Open Collections Program continues to bring value to researchers

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In 2002, Harvard opened another online door to its vast collections via the Open Collections Program, an early effort to design web-accessible collections to support research, teaching and learning for anyone with internet access. The initiative posted 2.3 million pages of materials from across Harvard’s libraries online, which are still regularly used by researchers.

With initial funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, subject specialists from Harvard’s libraries, archives and museums collaborated with faculty members to create the first open collection, Women Working, 1800–1930, an exploration of women’s roles in the US economy between 1800 and the Great Depression. Following the launch of Women Working, five additional collections were developed and made available online.

“We wanted to push out to the world Harvard’s unique materials,” said Megan Sniffin-Marinoff, University Archivist. “It was the library’s first real experiment in creating a robust web presence that brought together, in a series of discrete projects, a mix of digitized special collections and archives materials from multiple units across the University.”