Catching the Wave: Photographs of the Women’s Movement by Bettye Lane and Freda Leinwand

Project Summary

Submitted by Joanne Donovan of Schlesinger Library.

Among the treasures in the Schlesinger Library are photograph collections that document the women’s liberation movement of the late 1960s and 1970s: images by Bettye Lane and Freda Leinwand, both of whom spent years capturing the moments, both big and small, that made up one of the most transformative times in U.S. history. While the Schlesinger began collecting these photographs in 1979, their families, upon the death of the photographers, donated the bulk of their collections just recently. Of the 40,000 images total, including prints, negatives and slides, we propose digitizing a portion of the core images from each collection that focus on the women’s movement (an estimated 4,000 images). Both collections came with donor-supplied metadata. Ideally, we would like to repurpose the descriptive metadata and use the new batch capabilities of Shared Shelf to create cataloging records for both collections. Once the catalog records have been created, we would select images to digitize. This proposal would mean working with Imaging Services on the development of the batch ingest into Shared Shelf and on the digitization and deposit of the files. In addition to making the images available in VIA, we are considering a partnership with the CURIOsity team on a web-based service to deliver these images in a dynamic and curated way, should that service become available within the grant timeframe and have both a timeline and geotagging feature included. We would love to be able to "uncover" these wonderful images for researcher use.

Amount requested is $35,000-$40,000.

Expected Results with Partial Funding

Funding for digitization would get us a long way towards making these materials available however we would still need to find funding to help with the cataloging to make them discoverable.

Estimated Follow-on Activities and/or Costs

The following costs will be met through an increase in the appropriate local budget allocations: DRS storage costs, $625/year for CURIOsity hosting

Benefit to Harvard Scholars and Patrons

We get quite a lot of inquiries from both students and scholars for images that document the second wave of feminism. It is often difficult to access these images due to copyright constraints, however both families have given us permission to digitize and make the images available. It will be an invaluable online resource.

Ways the Project Supports Cross-Unit or Cross-Discipline Activities

A great benefit of this project would be establishing a workflow for batch ingest of records into Shared Shelf utilizing a tool that was created for one repository and making it accessible to all repositories interested in image cataloging at Harvard.

These images document not only a time in history, but also social causes, city streets, urban living, economic conditions, the changing role of women in civic life, etc.

Resources the Sponsoring Library Can Support or Will Need Support For

Staff time to oversee project, catalog images, select images for digitization and curate online presentation tool, approximately 100 hours. Ongoing storage and delivery costs.

Other Approaches to Achieving Goal or Result

Individual record creation in Shared Shelf, resulting in a multi-year project for just these two collections, a workflow that would add to a backlog of other photograph collections needing attention.

Risks If Proposal Is Not Approved

Without the batch ingest tool in Shared Shelf, it would potentially take years to achieve these same results.

These important images will remain hidden and the causes that these women fought for and captured will not easily be shared with Harvard and the wider community.

Additional Information

This project would make a great contribution to the scholarly community as well as providing a historical reference point for current social movements. Boston University recently held a conference on women’s liberation and there was a great turnout, showing the current interest in the past, as well as the future, of issues related to women’s rights.

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