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$5 Million Gift Supports Harvard's Open Collections Program

Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin have given $5 million to support the Harvard University Library's Open Collections Program, which enables the University to make research materials from libraries across Harvard freely available over the Internet.

Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers lauded Lisbet Rausing PhD '93 and Peter Baldwin PhD '86 for their commitment to Harvard's libraries and to the expansion of knowledge on a global basis. "This gift represents a visionary and dramatic step in the University's efforts to share its outstanding collections with scholars and students around the world," Summers stated. "Intellectually curious people from every corner of the globe will have free access to such information, for the benefit of their studies, their interests, and their work."

"In the digital age," remarked Sidney Verba, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library, "resources from Harvard's libraries can be made available in ways that we could not envision a decade ago. The gift will benefit myriads of scholars and students who may never actually set foot in one of Harvard's libraries."

Harvard established the Open Collections Program in 2002 with the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. It is directed by Thomas J. Michalak, former executive director of Baker Library at the Harvard Business School. Its first subject-based resource, "Women Working, 1870-1930," will provide access to digitized resources selected from Harvard's library and museum collections on women's roles in the US economy between the Civil War and the Great Depression, including working conditions, conditions in the home, health and hygiene, conduct of life, and much more. When completed, the collection will contain more than 2,200 books and pamphlets, 1,000 photographs, and 10,000 pages from manuscript collections gathered from the libraries of Harvard College and the graduate schools of business, education, medicine, and law, as well as from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study's Schlesinger Library and the Fogg Art Museum. "Women Working" can be viewed online at

Donors Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin said, "Harvard's Open Collections Program is part of Harvard's commitment to making its knowledge resources freely available to the world at large. Such spreading of its intellectual wealth should be encouraged, praised, and supported. We particularly hope that the Open Collections will address subjects that affect the global community and that can serve as neutral scholarly reference points in the debates of today."

Lisbet Rausing is a historian, and received her BA from the University of California at Berkeley and her PhD from Harvard.

Peter Baldwin is a professor of history at UCLA. He received his BA from Yale University and his PhD from Harvard University.

The Harvard University Library, founded in 1638, is the largest academic library system in the world. Harvard's rich and extensive collections serve as invaluable tools for teaching and research. These collections include books, journals, primary source materials, and audiovisual and digital resources that span a vast range of subjects, languages, and time periods. Access to most of these materials is integrated: print and digital resources on specific topics can often be located with a single search.

Through Harvard's Library Digital Initiative, digital library resources at Harvard are growing significantly. Today, these digital objects are discoverable through a variety of descriptive, online catalogs that include HOLLIS (the Harvard Online Library Information System), which contains more than 9 million records for all kinds of material in the Harvard University Library system; VIA (Visual Information Access) for images; OASIS (Online Archival Search Information System) for archival finding aids; and HGL (Harvard Geospatial Library) for geospatial resources. Through its use of cutting-edge technology, the Harvard University Library is offering online access to an increasing number of library holdings for the benefit of the general public. For more information about Harvard's libraries, visit

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Last modified on Friday, July 16, 2004.