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Project Made Possible by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)

February 25, 2009

LOS ANGELES—The Getty Research Institute (GRI) announces the launch of Uncovering Archives and Rare Photographs: Two Models for Creating Accession-level Finding Aids Using Archivists’ Toolkit, a cataloging project that will allow scholars across disciplines to access GRI archives and rare photographs previously out of reach.

The project aims to improve access to seven archives that document the intersection of art and language in the 20th-century, and 34 collections and albums of rare 19th- and early 20th-century photographs in three subject areas: Asia and Orientalism, Cities and Sites, and Expositions and World Fairs.  It will create catalog records and finding aids for a diverse range of materials including letters, manuscripts, artists' books, audio and video recordings, drawings, printed ephemera, slides, stereographs, and 26,000 rare 19th- and early 20th-century photographic prints.

Susan M. Allen, the GRI’s Associate Director and Chief Librarian, says, “We are delighted to embark on this cataloging project, which will improve access to these archival collections and rare photographs that are of critical import to the scholarly community.”

Web-based access to these special collections will trigger activities including workshops and seminars, exhibitions and publications and the digitizing of the collections, both within the Getty and in the larger international community.  “The project will allow us to prioritize these collections for comprehensive digitization, which, in turn, will encourage more interdisciplinary research,” says David Farneth, the GRI’s Head of Special Collections and Institutional Records.

At the project’s conclusion, the Getty Research Institute will host a workshop to share its findings with Los Angeles-based archivists. The workshop will also provide a forum for debate about the effectiveness of this approach to expose hidden collections. “The project offers a unique opportunity to educate and train staff in the latest processing techniques,” adds Andra Darlington, project supervisor. “Our new models emphasize broad access rather than deep access, allowing us to share little-known collections as well as high-demand collections, and to foster collaborative projects with repositories that hold related materials.”

The project was made possible by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), which administers a national program to identify and catalog hidden special collections and archives.

For more information on the Getty Research Institute’s Special Collections, visit:

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Beth Brett
Getty Communications

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