From the Chair: Archivists as Leaders in a Web 2.0 Future Karen Spicher
In exploring the many aspects of evolution and revolution in archives, SAA’s 2008 conference emphasized two themes of particular significance for our section: the continued evolution of processing standards and a new revolution of web 2.0 tools. While both issues have been addressed at recent past SAA conferences, this year moved well beyond theory and experimentation, including reports on MPLP implementation, use of new technology in delivering finding aids, and results of these efforts on reader access.
Recent programming by our section has addressed several aspects of technology, including born digital literary archives, describing digitized collections, and the relationship between digitization and deaccessioning. At this year’s section meeting, we presented a panel of three archivists who are engaged in innovative implementation of web 2.0 tools. The panelists’ presentations demonstrated how web 2.0 leadership involves all three of SAA’s strategic priorities of technology, diversity, and advocacy. While the technology aspect is obvious, new uses of this technology can advance access to otherwise hidden collections, and advocate engagement with archives by a diverse audience. See the annual meeting web page for a summary of presentations by Stephen Fletcher, Photographic Archivist, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Paul Hedges, Information Technology Director, Wisconsin Historical Society; and Kate Theimer, creator of the ArchivesNext blog.
Each year our meeting marks a transition in section leadership. First, after completing a year as vice chair, Mat Darby has moved into the position of chair for 2008/2009. We have welcomed a new vice chair, Sammie Morris, and new steering committee members Barbara De Wolfe, Rebecca Johnson Melvin, and Elizabeth Russey, who join continuing members Rebecca Bizonet, Helice Koffler, and Katie Salzmann. Thanks are due to outgoing steering committee members Kate Colligan, Steve Mielke, and Tara Laver, and to Paul Atwood, for three years of managing our web site as co-web liaison. Catherine Stollar Peters will be continuing as web liaison. And a special thank you to outgoing past chair Beth Bensman, as she completes three years of service to our section.
As chair of nominations for next year, I’ll be looking for volunteers to run for steering committee and vice chair. Please contact me if you are interested in running or would like more information.
Minutes and other documents from our 2008 annual meeting in San Francisco are available through the Section website. Please see the Annual Meetings page for links to agendas, minutes, and speaker presentations.
Dodd Research Center Unveils Digital Collection of Railroad Maps
Laura Smith, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, The University of Connecticut
Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center of the University of Connecticut has made available almost 1000 digital images of track maps of the New Haven Railroad, the predominant railroad line in southern New England from 1872 to 1969. Since summer 2007, Dodd Research Center staff have been working with UConn Libraries staff in Collection Services, Information Technology and the Map Library to make a set of 1915 railroad maps available online using CONTENTdm technology. The maps are from a frequently used collection in the Railroad History Archive of detailed track maps of the New Haven Railroad, which at its peak had over 2100 miles of track in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and eastern New York and into New York City. The Interstate Commerce Commission created the track maps to account for the value of the property owned by the railroad but the company used the maps to record changes and additions in the line, which provided a continuous railroad link from New York City to Boston.
The original collection includes over 2500 maps and is frequently used by land surveyors, preservationists, genealogists, railroad fans and modelers. The project is currently in progress but you can now find all the maps from Connecticut and many from Rhode Island, particularly the Providence area, at the UConn Libraries' Digital Mosaic site, http://images.lib.uconn.edu/. Work is underway to continue digitizing and describing the collection for CONTENTdm and will soon include maps for New York and Massachusetts.
Fairfield Museum and History Center Awarded Prestigious IMLS Grant
Regine Heberlein, Fairfield Museum and History Center
Fairfield Museum and History Center has received a prestigious 2008 Museums For America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). More than 370 museums and libraries submitted applications to this federal granting agency and the Fairfield Museum’s grant received a high score.
Through this grant, the Fairfield Museum and History Center will digitize its library card catalog and make it available through the Fairfield Public Library's online catalog. When completed, the project will provide researchers with online access to the Museum's 12,000 books. The Fairfield Museum's library holds rare and important works on the region's history, decorative arts, manufacturing and trade, maritime studies, and Fairfield genealogies, which will soon be more widely available to the community.
"The Fairfield Museum and History Center is honored to receive this important grant from IMLS," said the museum's executive director Michael Jehle. "It is a strong endorsement of the museum's efforts to make its collections and resources more freely available so that Fairfield and surrounding communities can learn more about their fascinating history."
"This project is a model for community collaboration," said Regine Heberlein, the museum’s Librarian. "The museum’s holdings complement the Public Library’s in wonderful ways, and the Public Library has given the project its wholehearted support. As a result, we’re effectively creating a union catalog for the community, where the holdings of the Public Library, the Pequot Library Association, and the Fairfield Museum are all searchable through one easy portal."
"As repositories of our nation's treasures and our nation's history, museums are positioned to play an integral role in the education of their communities. Museums for America grants support projects and ongoing activities that build museums' capacities and help these institutions serve their diverse constituencies to the best of their abilities," said Dr. Anne-Imelda M. Radice, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
"I am grateful the Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded this funding to the Fairfield Museum and History Center. This project will enable the entire community, including families, students, and teachers, to access the region's rich history through a diverse collection of digitally archived materials," said Congressman Christopher Shays. "I am supportive of increased investment in our communities' libraries, which provide access to technology, promote literacy and serve as a center for community learning."
The Billups-Garth Archives Receives Work of Mississippi photographer Marion Stark Gaines
Mona Vance, The Billups-Garth Archives, Columbus-Lowndes Public Library
The Columbus-Lowndes Public Library is pleased to announce the recent addition of approximately 110 negatives, over ninety of which are glass plate negatives, by Marion Stark Gaines (1850-1942) to the Billups-Garth Archives. This addition greatly increases the historical value of Gaines’ work as one of the earliest known published woman photographers of Mississippi. The negatives were acquired from the Historic Mobile Preservation Society in Alabama.
Marion Stark Gaines was born in Columbus in 1850 to Peter and Sarah Stark and grew up in Mobile, Alabama. After marrying Captain Abner Strother Gaines in 1879, she moved to his family plantation and nursery, Peachwood, in State Line, Mississippi. Eventually, she had three children: George, Marion Viola, and Edmund.
It was while at Peachwood in the 1890s and early 1900s that Marion experimented with photography. Her work captured not only family life, but also social customs and race relations in the rural South.
Gaines published her photographs and wrote in popular contemporary magazines. In June of 1901, Photo-Era printed an article by Gaines titled "By the West Window" in which she explored the difficulties and challenges of photographing flowers. Also, magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal and Photo-Era included images taken by Gaines.
Archivist Mona Vance said, "This is a significant addition to our collection on Marion Stark Gaines. Her work is invaluable and adds dialogue to the field of both photography and women’s history."
A collection of over 200 Gaines prints were previously donated to the Billups-Garth Archives by Marion’s granddaughter, Mrs. Chebie Bateman, former director of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library. The donation was made in memory of Mrs. Bateman’s late husband Thomas Douglas Bateman, Jr.
Mrs. Bateman and her daughter, Gaines Gaskin, viewed the collection for the first time several weeks ago and were amazed at their relative’s skill. Bateman said, "I am so impressed and proud of my grandmother’s work. I hope to see her photographs utilized by both scholars and enthusiasts alike."
Glass plate negative of an unknown woman sitting by a table with flowers, circa 1900
Print from a glass plate negative of an unknown African-American woman shelling peas, circa 1900
Print from a glass plate negative of Viola Gaines (Marion's daughter) in a pile of hay, circa 1900
Milton N. Nathanson Papers Processed; NEH Grant in Progress
Paul Atwood, Water Resources Center Archives, University of California, Berkeley
The Milton N. Nathanson papers (1855-1995) were recently processed as one piece of the collaborative "Origins of Western Water Policy" NEH grant. The collection consists of files Nathanson compiled during his work as an attorney specializing in Colorado River water issues, including his employment at the Department of Interior as Assistant Regional Solicitor and Field Solicitor and as special consultant to the Department of Interior and the Coachella Valley Water District, as well as notes and drafts written by Nathanson while he was authoring the book, Updating the Hoover Dam Documents, and materials related to his involvement in the Colorado River Board of California. The Nathanson Papers were processed by consulting archivist David Uhlich, who also created the finding aid.
WRCA is in the process of scanning hundreds of photographs, maps, and text to complete the grant. These materials will be accessible from existing WRCA finding aids via the Online Archive of California and harvested for inclusion in the Waters Digital Library. Other academic institutions involved in this phase of the NEH grant include University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Colorado State University, and Washington State University.
IUP Receives Sylvester Garrett Collection Harrison Wick, Special Collections and University Archives, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
The family of Sylvester Garrett donated the remainder of his labor arbitration papers to the Special Collections and University Archives at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. A native of Pittsburgh, Garrett (1911-1996) married Molly Yard, the former president of the National Organization of Women. A graduate of Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania law school, Garrett taught labor law through most of his career at Stanford University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Garrett worked for over fifty years as a labor lawyer and government official, and was a U.S. Steel arbitrator from 1951 to 1979. During World War II, when labor strife had a dramatic impact on national security, President Roosevelt named him to chair the Regional War Labor Board, which was charged with keeping labor peace in the eastern United States. Garrett played a leading role in the development of arbitration procedures in both the steel industry and postal service. He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Arbitrators in 1951, and served as president of the academy in 1963. In 1966, he helped mediate the twelve-day strike by the Transport Workers Union that brought the city to a halt. Garrett held numerous positions throughout his career, including the attorney for the National Labor Relations Board from 1938 to 1941, and as chairman of U.S. Steel – United Steel Workers of America Board of Arbitrators from 1979 to 1989. Garrett's career touched on many events in modern labor history, from the New Deal labor policies of the Great Depression to the strike between USX Corporation and the United Steel Workers of America Union in the 1980’s.
The Sylvester Garrett Manuscript Collection at IUP contains more than 8,000 arbitration case files as well as books, indexes, speeches, memorabilia, correspondence, lecture notes, and scrapbooks dating from the 1930s to 1989. This is a significant addition to the labor and industrial relations collections housed in the IUP Special Collections and University Archives, which also contain the Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Company Records and papers from the United Mine Workers of America. For further information, contact Harrison Wick at
The Wittliff Collections Awarded $20,000 to Create Online Exhibit about Branch Davidian Siege near Waco
Submitted by Joel Minor, Southwestern Writers Collection, Texas State University-San Marcos
The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University-San Marcos has been awarded $20,000 to create an online exhibit about the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidians at Mount Carmel outside Waco, Texas.
The funds originate from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s TexTreasures grant program, which supports the digitization of special and unique collections of photographs, newspapers, interviews, and other historical documents that were previously available onsite only.
The Wittliff Collections will create the online exhibit using the primary source materials journalist Dick J. Reavis collected while writing The Ashes of Waco, published by Simon & Schuster in 1995. Reavis donated his papers to the Wittliff’s Southwestern Writers Collection, located at Texas State’s Alkek Library; his archive opened for research in 2006. The exhibit web site is scheduled to be completed within the next twelve months.
Reavis’s book remains one of the most comprehensive and balanced accounts of this highly controversial incident. Recognizing that the raid, siege, and burning of the Branch Davidian center was a major story being covered by the press primarily from the government’s perspective, Reavis spent two years reporting and investigating the incident, its players, and causes.
Reavis’s research went beyond the book’s publication. His role as an investigator expanded, and he became one of the few impartial experts on the subject. Reavis eventually testified in Congressional hearings as an expert witness, based on his investigation of the topic.
The bulk of the digitized objects to be made available are recordings of negotiations between the Branch Davidians and the FBI, along with the transcripts. Other materials planned for the online exhibit are videos created by the federal government during the siege, Branch Davidian Bible studies going back to the 1970s, and correspondence between Mr. Reavis and surviving Branch Davidians.
Additionally, an online forum will be established for academic and cultural discourse. The web site will also provide an unbiased overview of the incident and a brief history of the groups involved, as well as links to other sources for further information.
This past April marked the 15th anniversary of the tragic incident near Waco, and interest in the subject shows no signs of abating. In the past two years alone, documentary production companies working for major media channels like ABC, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and MSNBC have accessed the Dick J. Reavis Papers at the Wittliff Collections for copies of source materials. The new online exhibit will provide more efficient, expedient, and complete access for future researchers of all types.
More about the Dick J. Reavis Papers at the Wittliff Collections can be found here. For more about the on-line exhibit, contact Joel Minor:
Dick Reavis’s book on the siege at the Brand Davidian center
James Rolph, Jr. Papers Open for Research
Mary Morganti, California Historical Society
The papers of San Francisco Mayor, James "Sunny Jim" Rolph, Jr., have been reprocessed recently to improve accessibility, with funding from the California Historic Records Advisory Board and the Moore Dry Dock Foundation. They are now open for research at the California Historical Society, and the finding aid is available through the Online Archive of California, along with descriptions of many of the California Historical Society's other manuscript collections
The James Rolph, Jr. Papers, MS 1818, are the product of his unprecedented 22-year term as Mayor of San Francisco, 1911-1931. Their contents reveal the process of growth and change in the city of San Francisco during two extremely eventful decades, during which Rolph oversaw an ambitious program of civic reconstruction following the devastation of the 1906 earthquake and fire. They offer an enticing glimpse into all aspects of Rolph's administration, including correspondence with Department heads such as M. M. O'Shaughnessy about the Hetch Hetchy Dam, records from the construction of Civic Center and the Panama Pacific International Exposition (P.P.I.E.), and memos and publications from the daily workings of an administration struggling to rebuild the city's infrastructure, eliminate corruption, and handle and recover from the devastation of World War I and the influenza epidemic of 1918.
The postcard pictured here may be campaign ephemera from Rolph's first election in 1911, or a mail piece celebrating his landslide victory against what was seen as an entrenched and corrupt city government. His campaign offered the promise of a new city, free of corruption, symbolized by the opening of the P.P.I.E., which served as the final proof of the city's reconstruction to the world. Its success was one of Rolph's greatest achievements, comparable only to the construction of Hetch Hetchy, municipal railway and water systems, and a new Civic Center, crowned by a new City Hall.
"James Rolph, Jr., World's Fair Mayor of San Francisco. . . ," postcard, 1911. James Rolph, Jr. Papers, MS 1818. California Historical Society, Manuscript Collection.
"By Their Works Ye Shall Know Them: The Record of James Rolph, Jr." broadside, undated. James Rolph, Jr. Papers, MS 1818. California Historical Society, Manuscript Collection.
Lenox, Incorporated, Records Open for Research at Rutgers
Albert C. King, Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University
Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries, is pleased to announce that the historical records, 1889-2005, of Lenox, Incorporated, are now open for research. The records, which emphasize the firm's production of fine china and which vary in completeness, document product design and creation, advertising and promotional efforts, sales practices, financial history, and changes in corporate structure and ownership. About 248 cubic feet in size, the collection requires advanced notice to consult, as it is stored offsite. An EAD finding aid for the records, in four sections, is available beginning at:
The Lenox records were donated to the Rutgers University Libraries in 2005 when the (then) New Jersey-based Lenox, Incorporated, was sold by its parent company of over two decades, Brown-Forman Corporation, a distiller and marketer of a diversified line of spirits.
The arrangement and description of the Lenox, Incorporated, records were completed by Project Archivist David A. D'Onofrio and a part-time assistant. This project was supported by grants-in-aid received from the Brown-Forman Foundation and from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. The resulting finding aid was encoded in EAD Version 2002 by Processing Archivist Caryn Radick.
Hagley Receives Important Rapid Transit Records
Lynn Catanese, Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library
The Hagley Library recently received a large gift of books, records, and ephemera from the estate of John F. Tucker III of Philadelphia, a former vice president of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and an expert on rail transit operations. Mr. Tucker had made a previous gift to Hagley in 1992 when he moved temporarily to Dayton to head that city’s transit authority. The materials collected and preserved by Mr. Tucker, when combined with a similar gift from the estate of former SEPTA executive Ronald DeGraw and a donation of official records from SEPTA itself, give Hagley reasonably good historical coverage of the growth and development of rapid transit in the Greater Philadelphia area. Also, the collection offers comparative data on subway and streetcar systems in other North American cities, including Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Toronto.
John F. Tucker was born in Philadelphia in 1950 and joined SEPTA in 1972 after graduating from Drexel University. He left SEPTA as head of the Regional Rail Division in 1988 and worked as a consultant for four years before moving to Dayton. In 1997, he became vice president of operations planning at the New York Transit Authority and later joined his former SEPTA supervisor, David L. Gunn, at Amtrak.
Among the important components of the Tucker Collection are reports and publications of SEPTA’s predecessors, the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company and the Philadelphia Transportation Company, especially those from the administration of Thomas E. Mitten (1912-1929). Mitten began his career as a Progressive reformer, but falling ridership starting in the mid-1920s rendered it impossible for him to support his cooperative employee welfare system and retain public trust, leading to a bitter decade-long reorganization of the property. Mitten’s publications remain as evidence of his public relations campaigns and his ability to "spin" the news.
In addition, the Tucker Collection contains a large selection of timetables, transit maps, travel guides, and other advertising ephemera produced by a number of companies and agencies. They show the final replacement of streetcar systems by buses (including the famous Pacific Electric “Red Cars” in Los Angeles) and of private companies by public agencies, as well as the recent revival of light-rail transit. Many of these advertisements feature striking Art Deco graphics. Mr. Tucker’s gift makes important additions to Hagley’s collection of books on transportation history, streamlined design, Philadelphia local history, posters, and advertising art.
For more information about this collection, please contact the Hagley Library Manuscripts and Archives Department at 302-658-2400 ext. 330 or email
The Twin Electroliners were deluxe streamlined electric trains that operated between Chicago and Milwaukee between 1941 and 1963.
Visitors' guide published by the Toronto Transit Commission in 1946.
Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway travel guide from the mid-1920s featured a $1 "ride-all-day" ticket.
Kent State University Acquires Jonathan Goodman Archive
Cara Gilgenbach, Special Collections and Archives, Kent State University
The Kent State University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and Archives (Kent, Ohio) has recently acquired the personal archive of noted British crime historian Jonathan Goodman. The collection includes Goodman’s research files and manuscripts along with primary source material, such as crime-related newspapers, ephemera, correspondence, and photographs. Goodman, who died in January 2008, was best known for his well-researched and pivotal works in true crime literature. In particular he was lauded for his 1969 work The Killing of Julia Wallace, which is striking for the way in which it lays out, in a careful and balanced way, the extremely complex facts and complications of a 1931 murder case in Liverpool, England. Goodman also wrote poetry, short fiction, journal articles, and novels.
The Goodman archive complements the Department’s existing strengths in true crime literature and the history of crime, notably the vast Borowitz Crime Collection, one of the most significant sources of books, ephemera, and archival materials on crime and its influences on literature, the arts, and popular culture.
Scrapbook: "The Stabbing of George Harry Storrs" about the Gorse Hall murders trials (1909-1910), filled with newspaper clippings from the time of the murder and the trials.
YWCA Records Finding Aid Now Online, Attracts More Material to Smith College
Sherrill Redmon, the Sophia Smith Collection and Special Collections, Neilson Library, Smith College
The Sophia Smith Collection is celebrating the final step in processing the massive YWCA of the U.S.A. Records. The finding aid became available online this fall. One of the unexpected benefits of this milestone has been that a variety of people with YWCA-related materials have found the collection via Google and have sent us some choice small gifts. The photograph below came in an album of images from the YWCA Estes Park Girl Reserve Conference of 1924. The caption reads: "The ‘Top of the World’ Milliner [Milner] Pass--11,270 ft. We passed thru snow for 1/4 of a mile which was 15 ft. deep." Note that the photo was taken in June.
"The ‘Top of the World’ Milliner [Milner] Pass--11,270 ft. We passed thru snow for 1/4 of a mile which was 15 ft. deep."
News from the Schlesinger Library Katherine Kraft, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University
Four manuscript processors were recently hired for the backlog-processing project
Emilyn L. Brown has just finished her year as a Harvard Administrative Fellow, sponsored by the Eda K. Loeb Music Library (where she processed archival music scores and manuscripts, including the Nadia Boulanger Collection, and coordinated the selection of items for digitization from the African American Historic Sound Recordings Collection), and the Harvard University Archives, where her work centered on collection development in Latin American Studies. Previously, she was the archivist/acting librarian for the Library of Caribbean Research, Research Institute for the Study of Man in New York City (2003-2007), and historical researcher for the Office of Public Education Interpretation of the New York African Burial Ground Project (1992-1999). She continues to serve as the archival consultant to the Abyssinian Baptist Church in NYC. Emilyn has her BA from CUNY (dual major in Anthropology and African American Studies, 1998), MA in History from Columbia University (2002), Advanced Certificate in Archival Management and Historical Editing from NYU (2003), and MLIS with distinction from the Pratt Institute (2007).
Mary O'Connell Murphy joins us from the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), where she formally established their archive after serving an internship there. A 2001 graduate of Beloit College, majoring in history with specialization in U.S. women's history, Mary also has an MFA in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art & Design (2003). Her work as a reference library and archives assistant in the Georgia Historical Society (2003-2005) led her to Simmons, where she obtained her MLIS in archival management in 2006. In addition to her BRA internship, she worked on a series of the Gloria Emerson Collection at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center (BU).
Laura Peimer managed the archives at Harvard Business School's Baker Library since 2006. Previously she was archivist and manager of the Special Library Collections in the Brooklyn Museum (2005-2006); Mellon Project archivist at the Brooklyn Museum (2000-2005); photo archivist at the American Jewish Historical Society (1998-2000, in Waltham and NYC); and archivist with the Winthrop Group (1996-1998), with numerous clients, including the Paul Taylor Dance Company, United Nations, and Hadassah. Laura graduated from Brandeis University with a BA in History (1991), and has her MA in History and Certificate in Archival Management and Historical Editing from NYU (1996).
Bridgette Woodall comes to the library from the Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, where she began in 2004 with a Simmons internship. She then served as Project Archivist for Reconfiguration (2005-2006), working with the more than 80 parishes that were being closed, and since 2006 has been Associate Archivist. Bridgette has also worked in Emory University's Woodruff Library (Special Collections) and the college archives of her alma mater, Adrian College (BA 1993, International Studies & German). She has a Master of Divinity degree from the Candler School of Theology (Emory University, 1997), and her MLIS with a specialization in archives administration/management from Simmons (2005).
Newly processed collections available for research:
The papers of Mary Stone Rousmaniere (1880-1952), Roxbury, Massachusetts native and Froebelian-trained kindergarten teacher, are now open for research at the Schlesinger Library. Consisting of 1.5 linear feet of material, the collection includes biographical and personal material; family letters; photographs; travel journal of a European trip (1896); memorabilia and documents related to her training as a Froebelian kindergarten teacher (most ca.1904); and a scrapbook compiled by her sister Frances Rousmaniere during her time at Wellesley College (1894-1899). The collection was processed by Mark Vassar. The finding aid is available online at Harvard University's OASIS web site.
The papers of Sylvia Wright Mitarachi (1917-1981), former editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Bunting Institute fellow (Radcliffe College, 1977-1978), are now open for research at the Schlesinger Library. The nearly six linear feet of papers (1834-1990) relate to her research for her unpublished biography of her great aunt, The Life of Melusina Fay Peirce, and consist of correspondence; poetry; prose; published articles; research notes; conference material; photographs; etc., including original records of the Cambridge Co-operative Housekeeping Association (1869-1876) and the Poe Cottage Preservation Association (1895-1896), and original material related to the Fay Family Papers at the Schlesinger Library. The collection was processed by Mark Vassar. The finding aid is available online at Harvard University's OASIS web site.
The papers of Sattareh Farman-Farmaian, retired Los Angeles social worker, and founder and director of the first school of social work in Iran, the Tehran School of Social Work (1958-1979), are now open to research at the Schlesinger Library. Consisting of nearly two linear feet of material related to the promotion of her autobiography, Daughter of Persia: A Woman's Journey from Her Father's Harem through the Islamic Revolution, the papers include family and biographical information; letters from fans; speeches and interviews (many on audiotape); publicity materials; conference material; articles and clippings; and photographs. The collection was processed by Mark Vassar. The finding aid is available online at Harvard University's OASIS web site.
James B. Duke Memorial Library Awarded Federal Grant
Monika Rhue, James B. Duke Memorial Library, Johnson C. Smith University
The James B. Duke Memorial Library at Johnson C. Smith University has been awarded a $44,813.00 grant to be used for Saving the Music: Biddle University Quintet Project. The project will allow the library to create a web site with photographs, memorabilia and digital audio excerpts of the famous Biddle University Quintet and the University Glee Club. The Biddle University Quintet was JCSU’s first a cappella choir. The library plans to digitize 800 fragile instantaneous discs (record albums) of the University Glee Club from the 1940s-1950s. These discs are the only surviving recordings of the University Glee Club. The rare and unique materials selected for this project will be available to teachers in a digital format.
The federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) were awarded by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources. These federal funds are investments of dollars to help libraries deliver relevant and up-to-date services for their communities. At the Library the LSTA grant will be used to hire a digital audio engineer for transferring the fragile record collection, to hire two JCSU students to help with the project, and the purchase of two computer workstations.
Upon learning that the Library received the federal grant, Library Director Monika Rhue said "This would be a great opportunity to share the rich heritage of the Biddle University Quintets, and the impact students had in raising money for their University. More importantly, this untold story will have a curriculum that can be used by teachers, contributing to American history."
The Library received one of the 160 grants awarded to North Carolina libraries; funding for all projects totaled $4,243,389. The LSTA grant program administered by the State Library of North Carolina funds projects across the state that help libraries deliver learning opportunities for a lifetime, support libraries in their mission to provide cost-effective access to the Internet and to information expertise, and make library resources more accessible to all users.
LSU-Alexandria Receives Papers of 19th Century Statesman Thomas Courtland Manning
Michelle Riggs, University Archives and Central Louisiana Collections, James C. Bolton Library, LSU at Alexandria
The Central Louisiana Collections, the manuscripts division of the University Archives of Louisiana State University at Alexandria, has recently received a donation of the papers of nineteenth-century jurist and statesman Thomas Courtland Manning. Born in Edenton, North Carolina where he studied law, Manning moved to Alexandria, Louisiana, in 1855 and became a prominent attorney. Within a few years, he was selected to serve on the Board of Supervisors for the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy--the forerunner of LSU. He served as an aide-de-camp to Governor Thomas O. Moore during the Civil War, bearing the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After the war, Manning went on to hold the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Louisiana,1877-1880, and later served as Minister to Mexico, a position he held at the time of his death.
Documents of interest from this collection include a series of promissory notes indicating amount borrowed by Manning and date the debt was paid; property deeds for land transactions in North Carolina, Texas, and Louisiana; family correspondence; the correspondence of Manning and prominent contemporaries; repatriation documents; and photographs and family artifacts, including Manning and Compton family bibles.
A selection of materials from this collection will be on exhibit at the James C. Bolton Library on the campus of LSUA from November 7, 2008-January 23, 2009.
Northwest Digital Archives Receives IMLS Collaborative Planning Grant
Jodi Allison-Bunnell, Northwest Digital Archives
The Northwest Digital Archives (NWDA), a program that provides enhanced access to archival collections and facilitates collaboration among archives, libraries, and museums in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska, has received a $38,844 Collaborative Planning grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
The grant, part of a long-range planning process for a digital services program, will support the second stage of planning, in which the group will determine solutions to specific problems that are currently impeding the development of sustainable digital programs. The project will be a collaborative effort of the Alliance, Washington State University, Lewis & Clark College, Whitman College, and Whitworth University.
The NWDA program currently offers a database of EAD-encoded finding aids, located at http://nwda.wsulibs.wsu.edu/. There, researchers can find information about archival collections through keyword, subject, repository, and genre searches. The database offers researchers the ability to find information about collections across institutions, at a greater level of detail than is available through any other tool. The collection information is also exposed to search engines
Founded with NEH and NHPRC funding in 2002, NWDA became part of the Orbis Cascade Alliance in 2007. Members pay annual fees based on institution type that cover the costs of technical, administrative, and fiscal support services.
Current NWDA member institutions are the Eastern Washington State Historical Society, Gonzaga University, Idaho State Historical Society, Seattle Museum of History & Industry, Whitman College, Montana Historical Society, University of Montana, Oregon Historical Society, Oregon State University, University of Oregon, Western Washington University, Pacific Lutheran University, University of Washington, Washington State University, Lane Community College, University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Alaska State Library’s Historical Collections, Whitworth University, Lewis & Clark College, the University of Idaho, Portland State University, the Seattle Municipal Archives, Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, Willamette University, Western Oregon University, Portland Community College, Oregon Health & Sciences University, Central Oregon Community College, and Oregon Institute of Technology.
Brandborg Papers Donation Documents the Environmental Movement
Amy Casamassa, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana
Archives and Special Collections at The University of Montana has recently been gifted the papers of Guy M. Brandborg and Stewart M. Brandborg, two major contributors to the development of the environmental movement in the 20th century. Guy M. "Brandy" Brandborg was formerly the Forest Supervisor for the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana. He helped organize the Montana Wilderness Association, which was instrumental in the 1964 passage of the Federal Wilderness Act. Although his papers reflect the variety of his activities and interests, many of the subject files document Brandborg’s work as Forest Supervisor on the Bitterroot National Forest and include internal newsletters and correspondence, information regarding fire policy, management plans, and financial data.
Guy M. Brandborg’s son, Stewart M. Brandborg, worked as the director of the Wilderness Society from 1964-1976. During this period, the organization was at the forefront of major wilderness and public land issues. After leaving the Wilderness Society, Brandborg went on to work for the government as special assistant to the director of the National Park Service, and helped organize leadership training for citizen activists. The Wilderness Society is the bulk of the focus of Brandborg’s papers, and this series includes correspondence, both internal and external, clippings, articles, citizen activist training materials, and notes.
For additional information please contact Archives & Special Collections at (406) 243-2053 or
Peter Palmquist Collection of Women in Photography Available for Research
Matthew D. Mason, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University
An unparalleled collection of research files about women involved in photography is open to researchers at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Compiled by a preeminent historian of photography, the Peter Palmquist Collection of Women in Photography provides excellent name-based access to information about more than thirty thousand women involved in photography, as well as to images created by more than two thousand women photographers.
Peter Palmquist (1936-2003) was a photographer, collector, and historian of photography. In 1971, he began a systematic study of women photographers in California. He later extended his study to include the photographic work of women worldwide. Palmquist had a broad scope for his collection, which included information on amateur and commercial photographers, studio assistants, retouchers, colorists, photojournalists, and filmmakers, as well as early critics of photography and characters in literary works.
The biographical files allow for broad and deep studies of women in photography. They mainly draw from secondary material collected by Palmquist, as well as biographical profiles, professional vitae, advertising items, exhibition announcements, and reviews provided by photographers and historians of photography.
The photographic materials in the collection include vintage photographs created by women studio and amateur photographers, with a majority created before 1910, as well as copy photographs created by Palmquist.
The collection includes research files compiled by Palmquist for his publication and exhibition projects on topics related to women photographers. It also contains the organizational records of Women in Photography International, a non-profit group founded in Los Angeles, California, in 1981 to promote women photographers and their work.
Portrait of Peter Palmquist with his collection, 1991 (Mary K. Brown)
On the Beach, Avalon Bay, Catalina Island, California, from a stereograph, circa 1903 (H. C. White Company)
New Jersey State Archives News
Joseph Klett, New Jersey State Archives
On October 6, 2008, the Division of Archives and Records Management and the County Archives and Records Management Association of New Jersey co-hosted an all-day conference entitled "Great Expectations: Meeting the Challenges of Archives and Records Management in New Jersey." The conference commemorated the 25th Anniversary of the Division, and featured plenary and concurrent sessions on a wide variety of topics ranging from the conservation of ancient parchment to the management of modern electronic records. The event was attended by about 280 record keepers and IT professionals.
At Archives Day on October 11, 2008, Deputy Director for Archives Joseph R. Klett, received the Roger McDonough Award for excellence in service to the New Jersey history research community. The award, begun in 2002, is given by the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference’s New Jersey Caucus, the New Jersey Library Association’s History and Preservation Section, and the New Jersey Historical Commission. Mr. Klett has been chief of operations at the State Archives since 2000, and was collection manager for eleven years prior.
The State Archives’ four-year Save America’s Treasures (SAT) project to preserve New Jersey’s most important Revolutionary War-era documents recently reached the "home-stretch" when staff sent the seventh and final shipment of manuscripts to the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) for treatment. The final cache of documents included records of seized property and forfeited estates of Loyalists who served with or supported the British during the Revolution. The project is funded through a 2004 joint grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Park Service.
The State Archives, as part of a five-institution consortium, has begun work on a statewide preservation planning initiative for New Jersey. Along with the Newark Museum, the State Library, the State Museum, and Rutgers University Libraries, the State Archives has leveraged an IMLS "Connecting to Collections" grant with an NHPRC "State and National Archival Partnerships" grant (the latter through the NJ State Historical Records Advisory Board). In addition to the tier-one partners, the planning will involve representation from all sizes and disciplines of museums, libraries, and archives in the state. Project goals include: to determine the advisability of establishing a conservation center in New Jersey, to explore opportunities for shared archival and museum storage, and to develop models for disaster planning and emergency response.
Thanks to a grant from the New Jersey Society of Colonial Wars, five of the most significant documents from the ancient proprietary records of the Province of West New Jersey are now being treated by the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia (CCAHA). Of special significance are the 1664 lease and release of James, Duke of York, to John, Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret--together comprising the "birth certificate" of the English colony. Also, another proprietary-period treasure recently returned to the State Archives following treatment at CCAHA: the 1684 Record Book of East Jersey Governor Robert Barclay, it being the most significant item acquired by the Archives at Christie’s in June 2005. The tome contains transcriptions of original land grants, legal cases, correspondence with officials including William Penn, and a record of the proceedings of Lords Proprietors during 1682-84.
The State Archives recently added three databases to its web site: an index to Passaic County and Atlantic City returns from the 1885 New Jersey State Census; an index to legal name changes during the period 1847-1947; and an index to inventories of Revolutionary War damages to personal estates by British and American soldiers during 1776-1782.
New Jersey State Archives has also posted new "Imaged Collections": birth certificates of children of Hunterdon County slaves from the period 1804-1835 (415 images); a collection of photography of former State Geologist Dr. Henry B. Kümmel documenting the dismantlement of the Morris Canal; and Dr. Kümmel’s photography of the repurposing of the Delaware and Raritan Canal. The latter two sites were created in conjunction with a presentation on the canals by Joseph Klett at the MARAC Spring Meeting in Chautauqua, NY.
Western Reserve Historical Society News
Margaret Burzynski-Bays, Manuscripts Division, Western Reserve Historical Society
2008 has been a busy, productive year in the Manuscripts Division of the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio. The society appointed former Associate Curator for Philanthropic and Non-profit History Margaret Burzynski-Bays to the post of Curator of Manuscripts. Margaret manages all curatorial, archival processing, and digital initiatives for the library. Her first digital project, conducted through a partnership with Aptigent Software of Beachwood, Ohio, was an online searchable index to the Cleveland Servicemen's Photograph Collection. Before the end of the year, a searchable index to the marriage and death records of the Cleveland Jewish Review and Observer will be added to the WRHS web site.
The division also has several completed and ongoing archival processing projects. The records of the City Mission of Cleveland have been processed, and before the end of the year the records of the Progressive Slovene Women of America and the Women's Community Foundation will be completed. Seven hundred and fifty cubic feet of the congressional papers of Howard Metzenbaum are currently being processed by a team headed by Hannah Kemp-Severence. Hannah previously worked with Margaret on the LTV Steel archival processing project that applied the principles of More Product, Less Processing to process 3,800 cubic feet of records in two years. Hannah and her team are applying that experience to Senator Metzenbaum's papers, and all staff and volunteer processing projects are applying more efficient methods and standards to appropriate projects.
PACSCL Consortial Survey Initiative Nears Conclusion
Christine Di Bella, PACSCL Consortial Survey Initiative and The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
The Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) is nearing the conclusion of its Mellon Foundation-funded Consortial Survey Initiative. The project, which assesses unprocessed and underprocessed archival collections in 22 area institutions, will wrap up in December 2008, having developed a common assessment model for repositories in PACSCL and improved physical and intellectual control over nearly 2,100 collections totaling over 19,500 linear feet. The data from the survey is already being used to develop consortial projects to further improve access to these collections through processing and cataloging.
To mark the occasion, PACSCL is hosting a two-day conference titled "Something New for Something Old: Innovative Approaches to Managing Archives and Special Collections." Featuring an outstanding lineup of national speakers, the conference will be both a celebration of the work that has been done and a look into the future in areas such as appraisal, cataloging and description, processing, and digitization. Information about the conference and the project is available at http://www.pacsclsurvey.org/.
Minnesota Historical Society Receives NEH Grant to Process Mondale Papers
Dennis Meissner, Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation & Access grant to arrange and describe the Walter Mondale Papers and to develop a Mondale web portal and other digitized content. The $176,550 award will pay for two years of full-time work, most of which will address appraising, arranging, and describing the 1,000 cubic feet of Mondale Papers that remain unprocessed. The ambitious processing target of 10 feet per week will also test the application of MPLP processing assumptions to a high-profile collection.
This collection of his personal papers encompasses Mondale’s entire career, from his terms as Minnesota’s attorney general (1960-1964), through his senatorial career (1964-1976), his years as vice president (1977-1980), his 1984 presidential campaign, and subsequent public service. The MHS collection that documents his career so fully is an archival resource of national and international significance, and one that is only marginally accessible to researchers. Walter Mondale has been credited with transforming the modern office of the Vice President, and the research significance of his papers continues to grow as the purpose, public expectations, and authority of that office evolves in the current political discourse.
Reviewers lavished high praise on the proposal, and NEH has decided to include it amongst its We the People projects, which support work that explores significant themes and events in the nation’s history.
News from George Mason University
Jordan Patty, Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University
George Mason Special Collections and Archives (SC&A) recently redesigned its web site to provide better access and more information about its rare book, manuscript, oral histories, and university archives collections, as well as its thesis, dissertation, and records management services. Please visit the web site at http://sca.gmu.edu/.
SC&A recently acquired and processed the papers of David Pass. David Pass was born on January 14, 1938 in Paterson, New Jersey and graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1954. Pass earned a bachelor's from Columbia University in New York in 1958, a master's from the Architecture School in 1962, a B.S. from the Engineering School in 1964, a master's in city planning from University of California in Berkeley (also in 1964) and the equivalent of a Ph.D. in city planning from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm in 1969. During his years as a student, he worked primarily as a planner for both public and private organizations in New York, Sweden, and California. From 1964-1969, he worked in the Royal Institute of Technology as the project director and chief researcher on "Vallingby and Farsta: The Suburban Development process in a Large Swedish City", which was later published as a book by MIT Press. Following his work in Sweden, he returned to the United States to work as the Director of New Communities and Environmental Quality in the New York State Urban Development Corporation. A career employee of HUD from 1973 until his 2003 retirement, Pass worked as the Senior Financial and Economic Advisor in the New Community Development Corporation and then later in Indian Affairs. In addition to writing "Vallingby and Farsta from Idea to Reality: the New Community Development Process in Stockholm" (1973), he also wrote "New Communities in New York State" (1971) and many other articles on new towns in Sweden and the United States. He died in Bethesda, Maryland on July 18, 2007.
The David Pass papers contain correspondence, oral histories, research files, photographs, maps, and plans that document the development and study of new towns in the United States and internationally, particularly Sweden. The collection thoroughly documents Pass's career at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, the Urban Development Corporation in New York, and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C. Although the inclusive dates span from 1934 to 2001, the bulk of the collection dates from the early 1960s to the early 1980s. A finding aid is available at http://furbo.gmu.edu/sca/vifgm00105.xml.
Town center, Vällingby, Sweden, 1960s. David Pass papers, box 30, folder 1.
Congressional Papers available at the Willamette University
Mary McKay, Mark O. Hatfield Library, Willamette University
Michael J. Kopetski papers, 1976-1995
Mike Kopetski, a native of Pendleton, Oregon, served in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1985 to 1989 and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995 as a Democratic member. During his time in Congress, Kopetski sat on the Agricultural Committee and the Ways and Means Committee. He worked on bills dealing with MFN (Most Favored Nation) status for China, nuclear weapons testing, and the Forest and Community Survival Act of 1991. Kopetski was the point person responsible for successfully getting NAFTA through the House of Representatives in 1993. He also worked closely with Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield to get the Opal Creek National Reserve legislation through the House in 1993. He was not a candidate for reelection in 1995. Since leaving Congress, Kopetski has worked as a lobbyist.
The bulk of the Michael J. Kopetski papers consist of materials generated and received by the office of Kopetski during his two terms representing Oregon's Fifth District in the U.S. House of Representatives including: constituent and issue mail; roll call votes and voting records; campaign files for the 1988, 1990, and 1992 congressional elections; press releases and speeches; legislative and committee files; and audio and visual materials. Records generated and received by Kopetski's office during his two terms in the Oregon State Legislature are also in the collection. This collection is open to researchers.
Robert Notson was born in Lexington, Oregon, on December 28, 1902, to parents whose ancestors came to North America on the Mayflower. He attended grade school in Heppner, Oregon, and began his career in journalism at age twelve when he edited and printed a community newspaper, The Heppner Budget. After attending high school in Salem, Oregon, and graduating from Willamette University in 1924, Notson attended Columbia University's School of Journalism in New York City and worked for the Brooklyn Eagle. Upon returning to Portland, Oregon, he began a 50-year career at The Oregonian. Hired as a reporter he worked his way to Publisher, a position he held until retirement. Notson was active with the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) serving as both director and president of that organization. It was in this capacity that he and his wife, Adelia, met President Lyndon Johnson. In 1974, Notson was given the Oregon Newspaper Association's Voorhies Awards for his outstanding contributions to journalism. A long-time member of Willamette University's Board of Trustees he received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 1971 and was awarded the Les Sparks Medallion in recognition of his years of service and loyalty to Willamette in 1994. In his capacity as a Mayflower descendant, Notson was an active participant in both the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) and the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Oregon (SMDSO), serving as deputy governor and program chair of the latter organization.
The Robert C. Notson papers consist of correspondence, writings, speeches, clippings, photographs, and scrapbooks dating from 1905 to 1999. The bulk of the materials dates from the 1960s through the 1980s and documents his career in journalism, including serving as editor and publisher of The Oregonian newspaper and as president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. The collection also includes: files relating to his position on Willamette University’s Board of Trustees; his involvement in the Society of Mayflower Descendants; family correspondence (1945-1948); family photographs; his retirement; and correspondence and speeches relating to the book he authored, "Making the Day Begin," and the book he co-edited with his wife, Adelia (White) Notson, "Stepping Stones: The Pilgrims Own Story." Many of Notson's speeches and writings have handwritten annotations. Examples of topics covered include Watergate, prayer in schools, and social security. Scrapbooks, organized chronologically, document Notson's entire career including an original issue of The Heppner Budget, which he published at age twelve. Two scrapbooks belonging to his wife, Adelia (White) Notson, and his daughter, Jane (Notson) Gregg, document their respective experiences as Willamette University students.
Denny Smith, a native of Ontario, Oregon, was first elected as a Republican to the Ninety-seventh Congress in 1980 to serve Oregon’s Second District. The 1980 census gave Oregon another congressional district and in 1982 Smith was elected as the first representative from Oregon’s Fifth Congressional District. Smith served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 to 1991. While in Congress Smith sat on the Budget Committee, the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, and the Veteran’s Affairs Committee. In the early 1980s Smith focused on Pentagon spending. In January, 1984, he was successful in forcing further testing of the Aegis guided-missile cruiser. Later that year the Divad (division air defense) program was shut down as a result of Smith's investigation into over-spending and poor test results. After an unsuccessful campaign in 1990, he was succeeded by Democrat Mike Kopetski. In 1994, Smith was the Republican nominee for governor of Oregon and lost to Democrat John Kitzhaber. Since leaving Congress, Smith has served as chairman of Eagle Newspapers, a family owned newspaper business, and has remained active in local and national politics.
The Dennis A. "Denny" Smith papers document Smith's campaigns from 1980 through 1990 and his legislative and voting record representing Oregon in the 97th Congress through the 101st Congress. The collection also contains materials collected by the Friends of Denny Smith (FODS) including pressing clippings from 1981 to 1990. The Daily Schedule file sorters in the Personal/Political series contain a detailed record of appointments, invitations, and roll calls for Smith from 1985 to 1990. This collection is open to researchers.
"According to ye latest and most Exact Observations": Digitizing Rare Maps at the University of Washington Special Collections
Sammy Franklin, Special Collections, University of Washington
In an essay on the history of cartography, scholar J. B. Harley writes:
For many centuries maps have been employed as literary metaphors and as tools in analogical thinking. There is thus also a wider history of how concepts and facts about space have been communicated, and the history of the map itself--the physical artifact--is but one small part of this general history of communication about space.*
Whether a devoted scholar of cartographic history, one can always marvel at the beauty, scale, and unique qualities of antique maps, as well as their relationship to geographic spaces they seek to illustrate and the information they convey. From mythical sea beasts afloat in an abyss of blank, unexplored seas to the elaborate carving up of the "New World," rare maps demonstrate not only a change in geographical knowledge, but also the progression of Western civilization’s conception of the world as it has aged over the past five hundred years.
As part of the continued commitment of the Special Collections Division of the University of Washington Library to support and promote the study of history and its own collection of rare and archival material, the Division is in the process of digitizing over one hundred rare maps, dating between the 16th to 19th centuries. Through a combination of careful large-scale scanning techniques, CONTENTdm software, and intensive scholarly research on each map’s creation and historical context. The new world maps database, upon completion, will allow scholars, historians, and researchers access to rich color digital images of the rare maps.
The project began in June 2008 as the brainchild of Kristin Kinsey, Digital and Visual Materials Specialist in the Special Collections Division. Due to her affinity for these maps, Kinsey set aside time for the digitization process. After identifying the cataloged and uncataloged rare maps in the collection, Kinsey oversaw the map scanning and the formation of pertinent metadata that would apply to the maps. A University of Washington Information School student, Sammy Franklin, also aided in the construction and format of metadata and continues to conduct historical research for each map.
While still in process, the rare maps database is projected to be fully available to the public by spring 2009.
*Harley, J. B. "The map and the development of the history of cartography," in The History of Cartography Volume I: Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
American Heritage Center Completes Formal Collecting Policy Mark A. Greene, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming
The American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, is pleased to announce the completion of a five-year effort to analyze the entirety of our holdings and define a formal collecting policy. The policy, having been reviewed by UW faculty and approved by the Provost, is also being applied retroactively, as the basis for a major reappraisal and deaccession project, supported in part by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The policy is available online, here (a closely related document, the AHC's Collection Management Policy, may be found here).
The creation and maintenance of a formal and public collection development policy is a part of the AHC's 5-year academic plan, finalized in 2004. However, work on the policy began in the fall of 2002, when AHC faculty and staff were assigned to the first set of a series of task forces, each lasting approximately six months, and each focused on one or more topical collecting areas. The specific topics into which the collecting universe was divided for this work were borrowed from a major collection analysis and development exercise undertaken by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (now the Wisconsin Historical Society) in the 1980s, amended where necessary to best fit the AHC's collections.
Each task force was charged with 1) analyzing the quantity and quality of AHC holdings in its assigned topical areas, and where necessary breaking that analysis down into more workable sub-categories. 2) Determining the location and holdings of other repositories in the U.S. with collections directly related to AHC holdings. 3) Analyzing use records for materials in the major sub-categories, and to analyze and prioritize likely user groups for current and future collections (this will include discussion with relevant UW faculty). 4) Recommending a specific collecting policy for each of the sub-categories. 5) Recommending, based on that collecting policy, extant collections at AHC for deaccessioning or significant reduction. 6) Recommending, based on that collecting policy, appraisal guidelines for retained and yet to be acquired collections.
The recommendations from each task force were forwarded to the AHC's senior management staff for further discussion and (usually) revision. When all topical areas had completed this stage, the full collection development policy was presented for comment to the Center's Board of Advisors and Board of Faculty advisors. After responding to these comments, the draft policy was presented to the University's deans and directors for further comment. The draft then was posted online and a call for comments was sent to the University faculty. Finally, the revised draft was forwarded to the university's office of academic affairs for further review and ultimate approval. Now that the final policy is placed for public assessment, comments are still welcome, and will be considered when the policy undergoes formal review.
It is the intention of the AHC's administration to conduct formal (though probably abbreviated) reviews of the entire collecting policy every five years. Prior to the first review, however, attention will be focused on further and formally prioritizing among the many actively collected topical areas. This process will better match the policy to the AHC's resources. Concomitantly, decisions will be made concerning division of responsibility among Center archivists for actively managing portions of the collecting policy. In this way the policy will remain an active and flexible document, rather than one shoved to the back of everyone's shelves and forgotten. Finally, one or more AHC archivists will be encouraged to write and submit for professional publication an article about the process undertaken to create this policy, to further archival discourse on the importance of such endeavors.
The retroactive application of the policy began as each topical area analysis/policy was completed. In 2005 we began what would become a three-year NHPRC grant, the second and third years of which were partly focused on reappraisal and deaccessioning (the other focus of the grant was to catalog the AHC's unprocessed collections, create 265 new EAD finding aids, and conduct an extensive user survey of opinions about "More Product, Less Process" approach to arrangement and description). Reappraisal was conducted under the structure defined in the Center's Collection Management Policy. The development of that part of the policy is discussed in detail in Mark A. Greene, "What WERE We Thinking? Embracing Reappraisal and Deaccessioning as a Collection Management Tool," Provenance 20 (2002) 33-49. The philosophy and management principles behind the decision to employ reappraisal and deaccessioning on a large scale are related in Mark A. Greene, "I've Deaccessioned and Live to Tell About It: Confessions of an Unrepentant Reappraiser," Archival Issues, 30:1 (2006), 7-22.
By February 2008, the AHC had reappraised 335 collections, of which 78% were deaccessioned. Those not deaccessioned were cataloged, transferred to the UW Libraries, or deferred for later action. Of the deaccessioned collections, 60% were transferred to other repositories, 10% were returned to donors, 12% were discarded, and the remainder are still looking for homes. Collections sent to other repositories were either donated or transferred with the donor's permission. The total cubic feet deaccessioned during this period was 9,180. (During the year preceding start of the grant, we deaccessioned 30 collections totaling 2,027 cubic feet.)
The collection analysis, collection policy, and reappraisal/deaccessioning project all garnered the AHC goodwill from the UW administration, because they addressed longstanding needs of the repository. The repositories to which we transferred collections were pleased, of course, some being quite appreciative because the collections received were truly significant to their holdings. (The collections have been dispersed to 163 different repositories in seven countries!) As importantly, the little comment engendered by this work from AHC donors and patrons has been more positive than negative. Indeed, the AHC received only three negative responses from collection donors upset about reappraisal decisions; two were completely mollified by extended explanations of the larger context of our action, leaving only one (.002%) with continued bad feelings. One key indicator of constituent response is that AHC's annual fund donations have increased every year since we began this work, notwithstanding the fact that from the beginning even the deaccessioning was reported in our newsletter and annual report.
Every AHC archivist (and a few paraprofessionals) participated in the collection analysis/policy development. Several, lead by processing archivist Laura Uglean Jackson, worked on the reappraisal and deaccessioning project. The AHC administration will encourage one or more archivists to submit session papers and/or articles for publication analyzing these two developments in greater detail. In the meantime, questions can be directed to AHC director Mark Greene,