Project summary To improve access to one of its most important photograph collections, the Harvard University Archives received funding from the Harvard Library's Hidden Collections Initiative to catalog, re-house, and digitize 6000 photographic prints of views of Harvard and Cambridge dating from the mid-19th through the 20th centuries. The project experimented with a new workflow producing MARC records and EAD finding aids accessible in Harvard Library discovery systems and beyond, with links to images created using the Archives' imaging workstation.
Workflow and Personnel This project began in July 2015 with project archivist Olivia Mandica-Hart conducting a survey of the Harvard University Archives’ HUV photograph collections. In her survey, Olivia identified 369 individual collections, totaling 7,500 photographs, within the scope of the HUV Harvard Views photograph collection, a much larger number than we had anticipated at the time of writing the Hidden Collections proposal. Following the survey, Olivia and project supervisor Jennifer Pelose met with Weissman photograph cataloger Robert Burton and photograph conservator Erin Murphy to assess re-housing needs for the project. Due to the varying sizes of images within each individual collection, Robert and Erin recommended storing the photographs upright inside tall document boxes. Appropriate supplies were then purchased.
To establish priorities for digitization and enhanced description, Olivia and Jennifer met with Public Services archivists to assess researcher demand/frequency of use among the 369 collections. As a result, 26 priority collections were identified, including many buildings in the Old Yard (Massachusetts Hall, Hollis Hall, Harvard Hall, University Hall), several River House dormitories, libraries (Widener, Lamont), and other buildings of particular note (Holden Chapel, Memorial Hall, Memorial Church, Harvard College Observatory, the Faculty Club, and Harvard Stadium).
With Olivia transitioning into her new role as our permanent processing archivist, the project archivist position was re-posted, and Amanda Sherman started on the project in late October. Olivia provided Amanda with the HUV survey, and frequently met with Amanda to acclimate her to the project as she started to rehouse and describe the collections. Decisions were also made regarding metadata capture and finding aid construction.
Once Amanda was on board, David Remington, Manager, Digital Imaging and Photography Services, arranged several training sessions with both Amanda and Olivia on use of the lightweight imaging workstation. Due to the difficulty of depositing digital images in the DRS, an agreement was reached with Imaging Services whereby Amanda digitized each HUV collection, saving the digital files to a server at Imaging Services. Subsequently, Imaging Services staff created the appropriate digital objects and deposited them in the DRS. Once the files were deposited into the DRS, Amanda then used the Link-o-matic tool to link the newly-deposited digital objects to the appropriate finding aids.
Results By the end of June 2016, the Harvard University Archives digitized 2,615 photographs (5230 images total, including fronts and backs of each photograph) from 26 HUV photograph collections using the Archives’ lightweight digitization workstation. Twenty-three collections are described in finding aids in HOLLIS, and three have stand-alone MARC records.