Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives
Litchfield Historical Society
Litchfield Historical Society's Revolutionary Era and Early Republic Holdings
This project produced descriptions of varied collections related 18th and 19th century America. Among the materials processed are the archives of the Litchfield Female Academy, founded by Sarah Pierce. At left: Sarah Pierce, attributed to George Catlin, c. 1830. Watercolor on ivory.
New York University
The Records of the Communist Party, USA: A Preservation and Access Project
This project created finding aids for the records of the Communist Party, USA and the Library of the Reference Center for Marxist Studies, which together document the history of Communism and the American Left in the 20th century. At left: Workers Alliance of New York, 1936. Daily Worker photograph morgue, Tamiment Library.
Northwestern University Library
The Africana Posters: Hidden Collections of Northwestern and Michigan State University Libraries
Mapping Special Collections for Research and Teaching at Goucher College
For this project, staff and students cataloged a 4,000 volume collection of Anglo-Saxon, Middle English, and Early Modern English texts and manuscript collections related to American dance, education, Jane Austen, Maryland history, U.S. history, women's studies, H.L. Mencken, and women in science.
Amistad Research Center
Working for Freedom: Documenting Civil Rights Organizations
This project will reveal nine collections of personal papers documenting Civil Rights era history, including branch and local chapter records of key Civil Rights organizations that have been hidden within the personal papers of individuals who were participants or officers. At left: Photo from the Ronnie Moore Papers.
University of Michigan Library
Collaboration in Cataloging: Islamic Manuscripts at Michigan
This project involves the creation and exposure of digital surrogates and catalog records for 1,250 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish dating from the 8th to the 20th centuries. Its website will provide unified access to records and digital surrogates and will allow scholarly experts to contribute bibliographic information and commentary.
Robert W. Woodruff Library, Atlanta University Center
Processing the Voter Education Project Collection
This project focuses on archival materials related to the Atlanta-based Voter Education Project (1954-1992), which was formed to increase political participation for minorities and develop a more informed electorate.
This project is creating in a searchable, online catalog linking the ephemera collections of four institutions: the California Historical Society; the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society; the San Francisco Public Library; and Society of California Pioneers.
University and Jepson Herbaria, UC Berkeley
Cataloging Hidden Archives of Western Botany and Beyond
This project will significantly improve access to the archival collections at the University and Jepson Herbaria, which document the history of western American botany from the 1860s to the present. The archives contain letters and field books of at least 200 individuals in addition to documents, photographs, and slides from scientists around the globe.
Getty Research Institute
Uncovering Archives and Rare Photographs
This project will document two archival processing methods used to describe varied collections documenting the intersections of art and language in the 20th century. Materials selected for cataloging include 26,000 rare photographs. At left: Émile Fréchon, Ouled Näil women playing cards, 1890s. Ken and Jenny Jacobson orientalist photography collection.
This three-year project involves processing materials relating to key civil rights organizations, leaders, and activities. The collections include materials related to some of the most transformational moments and movements of the era, including voter education, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the fight against Jim Crow laws, and desegregation. At left: Andrew Young and the Rev. Fred Bennett.
Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture
Providing Access to African American Collections at the Avery Research Center
This project uncovered historical materials related to African American culture in coastal South Carolina, including the Holloway family scrapbook; materials related to civil rights leaders, the experiences of African American women and sweet grass basket makers; and the notes, recordings, artifacts, and files of renowned anthropologists Joseph Towles and Colin Turnbull.
Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries
Hidden Collections in the Philadelphia Area
This two-year collaborative project involved processing select collections identified as being of high scholarly importance during the recently completed survey of the unprocessed holdings of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL). Project staff recorded their progress on the project's blog and via Twitter and Flickr.
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
San Francisco Examiner Photograph Archive Project
This project will arrange and describe the photograph morgue of the San Francisco Examiner, which comprises a comprehensive documentary record of life in Northern California over 75 years of the 20th century. At left: Photo by Blickfeldt. Examiner photo morgue library, January 21, 1942.
Brooklyn Historical Society
Uncovering the Secrets of Brooklyn's 19th Century Past
This project has revealed materials covering the period from 1834, when Brooklyn was first incorporated as a city, to its consolidation with New York City in 1898. At left: Map of the County of Kings, showing ward and town boundaries, October, 1869.
The California Digital Library
Uncovering California's Environmental Collections
This project is making accessible 33 hidden collections at institutions across California, providing a multifaceted picture of the state's environment and environmental history. At left: Materials from CSU Fresno, Henry Madden Library, Special Collections Research Center; Humboldt State University Library, Special Collections; and UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library, Department of Special Collections.
French Pamphlet Collections at the Newberry Library
This project will catalog four French pamphlet collections that are primary sources for legal, social and cultural history; literary studies; and the history of publishing in France.
Northeast Historic Film
Intellectual Access to Moving Images of Work Life, 1916-1960
This project will create descriptive records for 50 significant film collections dating from the first half of the 20th century. For further information about the project, please see Northeast Historic Film's press release (PDF). At left: Aurelius Hinds, the A.S. Hinds Laboratory, Portland, Maine. Aurelius Hinds II Collection.
Free Library of Philadelphia
Milestones in 20th-Century American Children's Literature
This project involves the processing of six archival collections documenting key contributions to 20th-century American children's literature by renowned authors and illustrators. At left: Away Went the Balloons, by Carolyn Haywood.
North Carolina State University Libraries
Changing the Landscape
This project will uncover over 40,000 original plans and drawings in both paper and electronic formats as well as related project files and records, documenting the contributions of six influential architects active in the latter half of the 20th century.
George Mason University
Uncovering a Forbidden World
The goal of this project is to process and create EAD finding aids and bibliographic records for a collection of 7,300 posters from the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), representing film, performing and visual arts, and political organizations and spanning the entire time of the country's existence (1949-1990).
The Moravian Community in the New World
This collaborative project with the Moravian Archives involves processing a selection of collections documenting the material culture, religious values and cultural diversity of the Moravian community of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1741-1851.
Northeast Historic Film
Moving Images 1938-1940: Amateur Filmmakers Record the New York World's Fair and Its Period
This project is a collaboration among NHF, the Queens Museum of Art, and the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. Collections to be cataloged relate to the New York World's Fair (1939–1940) and amateur filmmaking during that era. At left: Robert Decker Collection, Eastman Kodak Building, New York World's Fair, 1939. Frame enlargement from 16 mm. film.
WGBH Educational Foundation
Exposing Unknown Boston Local TV News Collections
The Boston Local TV News project is a collaboration of four institutions and their local tv news collections&mdash the Boston Public Library (BPL), Northeast Historic Film (NHF), WGBH, and Cambridge Community Television (CCTV). The project will create a shared catalog of 40 years of Boston television news from the collections of the 4 partners. At left: The Ten O'Clock News, circa 1978-1979, WGBH Media Library and Archives collection.
Harry Ransom Center
Revealing Texas Collections of Comedias Sueltas
This collaboration between the Harry Ransom Center and Texas A&M University Libraries will catalog Spanish plays from the late seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. The Ransom Center owns 14,000 sueltas, and Texas A&M University holds approximately 600 additional titles.
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
DNA to Dinosaurs
This project will catalog archival materials and special collections that document the early history of science at Yale and in North America. At left: Rudolph Zallinger, Artist–in–Residence, at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, beginning the daunting task of painting the 110–foot long Age of Reptiles mural in Peabody's Great Hall.
Documenting Mexican American & Latino Civil Rights
This project focuses on two collections: the records of The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), one of the most influential organizations working to protect the civil rights of Mexican Americans and Latinos in the United States; and the records of the California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), a legal advocacy organization for the rural poor in California, particularly Mexican American migrant workers.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Pruitt and Shanks Photographic Collection
This project will make available to scholars a very large collection of photographic negatives produced by two studio/commercial photographers in Columbus (Lowndes County), Mississippi, and the surrounding area from the late 1920s to the 1970s. At left: O. N. Pruitt (1891-1967), his staff, and equipment.
University of Pennsylvania
Promoting Research through Rare Book Cataloging Partnerships
This project will provide online catalog records for 33,500 titles in the Penn Libraries' Rare Book & Manuscript Library Culture Class Collection. It will rely heavily on contributions from students from relevant disciplines who, together with project catalogers, will develop new techniques to create dynamic, constantly evolving bibliographic records that will serve as initial points of discovery for scholars and also present results of new research. At left: Portion of a leaf from the 1488 Anton Koberger edition of the Legenda Aurea used as binder's waste.
San Diego History Center
Enhancing Access to the History of San Diego and the Border Region
The aim of this project is to create finding aids for 133 archival collections relating to economic, social, and cultural aspects of greater San Diego. Together, these materials constitute a comprehensive portrait of the history and evolution of America's ninth largest city and the surrounding region, including Baja California.
University of Chicago, on behalf of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium
The "Color Curtain" Processing Project
This collaborative project focuses on 150 Chicago-area collections that were identified as having high scholarly research value during the Black Metropolis Research Consortium's recent survey of unprocessed and inaccessible archival collections documenting African American history and culture. The included materials address political, cultural, social, spiritual and economic aspects of African Americans' lives throughout the history of Chicago.
J. Paul Getty Trust, on behalf of the Getty Research Institute
Open Plan, Open Access
For this project, staff will process the papers of architects Ray Kappe and William Krisel, both of whom sought to achieve the Modernist goal of creating housing that is well designed yet affordable. Incorporating project files, drawings, photographs, models and ephemera, these archives reflect the development of modern open–plan residential architecture in the second half of the twentieth century, especially in Southern California. At left: Kappe residence (Pacific Palisades, Calif.), 1968. Ray Kappe, architect; Julius Shulman, photographer. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. (c) J. Paul Getty Trust.
Arizona State University Libraries
Labor Rights are Civil Rights/Los Derechos de Trabajo Son Derechos Civiles
This project will make available to scholars six bilingual collections relating to the history of Mexican Americans in the Southwest. These collections reflect how labor, race, and civil rights have shaped the experiences of Mexican and Mexican Americans in the region. At left: A Demonstration for Mexican immigrant rights in downtown Phoenix, Arizona,1977. Maricopa County Organizing Project Records. Chicana/o Research Collection.
Hagley Museum and Library
Z. Taylor Vinson Transportation Collection Processing Project
This project will make available to scholars a wealth of materials related to the history of the automobile. International in scope, the collection includes an estimated 200,000 trade catalogues, newspapers and magazine advertisements, operators' manuals, showroom sales albums, dealer data books, corporate annual reports, periodical articles, books, and promotional toys and scale models.
Maine Maritime Museum
Merchant Mariners Muster: Cataloging Crew Manuscripts
This eighteen–month project will uncover forty–four separate manuscript collections relating to shipping, including numerous Maine sea captains' business papers, some ship owners' and customs house records, and a shipping agent's records. At left: Seamen aboard the Maine six–mast schooner Wyoming, at some point in the 1909–1924 period.
University of California Museum of Paleontology
Cataloging Hidden Archives of the University of California Museum of Paleontology
This project will catalogue the UCMP archives which document paleontological and geologic fieldwork in more than 80 countries and the historical and sociological contexts within which this work was done. The collections to be cataloged for this project reflect the lives of prominent western pioneers, such as Annie Alexander, Joseph LeConte, J.C. Merriam, and John Muir, and have a bearing on the history of higher education, natural resources, public policy and public administration, and the establishment of many western National Parks, State Parks and National Forests. At left: A Geological Survey of California field party, 1864; from the UCMP archives.
New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society American Almanac Collection
The New–York Historical Society's two–year project will uncover a collection of approximately 5,500 eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth century American almanacs, including an estimated 600 almanacs dating from before the year 1801. The collection is strongest in almanacs published in New York State, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, but it also includes representative examples from other states east and west of the Mississippi. At left: Gaines Almanac, 1776.
University of California at Santa Barbara, University Art Museum
Cataloguing Southern California's architectural history
The Architecture and Design Collection comprehensively and uniquely documents the history of the built environment of Southern California. This three-year project will address 240 uncatalogued archives. These include the papers of individuals—architects, landscape architects, designers, and a critic—and the records of design firms.
North Carolina State University Libraries
Acting for Animals
This two–year project will make accessible collections documenting the animal rights and animal welfare movements, including records of the Animal Rights Network (ARN), portions of the records of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and the Ron Scott Videotapes. The ARN records contain files from animal welfare organizations around the world and much correspondence documenting the coordination of the animal welfare movement.
Fray Angélico Chávez History Library, Museum of New Mexico Foundation
Mapas históricos de Nuevo México = Historic New Mexico Maps
This three–year project will make the History Library's map collection, consisting of nearly 6000 maps on New Mexico and the Southwest region, available to the public. These maps provide valuable historical information on topics as diverse as early Spanish exploration, American settlement in the Southwest, famous roads like the Camino Real and the Santa Fe Trail, water rights, the development of cities and counties, and more. At left: Laura Kohl, Project Cataloger and Archivist.
San Diego Museum of Man
Capturing History: Cataloging the San Diego Museum of Man's Photographic Collection
This two–year project will catalog a collection of 25,000 photographs taken from 1890 to the mid–1900s depicting the history of San Diego and the surrounding area. These photographs consist of assorted media, including albumen prints, glass negatives, and daguerreotypes. The images reveal a comprehensive pictorial study of life in the greater San Diego area, ranging from early contact with Native Americans up through the Panama–California Exposition and development of Balboa Park.
University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, American Geographical Society Library
Providing Access to the Archives of the American Geographical Society
A three-year project to organize, catalog and conserve the Archives of the American Geographical Society. These archives date from the Society's founding in 1851 and include approximately 540 cubic feet of material, with documents relating to well known figures in American exploration and the larger field of geography from the mid–nineteenth century through most of the twentieth.
The New York Archival Society
Cataloging Artifacts and Related Records of the World Trade Center Attack
The materials that are the subject of this one–year project include: 1) posters, letters, photographs and other ephemera left at Pier 94 and at the 9/11 memorial sites; 2) material placed in City parks and other public places; 3) artifacts of the World Trade Center buildings, vehicles, and other items from the site; 4) brochures and other printed material prepared by the Mayor's Community Assistance Unit to assist the victim families; and 5) correspondence sent to the Mayor's office and rescue workers. At left: Ground Zero memorial pool, September 11, 2008.
Amistad Research Center
Increasing Access to Africana Collections
This three–year project focuses on two organizational collections devoted to the decolonization of Africa. The American Committee on Africa (1953–2001) and The Africa Fund (1966–2001) worked to educate the American public and American policymakers on the legitimacy of African liberation movements and to provide assistance to liberation movements and the victims of colonial oppression in Africa.
About the Program
The application period for the 2013 cycle is now closed. Pending renewed funding, the application for the 2014 cycle will be available on this site in early 2014.
Libraries, archives, and cultural institutions hold millions of items that have never been adequately described. This represents a staggering volume of items of potentially substantive intellectual value that are unknown and inaccessible to scholars. This program seeks to address this problem by awarding grants for supporting innovative, efficient description of large volumes of material of high value to scholars.
The Council on Library and Information Resources administers this national effort with the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Since the program began in 2008, eighty-seven grants totaling nearly $20M have been made to a variety of institutions nationwide.
The primary criterion the review panel uses to evaluate projects is their potential national impact on scholarship and teaching. The second and third criteria are: innovative and/or highly efficient approaches to description that either adopt established model practices or serve as models for others, and the adoption of workflow, outreach, and data sharing practices that maximize connections to scholarly and other user communities. The panel requires the application of standards for processing and description that maximize the potential for interoperability and long-term sustainability for project data in the online environment. Most U.S.-based not-for-profit cultural heritage institutions are eligible for the program, and, beginning in 2013, Canadian cultural heritage institutions may participate as partners in U.S.-led collaborative projects. Applicants may nominate collections of any format and from any field worthy of national attention, but the collections in question must be truly hidden, that is, they must not currently be discoverable by scholarly users working within the relevant subject domains, either through digital or analog means.
All nonconfidential information that applicants supply is made publicly available through CLIR's Hidden Collections Registry. Applicants are encouraged to use this Registry to find partners working with similar collections. Joint or collaborative applications are strongly encouraged.
Although the program does not provide funds for the creation of digital surrogates of cataloged materials, CLIR hopes that many funded projects will ultimately be enhanced with publicly accessible digitized versions of the newly cataloged collections. For a more detailed description of the philosophy and mission of the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program, see CLIR's original proposal to the Mellon Foundation (pdf) and CLIR's most recent renewal request to the Foundation (pdf).
- Funded Projects (further details about funded projects)
- For Applicants (link to the online application system, guidelines, document templates, and FAQ)
- For Recipients (news, recipients mailing list, discussion area)
- (search interface for the registry)
- Related Resources (project websites, blogs, sample finding aids, and documentation)
- Hidden Collections Symposium (meeting of 2008 and 2009 grantees held in Washington, DC on March 29-30, 2010)
- Working for Freedom (recording of discussion of three civil rights-related projects from ARCHIVES*RECORDS/DC2010, joint meeting of COSA, NAGARA, and SAA, August 14, 2010)
- Advice for Grant Seekers in the Cultural Heritage Communities
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