The Alcove of North American Languages was given in 1887 by Eben Norton Horsford, son of a missionary among the Senecas and friend of Henry Fowle Durant. The printed catalog of Professor Horsford's collection lists 280 volumes, including dictionaries, vocabularies, grammars, translations of the Bible in Indian languages, and works in or about early primitive languages from all parts of the world.

Professor Horsford's collection was gradually increased, most notably by the John Wesley Powell Collection of North American Languages of more than 1,000 items, received in 1891, and by the literary remains of the Reverend Silas Rand, a missionary among the Micmacs of Nova Scotia.

Sadly, the entire collection was decimated in the fire of 1914 which consumed College Hall. Only a few items from the Powell Collection remain, five of the Micmac manuscripts of the Reverend Silas Rand, and 231 printed books from the original collection.

The following publications provide more information on the collection:

  • "Alcove of North American Languages, Wellesley College," a paper read by Professor Horsford at the annual meeting of the Library Council of Wellesley College, June 13, 1887.
  • Ivy G. Campbell, Catalogue of Works in the Alcove of North American Languages and Bibliography of Works in the Alcove of North American Languages, 1916. Typescript, in Special Collections.
  • Card file of books destroyed in the fire of 1914, in Special Collections.

Shown: a few titles from The Alcove of North American Languages