Archives

Robert M. Pirsig Archives.

In addition to published resources, several institutions curate physical archive collections of Pirsig-related materials. These include:

Harvard University

Harvard holds Robert Pirsig’s own archive donated by his widow Wendy and curated by the Houghton Library alongside their William James collection.

[The most comprehensive archive of Pirsig documentation.
Indexed here in their “Hollis” online archive system.
]

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History

The Smithsonian holds Robert Pirsig’s original Honda CB77 305cc Superhawk motorcycle as Bob had restored, as well as associated artefacts, tools and related archive materials, all donated by his widow Wendy.

[The collection is described here in the Smithsonian Magazine and there will be a public exhibition from April 2024. Paul F. Johnson, Curator of Maritime History and Transportation History at the Smithsonian, has also published “Chrome and Black and Dusty – Robert Pirsig’s Motorcycle Heritage” in the International Journal of Motorcycle Studies, and “If Boat is Going Down – Bikes, Boats and Robert Pirsig” in the Smithsonian Magazine and, with additional photographs, at the National Maritime Historical Society.]

Montana State University

The Archives and Special Collections of the MSU Library at Bozeman has a guide to “All Things Pirsig” which they hold and includes the Dr Anthony McWatt PhD archive of correspondence with Robert Pirsig.

[The McWatt collection is described here and Pirsig’s copies of the same correspondence are held in the Harvard collection also described on this page. MSU Archives also has Pirsig’s spring 1960 student grading book while an English instructor, a 1961 letter in which he first detailed his classroom work using the concept of quality, a Montana map carried on the 1968 motorcycle journey, artworks by Robert and Gennie DeWeese that Pirsig owned, Pirsig’s leather briefcase with a 1960 photo, his slide rule and mechanical calculator, and books from his personal library. An extensive DeWeese collection is also in the MSU library archives. Other MSU grade books and letters related to Pirsig teaching there are in the Harvard collection. MSU also holds records of Pirsig’s time teaching at that institution, previously researched and written about by Swedish journalist Sven Lindqvist and some examples are documented by Prof Henry Gurr on his “VetureArete” web pages.]

The Museum of the Rockies

The Museum of the Rockies, a division of Montana State University, also holds an 18-inch metal-working lathe mentioned in ZMM, mounted on a table built by Pirsig. The museum also has a set of Pirsig’s taps and dies and other tools associated either with the book or his life in Montana.

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