The University Library’s Special Collections and Archives department recently received a $96,328 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), which is dedicated to the preservation of the United States’ documentary heritage.

Katie Richardson, Special Collections and Archives head, said the department applied for the grant envisioning an 18-month archival project that would allow the library to process 600 linear feet of archival materials into 53 archival collections.

She said she realized the department had a vast collection of documents waiting to be archived three years ago, when she started working at the library.

“I realized that we had a large backlog of unprocessed archival collections,” Richardson said.

Her goal was to then process those archival collections to make them readily available online or in person to Cal Poly Pomona students, researchers and to anyone else interested in using the materials.

Katie Richardson and Robert Strauss analyze document collections from the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library. (Natali Perez | The Poly Post)

Special Collections and Archives has four main collecting strengths that they’re most known for: the Southern California Wine and Wine Industry Collection that documents the history of that wine industry; the Pomona Valley Historical Collection, which documents the history of the Pomona region; the University Archives, which document the history of Cal Poly Pomona; and the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library, which documents the history of the Arabian horse and the Arabian horse industry.

Richardson said the grant is important as it will enable staff to process several archives that fall within these categories.

Part of the grant was used to hire Robert Strauss, a project archivist, who started in October of last year.

“I process collections from all four areas of our collecting areas,” he said.  Strauss has processed collections such as the Thomas Pinney papers that include wine labels from the wine collection, the John T. Lyle papers, the Hilda Solis papers and many more.

This project began in October 2017 and is scheduled to be finished by March 2019.

“As far as the number of collections, we have processed about 35 of the 53 collections since the beginning of the project,” Strauss said.

An antique edition of Farm and Orchard Magazine, archived at Special Collections and Archives. (Natali Perez | The Poly Post)

There is also an internship available to all majors that allows students to learn what Richardson and Strauss do as professionals on a regular basis. This internship would cover preserving materials through processing collections, creating finding aids, transcribing oral history, exhibition work, installation writing and much more.

Other funds from this grant were used to hire student assistants, to buy acid-free materials to help preservation efforts, to house and organize finished collections and for public programming to promote materials and showcase them.

Part of the public programming will be shown at the department’s next event, which will take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2. The Equine History Conference will showcase researchers and scholars from around the world. The event will also give Special Collections and Archives the opportunity to show off materials from the Arabian Horse Library as well as other archival materials.

Completed collections can be found online at the Online Archive of California. More collections and finding aids will continue to be added as the project continues.

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