May 19, 2022

Harvard Art Museum Archives Completes Cataloging Proect

From the Harvard Crimson:

Last month, the Archives announced the completion of a project to catalog items from its collection, which also include documents concerning the early development of the Harvard Art Museums and letters from T.S. Eliot and Georgia O’Keeffe. Archives materials were also made searchable online and associated with “finding aids” written by archivists. The effort began in 2007, when the Archives received grants for the project from both the Getty Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Museums for America program.

When Archives curator Susan J. von Salis joined the Archives staff in 2003, she says, there was no formal archival program. The Archives, which had been located in the basement of the Fogg Museum, consisted of historically significant documents and letters filed in cabinets that were at one point the victims of water damage. “There were lots of important historical materials, but they were not cataloged,” von Salis says. “There was no way to find them.” When researchers made requests with the Archives, von Salis recalls, a staffer would go by her memory of the Archives’ collection to try to find the material the researchers desired.


The Archives holds treasures for art historians or enthusiasts—for example, correspondence by American sculptor Alexander Calder, whose sculpture “The Onion” sits in Harvard Yard, and accounts on the efforts of the “Monuments Men,” who worked to protect and retrieve works of art during and after World War II.

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See Also: Harvard Art Museums Archives Announces Successful Completion of Getty and Institute of Museum and Library Services Grants

The two grants enabled the Archives to catalog approximately 13,800 folders (760 archival boxes) of Art Museums records dating from the institution’s founding in 1895 (as the Fogg Museum) to the present. Archivists created in-depth finding aids, which are now online at Harvard University Library’s Online Archival Search Information System (OASIS),

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Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.