Houghton Library's cataloged manuscript collections are now fully 
web-accessible through HOLLIS <>, with the 
finding aids available in OASIS <>, Harvard's 
finding aids database, and RLG's ArchivesGrid. The five-year project to 
migrate the manuscript card catalog to an electronic format saw the 
conversion of some 1,519 typescript collection finding aids to EAD 2002 
(43,618 pages) and the creation of 5,717 MARC records (916 new 
collection-level records and 4,801 new single-item manuscript records). 
Completed last month, the conversion project was funded by Harvard 
University's Library Digital Initiative, with matching funds from the 
Harvard College Library.

"If researchers can't find a description of it online these days, it 
doesn't exist," commented Project Director Leslie A. Morris, Houghton's 
Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts. "This project was essential to 
bring the library into the modern digital research environment, and to 
provide easy access to Houghton's unique manuscripts worldwide. 
Additionally, it gives us the bibliographic infrastructure on which to 
build digital content easily, further improving access to our 

Houghton's manuscript collection is diverse, with material in more than 40 
languages, and ranging in date from ostraca ca. 300 BCE to the latest novel by 
John Updike.  The retrospective conversion project focused on material in 
Western languages, for which at least minimal descriptive information existed. 
This included material in Breton, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, English, French, 
German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Latin, Norwegian, Portuguese, 
Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Welsh; as well as Ethiopic, Hebrew, Oriya, Pali, 
and Sanskrit.  For all materials, scope and content notes were added where 
needed; each single-item manuscript was examined and its physical description 
verified; old subject headings were standardized to conform to Library of 
Congress forms, and standard genre and form headings (such as diaries, galley 
proofs, seals, etc.) added.

In addition to Morris, the project team included a Project Coordinator (first 
Jackie Dean, then Diane Booton) who created MARC records, performed quality 
control on finding aids returned from vendors, and coordinated the work of the 
31 students employed by the project over the years who did rekeying, markup 
enhancement, and who provided additional language expertise.  Additionally, the 
grant funded a 15-month Project Cataloger (initially Diane Booton, latterly 
Susan Wyssen) to include the single-item manuscripts not part of collections.

"All projects throw off additional work to regular staff," acknowledged Morris, 
"and we could not have made such rapid progress without being able to off-load 
difficult finding aid conversion problems onto Senior Manuscript Cataloger 
Bonnie Salt, whose years of experience with Houghton manuscript cataloging made 
easy what, to temporary project staff, was difficult."  Houghton music 
cataloger Morris Levy contributed records for manuscript music, and Manuscript 
Cataloger James F. Coakley created records for Syriac and Department of 
Printing and Graphic Arts manuscripts, adding close to 1,000 records to the 
above totals.

Leslie A. Morris
Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts
Houghton Library, Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138

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phone:  617.495.2449
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