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Harvard Materials Showcased in Cambridge-Wide Archives Tour

Harvard University Archives, Graduate School of Design and Property Information Resource Center participate in Cambridge’s Fifth Annual Open Archives Tour.


July 9, 2013—The Cambridge Archives Project hosted its “Fifth Annual Archives Crawl” June 17 through 21, which included the Harvard University Archives, the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), the Cambridge Public Works Department, the Cambridge Freemasons Lodge and Christ Church. This year’s theme was “Spaces: Sacred & Profane.” The Harvard University Archives has been a stop on the tour for the last three years, and this year the Graduate School of Design’s Special Collections and the Property Information Resource Center (PIRC) also participated.

“This is a great event because it invites members of the general public—not just researchers and scholars—to see what we have in our collection,” said Virginia Hunt, associate university archivist for collection development and acting associate university archivist for records management. Hunt worked this year with the Cambridge Archives Project—whose members include representatives from the Cambridge Historical Society, the Cambridge Public Library and the Cambridge Historical Commission—to coordinate Harvard’s section of the tour.

“The Harvard Archives have many materials relating to Cambridge and American history,” Hunt said. Examples of items showcased from the University Archives this year included a plan for Massachusetts Hall from 1718, a spike from the Massachusetts Hall roof that was repurposed as a gift to a donor and then donated back to the Library and a poster for a Hasty Pudding Club play in Hollis Hall presented by members of the class of 1858.

“We even have a poster from a group of Harvard graduate students and squatters that set up camp in the former Lawrence Hall in 1970 before it burned down,” Hunt said. “The poster is of historical significance because it advertises what was probably one of the first open LGBT dances at Harvard or in the area. We thought that was cool.”

Sylvia Welsh, archivist and librarian for the PIRC, and Ines Zalduendo, special collections archivist and reference librarian for the Harvard GSD, were also principal contributors, and staff members from all three locations were involved in selecting and preparing materials. Items showcased from the collections at PIRC included original drawings of the Widener Library façade signed by Eleanor Elkins Widener and intricate drawings of the chandelier in Memorial Hall.

Items from the GSD Special Collections included an architectural drawing of Kenzo Tange’s St. Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo, a special limited edition by Lars Müller of Peter Eisenman’s Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and a series of sketches by Spanish architect and GSD Dean Josep Lluís Sert of his own house on Francis Avenue in Cambridge.

“The sketches were interpreted as examples of one of two ‘sacred spaces’ of the architectural process: when an idea is translated into a drawing, and when a drawing is actually built enabling color and texture to come together to materialize that idea,” Zalduendo said.