teachers can plan special tours and workshops tailored to their curriculum. Whether exploring a specific author’s archives or learning about different artistic movements through hands-on activities, the Classroom Experiences at Harry Ransom Center offers endless opportunities for students to engage with history and culture.

The Harry Ransom Center also offers internships to individuals interested in gaining practical experience in a great environment. They get hands-on experience working with rare materials that are not available elsewhere such as cuneiform tablets, ancient papyri, and glossed manuscripts of Dante’s Divine Comedy that can’t be found elsewhere. 

Interns can also attend lectures given by visiting scholars or participate in workshops held by experts from different fields. This provides them with additional learning opportunities beyond their daily tasks.

Group Tours

For those interested in exploring this vast collection with friends or colleagues, the Harry Ransom Center offers group tours led by knowledgeable guides who can help you navigate its current displays. Whether you’re looking to learn about iconic literary figures like Edgar Allan Poe or modern-day filmmakers like Wes Anderson, these tours offer something for everyone.


The Center relies heavily on volunteers to help preserve and make these collections available. They seek volunteers passionate about the arts who want to spend more time at this special place. Volunteering at the Harry Ransom Center is an excellent opportunity for those who wish to give back to their community while expanding their knowledge of literature, art, and history.

Being a volunteer at the Harry Ransom Center is a chance for those with a deep interest in history, a friendly personality, and a desire to share their expertise with others. Volunteers play an integral role in making this experience possible for visitors from all around the world. Volunteering at the Harry Ransom Center can be an enriching experience that allows you to learn more about history while connecting with people who share your passion. 


Harry Ransom Center has grown into one of the most significant cultural repositories in the United States, with over 42 million manuscripts, books, photographs, artworks, and other items available to researchers and the general public alike. The Center today serves as a world-renowned resource for scholars and researchers seeking access to some of the fascinating cultural artifacts in existence.

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