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Harvard's Open Collections Program to Develop "Emigration and Immigration"

New online collection of historical materials will reflect strengths of library and museum holdings across the University

November 10, 2005—Harvard University will launch a new online collection of historical materials on emigration and immigration drawn from Harvard's extensive library and museum holdings. The new collection, entitled "Emigration and Immigration, 1789-1930," will be freely available on the Internet. The collection is part of the Harvard University Library's Open Collections Program (OCP), through which Harvard provides access to selected rare and historical books, manuscripts, and photographs from the University's network of libraries, archives, and museums.

"Emigration and Immigration" will provide Internet users with a multifaceted historical view of immigration to the United States, from the American Revolution to the Great Depression. The collection is being developed with the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, whose earlier support led to the creation of the Open Collections Program late in 2002.

According to Sidney Verba, Harvard's Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library, "Immigration has shaped the contours of this nation's history from its founding to the present day. Immigration has shaped the nation's cities, its institutions, industries, and laws, its literature and its culture. Harvard's world-renowned library and museum holdings reflect these realities through guidebooks, ethnic publications, policy documents, diaries, photographs, and organizational records that chronicle the continuing impact of immigration on the United States."

At a single URL, visitors to "Emigration and Immigration" will discover holdings from the Andover-Harvard Theological Library (at Harvard Divinity School), the Baker Library (Harvard Business School), the Countway Library of Medicine (Harvard Medical School), the Fogg Art Museum, the Gutman Library (Harvard Graduate School of Education), the Harvard Law School Library, the Harvard University Archives, the Frances Loeb Library (Harvard Graduate School of Design), and Radcliffe's Schlesinger Library, as well Harvard's world-renowned Widener Library. According to Verba, "Emigration and Immigration" will be completed and launched in May 2006.

An additional online resource, which will explore historical aspects of infectious disease, is also in the planning stages. This second resource will contain carefully selected and digitized manuscripts, rare books, and photographs that can document significant epidemics, such as malaria, cholera, and the Spanish influenza of 1918. Materials digitized will cover the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries and will draw heavily on the Countway Library of Medicine and Widener Library. The collection is being developed with the generous support of the Lisbet Rausing Charitable Trust.

"Throughout history," Verba noted, "infectious disease has proven to be a powerful destabilizing force responsible for dramatic social, economic, religious, and political change. Contemporary study of these tragic events and the diseases at the center of them has led to dramatic advances in human knowledge and revolutionized the study and practice of medicine."

Both new resources will build on the success of "Women Working, 1800-1930," the first digital resource created by the Open Collections Program. "Women Working" includes over 8,000 manuscript pages, 3,500 digitized books, and 1,100 photographs, all documenting women's roles in the US economy between 1800 and the Great Depression, including their working conditions, conditions in the home, costs of living, recreation, health and hygiene, conduct of life, policies and regulations governing the workplace, and social issues.

"In choosing and implementing topics for OCP," Verba stated, "we are focusing on historical events and situations that have great bearing on issues facing the world today. Harvard's goal is to increase access to our library holdings by developing online, subject-specific resources that are available to anyone in the world. Our librarians, curators, archivists, and museum professionals are working with Harvard's distinguished faculty to identify broad topics of general interest, link them to specific materials among our libraries and museums, and make them freely available on the Internet."

To learn more about Harvard's Open Collections Program, visit http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu.


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