Martha’s Vineyard Museum receives grant to open archives to web

Navigational chart of the south Pacific, early to mid 19th century. — Photo courtesy of Martha's Vineyard Museum

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum has received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant totaling $293,900 that will enable the Museum to make detailed descriptions of its entire archival holdings searchable online. It is the largest grant ever awarded to the Museum, according to a press release.

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) selected the museum to receive a Cataloging Hidden Collections and Archives grant to complete the Museum’s archives project.

The Museum will use the funds to create comprehensive, web-searchable finding aids for its archival collections. When complete, scholarly researchers and members of the general public will be able to discover the rich archival collections held at the Museum, according to an announcement published Thursday.

“The Museum’s archives relate directly to the history of Martha’s Vineyard, but their contents, which document connections between the Island and the rest of the world through trade and maritime industries, also hold interest for researchers worldwide. This Hidden Collections project will complement and build upon the ongoing and essential preservation work that the Museum has undertaken using generous CPA grants from five Vineyard towns.”

The Museum is currently in the process of moving from Edgartown to a new home in Vineyard Haven, the former Marine Hospital, with a commanding view of Lagoon Pond.

“This grant fits perfectly into our strategic plans,” Museum Executive Director David Nathans said. “Access is one of our three key objectives. It is a major driver in our decision to move to new facilities in Vineyard Haven. In addition, this is the Museum’s largest grant in its 90-year history, it’s our first grant from the Council and the Mellon Foundation, and it is also a ringing endorsement from a highly respected source of the great value of our collections as we continue to plan for the future.”

Museum Collection Committee Chair Jim Richardson, Curator Emeritus of Anthropology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, said, “I’m delighted that the public will finally be able to see the full depth and breadth of the Museum’s diverse collections. Everyone at the Museum recognizes our responsibility to provide access to the collections for research and educational purposes while insuring their preservation for future generations. This grant will go a long way towards ensuring this happens.”

Created by CLIR in 2008 and supported by ongoing funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives awards program supports the identification and cataloging of special collections and archives of high scholarly value that are difficult or impossible to locate. Award recipients create Web-accessible records according to standards that enable the federation of their local cataloging entries into larger groups of related records, enabling the broadest possible exposure to the scholarly community.

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning.

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