Revealing the Public School Reports Collection: Pilot Project - New England States and Municipalities

Project Summary

Submitted by Edward Copenhagen of Gutman Library.

Gutman Library possesses a collection of public school reports published in the United States by state and local government agencies. These materials comprise over 10,000 titles documenting public education in the United States from the early 1830s through the early 1950s. It includes comprehensive sets of annual reports of state and municipal boards of education from 48 states and thousands of cities and towns. These records often include detailed narrative reports on schools and school districts; statistical and financial information, courses of study and lists of authorized textbooks. The collection also includes a scattering of directories, rules and regulations, curricula and other publications from various state and municipal educational departments.

Though classified in the Widener EducR classification, these materials are not discoverable in HOLLIS. These materials are described only in antiquated shelf-lists. Consequently, most researchers access this collection through shelf-browsing supervised by Library staff. Gutman Library maintains a webpage that describes the collection as a whole but many people discover it via word of mouth.

Revealing the Public School Reports Collection: Pilot Project - New England States and Municipalities.

Gutman Library proposes a pilot project to catalog the holdings of the six New England states (approximately 2000 titles). This would expose the collections to researchers using HOLLIS and WorldCat as discovery tools. The materials would be rehoused in pamphlet folders and acid-free boxes as warranted.

Amount requested is $65,000-$85,000 (salary plus benefits) to support a one-year temporary, full-time professional cataloger.

Expected Results with Partial Funding

A part-time, professional cataloger could catalog the Massachusetts portion of the collection, representing about 57% of the New England holdings. These resources are particularly important to scholars researching local history.

Estimated Follow-on Activities and/or Costs

The pilot project will establish the necessary parameters for subsequent cataloging of the titles outside of New England. Future costs associated with completing the cataloging will be projected based on metrics associated with the pilot project.

Benefit to Harvard Scholars and Patrons

Once discoverable in HOLLIS, researchers at Harvard will be able to locate primary source materials essential for researching the history of public education in New England, from the creation of the earliest common schools in the 1830s through the mid twentieth century. Exposing this collection will also benefit a community of scholars from outside of Harvard. The Public School Reports Collection is a unique, comprehensive national resource that has gathered materials documenting education on the local and state-level that usually can only be found in state and municipal collecting archival repositories.

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

This project will greatly enhance access to the materials found in the collection and allow scholars from numerous disciplines to make use of them for their research. Scholars of the history of education and US history are the primary audiences who will benefit. These resources can impact scholarship in numerous social sciences and humanities disciplines, including the history of the book, childhood studies, government, public health, economics, demographics, urban studies, gender studies, and race relations.

Resources the Sponsoring Library Can Support or Will Need Support For

Gutman Library will provide a workstation, computer and workspace for the project cataloger. Preservation supplies needed to rehouse the materials will also be provided. Staff time to manage and oversee the project, as well as additional cataloging support, will be provided by the Gutman Library staff.

Other Approaches to Achieving Goal or Result

Other grant funding would have to be sought to bring in the appropriate cataloging support required to carry out this project. As a pilot project, the information acquired would lend itself to obtaining future funding for the remaining content not included in the pilot. Without funding to employ a dedicated cataloger, the cataloging of these materials into HOLLIS will proceed in a significantly slower fashion dependent on the limited availability of the special collections librarian to work on the cataloging backlog.

Risks if Proposal Is Not Approved

The risk associated with not moving this project forward are primarily shouldered by those who might benefit from utilizing this information and are not able to identify its availability here at Harvard. Those at greatest risk are cross-disciplinary researchers located outside of the Graduate School of Education who may not know to investigate the unique holdings of the Gutman Library Special Collections to identify hidden materials.

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