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Administration and Programs

Harvard University Archives

Harvard University Archives



The Harvard University Archives supports the University's mission of education and research by striving to preserve and to provide access to Harvard's historical records; to gather an accurate, authentic, and complete record of the life of the University; and to promote the highest standards of management for Harvard's current records. The Archives' mission requires staff to anticipate and plan for future record-keeping trends, while continuing to build collections of permanent records from the 17th through the 21st centuries. Several important initiatives this past year exemplify this responsibility:

  • continuing to build the collection of harvested University web sites as a first, concrete step in collecting University records in digital format;
  • participating in a project to determine methods for preserving and storing e-mail; and
  • completing the processing and production of an online guide to the Josiah Royce papers, one of the most important faculty collections among the Archives' holdings.

Building the Collections

This was the second year of full-time attention devoted to the comprehensive collection of both University records and personal papers of Harvard faculty. In FY 2009, Archives staff accessioned 725 cubic feet of new materials. A sample of the materials collected include:

University records, such as

  • records from the University Marshal, including presidential inauguration materials, international and VIP visitor files, and delegate files;
  • administrative records and student files from the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies
  • publications from the Department of Athletics;
  • records from the History, English and American Literature and Language, Music, and Psychology departments;
  • summer school faculty biographical information, 1894–1942 and 1948–1990, from the Division of Continuing Education;
  • records created by the office of Professor Lamberg-Karlovsky, Peabody Museum; 
  • Women and Public Policy Program (WAPPP) records from the John F. Kennedy School of Government;
  • a copy of Black & Crimson: A Guide for Our Freshmen, Harvard-Radcliffe Afro-American Cultural Center;
  • notebooks and log books related to the Sutton Island houses (Paine and Kendall houses), University Cultural Property; and
  • records and publications of the Harvard Underwater Sound Laboratory, operated by the University from 1941 to 1949 under contract to the National Defense Research Committee/Office of Scientific Research and Development.

Papers of faculty and senior administrators, including those of the following current and former members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Harvard School of Public Health:

  • Elkan Blout, Edward S. Harkness Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Emeritus and Dean for Academic Affairs, Harvard School of  Public Health;
  • William H. Bond, Librarian of Houghton Library, Emeritus;
  • Jerome S. Bruner, Professor of Psychology;
  • David H. Donald, Charles Warren Professor of History and Professor of American Civilization, Emeritus;
  • Donald H. Fleming, Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History, Emeritus;
  • Mason Hammond, Pope Professor of the Latin Language and Literature, Emeritus;
  • Chester Hanford, Professor of Government and Dean of Harvard College;
  • Jennifer Hochschild, Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government and Professor of African and African American Studies;
  • Gerald James Holton, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Professor of the History of Science, Emeritus;
  • Hendrick S. Houthakker, Henry Lee Professor of Economics, Emeritus;
  • Jeremy Knowles, Amory Houghton Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences;
  • Arthur Becket Lamb, Erving Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Chemical Laboratory;
  • Robert Levine, Roy Edward Larsen Professor of Education and Human Development, Emeritus and Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus;
  • Lewis Lockwood, Fanny Peabody Research Professor of Music;
  • Samuel Eliot Morison, Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History, Emeritus;
  • Charles Eliot Norton, Professor of History of Art, Emeritus;
  • Frederick Clifton Packard Jr., Professor of Public Speaking, Emeritus;
  • Barbara Gutman Rosenkrantz, Professor of the History of Science, Emerita; and
  • George Wald, Higgins Professor of Biology, Emeritus.

Several notable alumni/ae, student, and other manuscript acquisitions, including:

  • photographs and films from the Classes of 1908, 1921, 1936, and 1943;
  • various records from the Harvard Advocate, the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus, the Harvard Graduate Council, the Harvard Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and the Harvard Krokodiloes;
  • a bound volume of Harvard Daily News, vol. 1 no. 1 (Sept. 25, 1894) through vol. 2 no. 105 (June 21, 1895);
  • records of the Harvard Black Alumni Society;
  • an Oak Club t-shirt with the words "No one ever says 'I want to go to Yale when I grow up.' on the front and "Harvard, my anti-Yale" on the back, sold by students to coincide with the annual Harvard-Yale football game;
  • a poster of a Harvard football player by noted illustrator John E. Sheridan, 1901; and
  • a watercolor illustration of a pink sabatia by Katherine Van Leeuwen for Stephen F. Hamblin's “Our Wild Flower Garden.”

Serving Researchers

The collections at the University Archives are in active use year-round by those who visit the Archives and those who work remotely and contact staff for assistance by e-mail. The Public Services staff serves a broad audience, including not only University students, faculty, administrators, and alumni/ae, but a significant number of visiting scholars from around the world. On average, the Public Services staff devotes approximately 100 hours per week, or 5,000 hours annually, to meeting the information and research needs of the University's administration and providing curriculum support for FAS faculty. Administrative research support encompasses in-depth review of archival records pertaining to University policies and programs. Curriculum support involves consultation with faculty on courses that draw on collections in the Archives, orientation sessions for students, preparation of topical research guides, and research support for faculty and students throughout the course.

In FY 2009, Public Services staff (comprising reference and holdings management)

  • provided research assistance for 3,856 onsite patron visits, answered 2,341 offsite reference inquiries, and answered an estimated 2,000 telephone requests;
  • prepared materials for over 60 Harvard offices, with assistance addressing anniversary preparations, background research for speeches, building renovations, development initiatives, photo identification, event planning, and policy questions;
  • circulated over 13,457 items (a roughly 40% increase over FY 2008) from the onsite stacks and reading room, and 4,630 items from the Harvard Depository;
  • provided curriculum support for six Harvard courses including Religion 1513 (History of Harvard and Its Presidents), Expository Writing 20 (Conformity and Rebellion), History 84b (The American Revolution), and GSE S-508 (Methods of Research in the History of Education);
  • initiated the prototype phase of the Weissman Preservation Audiovisual Survey using the Archives' film collection; and
  • created a display on the history of Harvard presidency for the University Marshal/Allston Initiative and participated in SeptemberFest, an outreach program for GSAS students.

Improving Access to Collections

The Collections Services staff are challenged by a need to provide greater access to legacy while simultaneously improving control over contemporary collections comprising a wide variety of record formats.

In FY 2009, Collections Services staff

  • processed several collections relating to the Harvard College Observatory's Boyden Station in Arequipa, Peru, for digitization as part of the Open Collections Program's Expeditions and Discoveries project, including 1,200 photographs of the Boyden Station and the surrounding community;
  • cataloged and re-housed 600 issues of accrued serials, 950 monographs, 500 class reports, 221 PhD dissertations, 339 ALM theses, 22 ThD dissertations, 148 honors theses, and 147 prize papers;
  • participated in the 18-month Archivists' Toolkit Pilot Project, with all new accessions now recorded using the toolkit;
  • completed a four-year project to preliminarily organize and describe unprocessed accessions of faculty papers received prior to 2007;
  • added 3,925 new and 6,789 updated bibliographic records to HOLLIS; and
  • digitized, cataloged, and deposited 1,305 new images now stored in the DRS.

Serving Harvard's Staff

In 1995, the Harvard Corporation charged the University Archives with the responsibility for overseeing a “comprehensive records management program throughout the University.” Records Management Services (RMS) fulfills that directive and establishes guidance and policy for records management at the University. In addition to promulgating records schedules and procedures, RMS offers guidance on topics of particular interest to Harvard entities and manages the relations of University offices with offsite records centers. FY 2009 saw a marked increase in RMS activity due in part to side effects of the financial conditions.

In FY 2009, Records Management staff provided services to 479 individual University offices by

  • developing a new iSite to assist in communicating with offices;
  • fulfilling 3,409 orders for University offices;
  • conducting 192 client consultations, 55 peer consultations, and 23 surveys;
  • offering 23 training sessions for 253 University personnel;
  • adding two new workshops for University staff: “Managing Your Records Center Account” and “Spring Cleaning: Clearing Up (and Out!) Your Records”;
  • developing and distributing guidelines to University offices for records assistance during times of financial exigency;
  • continuing to coordinate with the University Information Security Officer to ensure that RMS practices and policies are compliant with and supportive of the University's enterprise security policy;
  • developing (and posting to the iSite) new guidelines: “E-Mail Management: A Guide for Harvard Administrators” and “Managing Legacy Records: A Guide for Supervisors of Separating Employees”;
  • finalizing terms of engagement with IKON to ensure that University offices seeking scanning services receive records management guidance;
  • finishing 166 harvests of data from 48 web sites for storage in the DRS;and
  • participating in a project intended to develop a system to preserve and store e-mail.