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veritasHarvard University Library Notes, For Harvard Library Staff, Number 1337 May 2007

Harvard University Library Notes / May 2007 / No. 1337

Radcliffe Makes Multi-Million-Dollar Investment to Process Schlesinger Holdings

According to a review published in The American Archivist (Fall/Winter 2005), 60% of libraries across the United States are unable to share at least a third of their collections with researchers because they have not been processed for use; 34% acknowledge that more than half of their holdings are unprocessed. Believing that the documents that lead to historical understanding should be readily available to scholars, the Radcliffe Institute's Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America has announced that it will accelerate processing for nearly 5,000 linear feet of its holdings.

A multi-million-dollar project, this commitment will enhance access to the library's preeminent repository of richly diverse research materials focusing on the lives and contributions of American women, gender issues, and culinary history.

The project will begin on July 1, 2007, and is expected to take five years, a fraction of the time that would have been required without this support.

"It is exciting to contemplate how many wonderful collections will soon be made available to scholars and students because of this decision. This project marks a singular commitment by the Institute and the Schlesinger Library to facilitating access to the history of American women," said Nancy F. Cott, the Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library and Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

What will researchers gain access to as the project moves forward? Among the unique and revealing items are collections related to Adrienne Rich, American poet; Julia Child, culinary icon; Anna Chennault, Asian American businesswoman, author, and diplomat; Naomi Weisstein, pioneer in cognitive neuroscience and a strong voice for second-wave feminism; and the Massachusetts Defense Corps (including photographs by Ansel Adams). These and many other collections will be available to students and researchers far more swiftly than they might have without this commitment by the Radcliffe Institute.

Marilyn Dunn, executive director of the Schlesinger Library, said, "We are essentially putting our house in order as we also move forward, taking on new initiatives to make more of our holdings available online and acquiring more 'born digital' collections. Recent gifts from generous donors concerned with collection availability served as a catalyst and helped us to see what was possible. This new infusion of support will allow many additional collections to enjoy that same kind of attention."

"This support of the library is one of several strategic investments that the Institute has made to advance its mission since 1999," said Louise Richardson, executive dean of the Radcliffe Institute. "Our ambitious space plan, which included renovating the Schlesinger Library in 2005, and later the Radcliffe Gym and Byerly Hall, is another example."

The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America collects manuscripts, books, and other materials essential for understanding women's lives and activities in the United States. Among the library's holdings are the papers of important women in history, including suffragist leader Susan B. Anthony and aviator Amelia Earhart; a collection of more than 2,500 unique manuscripts of individuals, families and organizations; and a culinary collection spanning five centuries and several global cuisines. For more information, visit http://www.radcliffe.edu.


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