SophoclesStudents and researchers at the Program of Modern Greek Studies at Harvard have access to exceptional facilities. In addition to Harvard’s broad and vibrant academic community, students can benefit from the university’s Modern Greek Collection of Books and Manuscripts as well as a wide range of rare Collections in Oral Literature and Folklore Studies, which were created and organized by distinguished Harvard scholars such as F.J. Child, G.L. Kittredge, James Notopoulos, Cedric Whitman, Milman Parry, and Albert B. Lord. The Modern Greek Collection of the Harvard College Library, which dates back to the early 19th century, is the largest and richest collection of its kind outside Greece, comprising more than 200,000 items on Modern Greek history and culture. In addition to a large number of current Greek and Cypriot journals, the Collection includes rare books and manuscripts, first editions of early modern and modern authors, including poets, travelers and American missionaries to Greece, folklore recordings, as well as an unusually complete set of nineteenth-century periodicals.

Housed in Houghton Library are many rare first editions and manuscripts, including some of Cavafy’s privately printed broadsheets. Also worth mention are the historical documents concerning the Greek War of Independence, Philhellenism, and (Greek) constitutional history; a complete set of minutes of meetings of European Philhellenes held in Paris between 1815 and 1833, as well as a collection (acquired by Harvard in 1966) of 160 items related to the Greek Revolution, are of special historical value. Additional research resources include the Notopoulos Collection, the Greek Shadow Theater or Karaghiozes Collection (the first systematic collection of its kind), the Collection on Modern Greek Theater, the Woodberry Poetry Room recordings of original poetry readings at Harvard, and the Harvard i-poetry electronic site, which includes a site for Modern Greek poetry.

The Modern Greek Collection at Harvard has been cultivated and fostered by scholars, librarians, curators, and Philhellenes from the nineteenth century to the present day. Among the many indefatigable librarians, curators, scholars, and admirers of modern Greek culture who systematically expanded and supported the Modern Greek Collection at Harvard the following merit special mention: Roger Stoddard, Paul H. Buck, Harry K. Messenger, and Evangelie Flessas. Of unique importance was the contribution of the librarian Evro Layton, an internationally renowned scholar, who single-handedly founded the field of the history of the Greek book and typography in the sixteenth century. Inquiries about the collection may be addressed to Rhea Karabelas-Lesage(needs link), Head and Bibliographer for the Modern Greek Division of Widener Library.

EVRO LAYTON (1924-2005)

Evro LaytonEvro Layton, an internationally renowned scholar, was the former Collection Development Librarian of the Harvard College Library and the Head of the Modern Greek Division at Widener Library in the 1960s. She almost single-handedly founded the field of the history of the Greek book and typography in the sixteenth century. Monumental is her work The Sixteenth Century Greek Book in Italy: Printers and Publishers for the Greek World(needs link), published in the series of the Library of the Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies, no 16 (Venice: Istituto ellenico di studi bizantini e postbizantini di Venezia, 1994). Exemplary is also her work, Five Centuries of Books and Manuscripts in Modern Greek: A Catalogue of an Exhibition at the Houghton Library, December 4, 1987, through February 17, 1988. This work explores the emergence of modern Greek language, thought, and sensibility reflected in Harvard's strong collection of Greek books and manuscripts, ranging from fifteenth century liturgical manuals to Renaissance translations into modern Greek of Homer and other classical authors to the works and papers of such twentieth-century Greek literary figures as Nikos Kazantzakis, George Seferis, and C. P. Cavafy. With copious illustrations of Greek writing, design, and typography, Evro Layton's catalogue is a visual and intellectual treat for philhellenes.