2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


HARDY, Shaun J., DTM-Geophysical Laboratory Library, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 5241 Broad Branch Road, N.W, Washington, DC 20015, hardy@dtm.ciw.edu

The Carnegie Legacy Project was initiated in 2003 to preserve, organize, and facilitate access to the archival records of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Established in 1902, the Institution is one of the oldest privately-funded scientific research organizations in the United States. Its archives document a century of investigations in the geophysical sciences through field and laboratory notebooks, equipment designs, plans for observatories and research vessels, scientists' unpublished correspondence, and thousands of expedition photographs. Yet the Institution long lacked any systematic approach to managing its documentary heritage. A preliminary records survey conducted in 2001 identified more than 1,000 linear feet of historically-valuable records languishing in dusty, poorly-accessible storerooms at Carnegie's Geophysical Laboratory and Department of Terrestrial Magnetism. Intellectual control was minimal.

With support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, professional archivists were hired in 2003 to process the 100-year backlog of records. Policies and procedures were established to ensure that all work conformed to national archival standards. Records were appraised, organized, and rehoused in acid-free containers, and finding aids were created for the project web site. Descriptive cataloging for each collection was prepared for OCLC and the International Catalog of Sources for History of Physics. Selected field photographs and documents were digitized for online exhibitions to raise awareness of the archives among researchers and the general public.

The success of the Legacy Project depended on collaboration between archivists, librarians, historians, and geophysicists. Contacts established with other organizations, such as the National Geophysical Data Center and the USGS National Geomagnetism Program, were essential in formulating strategies to deal with the large volume of original geomagnetic, seismological, meteorological, and cosmic-ray data included in the archives. This presentation will discuss key aspects (funding, staffing, preservation, access, outreach) of the Legacy Project and is aimed at librarians who are responsible for archival collections in research institutes, museums, and geoscience departments.