May 16, 2022

University of Iowa Libraries Receives NEH Grant to Increase Access to World-Renowned Sackner Archive

From the University of Iowa Libraries:

Special Collections and Archives at the University of Iowa Libraries was awarded a prestigious $350,000 grant supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The funding will be used to make the Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry—the largest collection of its kind in the world—more accessible.

The Sackner Archive currently includes more than 75,000 items documenting the international avant-garde movement of artists and writers who combined words and visual elements to create a new category of artwork. The three-year Humanities Collections and Reference Resources program grant will provide resources for Special Collections and Archives such as a full-time staff member and a part-time graduate student to focus on continuing to organize, catalog, describe, and preserve materials.

“The University Libraries is committed to promoting accessibility to our collections in as many ways as possible to foster teaching, research, and engagement,” says John Culshaw, Jack B. King university librarian. “We are grateful to the NEH for this opportunity because despite the availability of some data created by the Sackners, the archive remains largely hidden due to the enormous amount of work needed to make materials available to the public.”

The Sackner family chose the University Libraries as the home for the archive due to its reputation as a center for the study of Dadaism, with its substantial holdings in the International Dada Archive. The Libraries’ world-class conservation program, the UI’s nationally recognized Center for the Book and Iowa Writers’ Workshop, collections in the Stanley Museum of Art, and location in Iowa City (a UNESCO City of Literature) were also factors influencing their decision.

We are thrilled the NEH recognized the importance of continuing to expand the Sackner Archive’s reach and are eager to begin these next stages of work,” says Margaret Gamm, director of Special Collections and Archives. “It’s a privilege for us to be home to this world-renowned archive and stewards for students, researchers, and others to discover and use its unique resources.”

You can learn more about the Sackner Archive, which is not open to the public, here. Students, scholars, and the public can make an appointment to view materials by emailing


About Gary Price

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.