Statement on Harmful Language in Collections

The manuscript and photograph collections of Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site contain the personal papers and collected material of generations of an elite, white, New England family. The content expands beyond New England’s geographic borders and includes images of and writing about historically marginalized people, including Black Americans and Indigenous people of North America, New Zealand, and Japan.

Some original sources contain content that may be harmful or difficult to view. The full-text transcriptions of manuscript material in the site’s Digital Archive Portal contain historical terminology which is offensive today, as well as language that reflects the biased views and perspective of its creators.

Some of our records contain language created decades ago. It is common practice within the field to re-use descriptions from the creator of the materials; unexamined use of this practice may mean that racist or other offensive terminologies appear in our descriptions. We also use standardized vocabulary lists in our work, such as Library of Congress Subject Headings, that can include outdated and harmful terms.

Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site is committed to preventing future use of harmful language in staff-generated descriptions and to assessing and updating existing descriptions that are harmful. If you encounter harmful language in our finding aids or item descriptions, please email the archivist (

Last updated: March 24, 2023

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