Machines once owned by Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, John Lennon, Jack Kevorkian and "Unabomber" Theodore Kaczynski are among those in the exhibit.
The collection is owned by Steve Soboroff, a California businessman whose daughter is a Northeastern undergraduate.
It includes writings that former owners typed on the machines, including an excerpt from Williams' play "The Glass Menagerie."
Also included is a letter in which Kevorkian lobbies for allowing death row inmates to donate their organs after their executions.
Campus curator Bruce Ployer says the exhibit provides a glimpse into the lives of the typewriters' former owners.
"I think of the work they scripted on these machines, and it's very exciting," he said.
The curator said a typewriter that belonged to Orson Welles, which he used in producing the film "Citizen Kane," also is among those on display.
Lennon, of Beatles' fame, wrote lyrics for his early band the Quarrymen on a typewriter that's in the collection, according to Northeastern officials, who said the machine was auctioned in London in 1999.
The gallery is hosting a reception Thursday that will include a performance by the Boston Typewriter Orchestra. The exhibit will be open until Sept. 25.