Digital Collections

Projects in Progress

A selection of HCL projects currently underway

Ethnographic Portraits: Photographs from Tozzer Library


Late Chief Mipiganina (Zulu), Zululand, Natal, South Africa. Alfred Martin Duggan-Cronin, photographer. Photographs of Indigenous Peoples of Southern Africa. Tozzer Library. AMDC.13 / AFR.SOUTH D 879 s.


A project is underway to digitize historical and rare ethnographic portraits of peoples from throughout the world. Tozzer library houses albums and portfolios of photographs of both named and unnamed people, arranged in individual and group portraits, often taken or collected by anthropologists eager to document changing and “disappearing” cultures, and “racial and ethnic types.” Photographers and collectors include ethnographers, scientists, explorers, physicians as well as professional photographers. Some of their names are Prince Roland Bonaparte, A.M. Duggan-Cronin, Jacques-Philippe Potteau, Carl W. Dammann, Carolyn Haskins Gurrey, William Henry Blackmore, William Henry Jackson, Solon I. Bailey, Thomas Barber, Ferdinand V. Hayden, Julius Falkenstein, and Louis Agassiz. The earliest photographs to be digitized as part of this project date from ca. 1850 to 1879. Albums and portfolios selected for this project will be digitized in their entirety, and over 1,000 photographic portraits will be cataloged individually for access in VIA.

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Hedda Morrison's Negatives


Signing ceremony in China marking Japan's surrender at the end of World War II. Hedda Morrison, photographer. Hedda Morrison Photograph Collection, Harvard-Yenching Library. HMn08639.


A project has commenced to preserve and digitize fragile negatives taken by famed photographer Hedda Hammer Morrison in China during her residence there from 1933 through 1946 and held in the collection of the Harvard-Yenching Library. This project continues an earlier phase of the program to digitize Morrison’s working albums of some 5,000 photographic prints. The original project was funded by the Library Digital Initiative and completed in 2001. A digitized sample of the approximately 5,000 negatives never printed by Morrison revealed previously unknown images of Chiang Kai-shek and Madam Chiang; the ceremony marking Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II; and of the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin in Jehol, the summer home of China’s last imperial family in Manchuria. The archive also includes negatives taken during Morrison’s subsequent trips to China in 1979, 1982, and 1987, and her visits to Japan. Once digitized and catalogued, the entire Morrison archive, comprising some 10,000 images, will be available to scholars around the world. This project is being assisted by Dr. Claire Roberts, currently a Harvard-Yenching Institute Co-ordinate Research Program Scholar, working with Dr. Raymond Lum, Librarian for Western Languages in the Harvard-Yenching Library. View Hedda Morrison’s negatives digitized to date.

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Digitization of Poster Collections from Widener Library

Photograph Photograph

Poster from the James Howard Fraser collection.

Poster from the Thomas Hill collection, Widener Library.


Posters from the Thomas Hill Collection and the James Howard Fraser Collection of Widener Library are being digitized as part of an ongoing effort to provide access to these large and difficult to serve materials. Imaging Services has developed a workflow to create brief catalog records in OLIVIA / VIA based on existing descriptive data, and to create digital reference images. As of February 2011, over 5,200 posters from these collections are available in VIA. The posters span a wide variety of subjects and periods, but two areas of strengths emerge: posters from the German Democratic Republic (1949-1990), documenting the history of the former Soviet occupation zone and East German state from the aftermath of WWII through the first democratic elections following German Reunification, and 3,000 posters from AIDS prevention campaigns from around the world, displaying a wide variety of culturally determined responses and recording the progression and growing acceptance of the pandemic. Thumbnail images of the posters are available without restriction. The large reference images are restricted to the Harvard Community.

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Chinese Rare Books


An item from the Harvard-Yenching Chinese rare book collection which will be digitized as part of the landmark project.


In cooperation with the National Library of China, the Harvard-Yenching Library is undertaking a project to digitize its entire 51,500-volume rare book collection. The six-year project will be done in two three-year phases. The first phase, beginning in January 2010, will digitize books from the Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties, which date from about 960 AD to 1644. The second phase, starting in January 2013, will digitize books from the Qing Dynasty, which date from 1644 until 1795. The digitized books will be freely available to scholars around the world.

See Harvard, National Library of China Embark on Digitization Project in the HCL News section.

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