Project Will Preserve Historical Materials at Lick Observatory
Portions of the aging archives of the country's oldest mountaintop research observatory will be preserved through a $75,944 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant will fund microfilming and computer indexing of holdings in the Mary Lea Shane Archives of the Lick Observatory, housed in the University Library at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The grant, with librarian Rita Bottoms as project director, will be used to microfilm the journals, copybooks, and correspondence of early directors, astronomers, and others at the observatory from 1875 to 1937, including founder James Lick and others instrumental in planning and constructing the observatory. The grant also supports the conversion of the archives indexes into computer form, which will then be accessible on the Internet.
The archives, first organized by astronomer Mary Lea Shane in the early 1960s, was transferred from the observatory to the University Library's Special Collections department in 1969. "This material is a rich treasury for students of the history of astronomy," says curator Dorothy Schaumberg. "But many of the materials are over 100 years old and in heavy use by researchers. They are fragile and deteriorating." Once on microfilm, the original material will be stored in a temperature-controlled vault. The archives is open for public use by appointment only. For information call (408) 459-2571.