Friday, March 14, 2008

CSHL Digital Collections

The Digital Collection Project (http://archives.cshl.edu) at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library & Archives (CSHL Library)contains selected materials from the CSHL Library archival collections.

What is so special about the CSHL Library archival collections that justifies their digitization? For more than 100 years CSHL has been a pivotal place for biological discovery, especially in genetics. For instance, at the Cold Spring Harbor Symposium in 1951, Barbara McClintock described "controlling elements" for which she was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983. It was in another Cold Spring Harbor Symposium that James Watson described publicly the structure of DNA. The collections that were partially digitized include the James D. Watson Collection, Hermann J. Muller Collection, Barbara McClintock Collection, and the Meetings and Courses Photographic and Video Collection. There personal and business letters written by these famous scientists, photographs and even scanned laboratory notebooks. It is a rich collection for the historian of science or even a student who would like to enrich her studies through access to these materials. There are group photographs from most Cold Spring Harbor courses and meetings. I was able to find my picture from the 1991 X-ray Crystallography course I took.

The 'About the Project' page has detailed information about the project which would be of interest to others attempting to digitize a similar collection.

Although the collection is very rich, I found the interface a bit clunky. The search results are displayed as full records, without thumbnail pictures or other helpful scanning tools when the number of search results are high.

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