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Collections in RLG Cultural Materials

RLG Cultural Materials had more than 100 wide-ranging collections from 35 contributing institutions. Some highlights:


Linda Hall Library: Star Atlases—A collection of more than 300 star atlases with constellation maps, including Johann Bayer's Uranometria (1603); Atlas Céleste (1776), a French edition of John Flamsteed's Atlas Coelestis; and Kornelius Reissig's Presentation of Constellations in 30 Tables. These atlases present examples of works from the "golden age" of the celestial atlas.

Netherlands Economic History Archive (NEH), International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam: Red-Haired Barbarians, the Dutch in Japanese Prints, 1800-1865—The Dutch were the first Westerners allowed to stay and trade in Japan, subject to very strict regulations. This collection of 40 Japanese woodblock prints published between 1800 and 1865 depicts Dutch traders in their allotted settlement in Nagasaki harbor. Now extremely rare, the prints were sold as souvenirs to Japanese who hoped to catch a glimpse of these strange "red-haired barbarians." A Russian envoy who visited Nagasaki in 1804 in a failed attempt to obtain trading rights was also portrayed, while other prints show Russians, Americans, French, and English who in 1858 were finally allowed to stay in Yokohama.

University of Toronto: The Discovery and Early Development of Insulin—This collection documents the initial period of the discovery and development of insulin, 1920-1925, by presenting over 7,000 page images reproducing original documents ranging from laboratory notebooks and charts, correspondence, writings, and published papers to photographs, awards, clippings, scrapbooks, printed ephemera, and artifacts.

University of Cambridge: Papers from the Macclesfield and Portsmouth Collections: Manuscripts of Isaac Newton and His Associates—The University of Cambridge holds a large proportion of the original scientific manuscripts written by Isaac Newton, and more than 200 folios in Latin and English have been digitized in this first contribution. Cambridge has held a number of items since Newton deposited them himself, to fulfill the condition that copies of the lectures by the holder of the Lucasian chair should be given to the University. Towards the end of the 19th century the fifth Earl of Portsmouth gave the University and Library his collection of Newton's papers, which had passed down in that family for several generations. (They had come into the family's possession through John Conduit and his wife Catharine Barton, Newton's niece; their daughter married the son of the first Earl of Portsmouth, Viscount Lymington, and Lymington's eldest son became the second Earl of Portsmouth.) At the end of the 20th century, the Earl of Macclesfield made a presentation to the Library of more of Newton's manuscripts—together with a large number of other scientific papers collected by the Earls of Macclesfield in the 18th century.

University of Pennsylvania: The Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection in the History of Chemistry: Images of Scientists, Laboratories, and Apparatus—Selections from the collection, which is devoted to the history of chemistry, particularly before 1850. The collection includes items on chemistry, alchemy, early medicine and pharmacology, dyeing, metallurgy, mineralogy, and pyrotechnics, chemists, the chemicalindustry, and chemical education.


University of Oxford: Art of Ferdinand Bauer: Selections from the Flora Graeca, Fauna Graeca and Mediterranean Scenes—Sibthorp and Smith's "Flora Graeca," illustrated by Ferdinand Bauer, is considered the most splendid and expensive Flora ever produced. This selection of 131 images is drawn from the complete printed "Flora Graeca," from the 966 original watercolors, from the unpublished "Fauna Graeca" (293 watercolors), and from 131 "Mediterranean Scenes." It shows the range of Bauer's artistry and the extraordinary level of detail he succeeded in capturing.

University of Glasgow: Science in Scotland—Based on the extensive scientific instrument collection at the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow, the records illustrate the work and lives of many famous Scottish Scientists including Lord Kelvin. This material is of great interest to a wide cross-section of the scholarly community seeking information on the innovations in science developed in Scotland, and their wider impact on the world of science, engineering, and technology.

Keio University: Keio Historical Photograph Collection—More than 1,500 photographs documenting buildings, events, and people associated with Keio University from the mid-19th through the 20th century, including portraits of founder Fukuzawa Yukichi, the effects of the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake on the university, and related subjects such as architectural details, gardens, ceremonies, sports events, and other campus activities. Keio has contributed the first collection in the database that takes advantage of RLG's Unicode support for original-language scripts.

University of California, Berkeley: 19th-Century California Sheet Music—A virtual library of some 2,000 pieces of sheet music published in California between 1842 and 1900, together with related materials that include an 1872 publisher's catalog, programs, songsheets, advertisements, and photographs.

Brigham Young University: William Henry Jackson Photographs and Art Work—This collection of approximately 1,000 items includes photographic prints, cabinet cards, and stereoscopic views taken and printed by Jackson, as well as original oil and watercolor paintings, and sketches. There are also publicity shots of Jackson and prints acquired for his personal collection.

Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens: The History of Astronomical Observation—Includes items chosen from the Mt. Wilson collection, the papers of Edwin Hubble, and the Huntington's rare book collections. These materials document the history of astronomical observation, from the early pre-telescopic work of Tycho Brahe in the 16th century, through Galileo, Johann Bayer, and Johann Doppelmayer, to the 19th- and 20th-century work of Edwin Hubble, George Ellery Hale, and the Mt. Wilson Observatory.

National Gallery of Canada: Canadian Souvenir Albums—A collection of more than 50 Canadian souvenir view albums, published from the 1880s through the 1940s, consisting of some 1,700 digitized pages. With antecedents in the travel narratives, topographical views, and guidebooks that recorded and illustrated the early periods of European exploration and settlement of the country, souvenir view albums—with their distinctive formats, a proliferation of photomechanically reproduced images, and little or no text—are peculiar to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These publications are of great interest to the historian of Canadian art, architecture, urban development, and photography.

National Library of Australia: Maps from the National Library of Australia—A collection of 2,501 maps depicting the world, the Pacific and Australia from the 16th to the 19th centuries, with an emphasis on tracing the development of exploration.

University of Chicago: The First American West: The Ohio River Valley 1750-1820—A collection of original historical material documenting the land, peoples, exploration, and transformation of the trans-Appalachian West from the mid-18th to the early 19th century. Among the sources included are books, periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, scientific publications, broadsides, letters, journals, legal documents, ledgers, and other financial records, maps, physical artifacts, and pictorial images.

University of Southern California: WPA Land Use Survey Maps for the City of Los Angeles, 1933-1939—The Works Progress Administration conducted a land use survey from December 18, 1933 to May 8, 1939 for the city of Los Angeles, Department of City Planning. It resulted in this series of 345 hand-colored land use survey maps collected in ten books (averaging 35 maps per book), each corresponding to a geographic region within the city's boundary.

University of Toronto: Anatomia: Anatomical Plates from the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library—This collection features approximately 4,500 full-page plates and other significant illustrations of human anatomy selected from the Hannah collection in the history of medicine at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto. Each illustration has been fully indexed using medical subject headings (MeSH). The plates can also be searched or browsed by artist, engraver, lithographer, and printer. There are 92 individual titles represented, ranging in date from 1522 to 1867.

RLG Cultural Materials' the newest contributor: University of Florida. Many works in the database are complex objects (such as the books in Florida's first contributions). Additions since the beginning of the year:

Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens: The Museum Bookstore Map Collection—1,652 maps printed in England and Western Europe ca. 1600-1890. The majority of maps date from the 18th century and depict the whole or part of North America.

University of California, Berkeley: Abner Doble Steam Motor Corporation—Includes correspondence, reports, patents, drawings, notebooks and photographs relating to Abner Doble's engineering career and documents his role in the development of twentieth-century steam technology. Also included are records of Doble's final project in the early 1950s for the Paxton Engineering Division of McCulloch Motors Corporation, Los Angeles, to develop the Paxton Phoenix, a steam car fitted with the Doble Ultimax engine.

University of California, Berkeley: Zelda Mackay Collection of Stereographic Views—Contains 733 mounted stereographic prints produced from circa 1860 to circa 1900. The general subject matter of the collection is the North American West from Alaska to Mexico (excluding Canada) and Colorado to California. Included among the many California locations are San Francisco, Yosemite Valley, and Los Angeles, as well as various areas along the lines of the Central Pacific Railroad. The collection features the work of several notable photographers, including Carleton E. Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, Charles R. Savage, Thomas Houseworth, William Henry Jackson, Edward and Henry T. Anthony, Edward and Benjamin West Kilburn, Charles Bierstadt, John J. Reilly, and Isaiah W. Taber.

University of Florida: The Eric Eustace Williams Collection, Selections—Both a bibliography and a growing library of works by and about Dr. Williams, the first Prime Minister of the Trinidad and Tobago and often called the "Father of the Nation." The works provide the researcher with the raw materials to study how Williams married his academic and political pursuits and how the character of the man fostered independence throughout the Caribbean.

University of Florida: Psychological Study of the Arts—This collection of books explores literary questions using psychology, often psychoanalytic. Illustrated works address such questions as, Why does this writer write the way he or she does? Why do different people read differently—as they do? How can we understand this character or genre psychologically? The collection deals with the processes of perception, memory, word recognition, cognitive development, metaphor, and personal identity in both the creation and reading of literature.


American Antiquarian Society: William Allen Collection—Advertisements received by British-born American manufacturer William Allen for manufacturing equipment from the 1840s to 1906.

*Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute: David A. Hanson Collection of the History of Photomechanical Reproduction—Spans the history of photomechanical printing from the first heliographic etching in 1826 through the perfection of three-color printing at the beginning of the 20th century. This collection of 350 works focuses on all aspects of photographic images produced in printer's ink.

*New York Academy of Medicine: The William H. Helfand Collection of Pharmaceutical Trade Cards—274 works comprising trade cards produced in the US and France between 1875 and 1895.

*Smithsonian Institution: Scientific Identity: Portraits from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology—More than 1,000 portraits of scientists and inventors from the 16th through the 20th centuries.

Temple University: Tyler War Posters—A collection of more than 1,400 World War I and World War II posters documenting propaganda efforts, mostly by the United States and Great Britain, to educate and enlist public support for war efforts.

University of California, Berkeley: Selections from the Henry J. Kaiser Pictorial Collection—Subject-based collections showing the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond, California during World War II. These include building materials, including steel, cement, aluminum, and gypsum; engineering projects all over the world; and building affordable housing and consumer goods—such as Kaiser-Frazer cars, Willys Jeeps, and even dishwashers.

University of California, Berkeley: Paget-Fredericks (Joseph Rous) Dance Collection, ca. 1913-1945—Original drawings, paintings, photographs and pieces of memorabilia. Includes: Isadora Duncan and other dancers; decor and costume designs; illustrations, graphic design, drawings, paintings, juvenilia; printed pictures and clippings, and photographic prints.

University of Chicago: American Environmental Photographs, 1891-1936—An overview of important representative natural landscapes across the nation, which includes some 4,500 photographs taken at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Produced by a group of American botanists generally regarded as one of the most influential in the development of modern ecological studies.

*Conversion funded by a History of Science and Technology grant



After surveying faculty at several institutions, the Cultural Material Alliance's Instructional Technology Advisory Group has released its findings. [Link to "/en/page.php?Page_ID=406"] Out of the Database, Into the Classroom summarizes how faculty find and use digital images in their teaching. The report will be used to shape the future development of RLG Cultural Materials.

The Cultural Material Alliance's Description Advisory Group has issued new [link to "/en/page.php?Page_ID=214"] Descriptive Metadata Guidelines for RLG Cultural Materials, a complete revision from the September 2003 document. Designed to help contributors to the RLG Cultural Materials database, a broad audience can also benefit from its clear overview of the daunting concepts and acronyms in the field of descriptive metadata.

Index Stock Imagery announced its distribution plans for images to all types of commercial and creative clients. Their agreement with RLG would allow specified types of commercial and consumer uses of items from collections that contributors have identified for these uses. As items are licensed, RLG will share revenue with the contributor.


Twenty-six people from RLG member institutions attended the RLG Cultural Materials Forum on January 11, 2004, in conjunction with ALA in San Diego. The focus of this forum was "reaching new audiences," including:

—a review of the work of our Instructional Technology Advisory Group, which has been investigating how digital objects can be transferred from RLG Cultural Materials into software systems used in teaching—putting valuable materials and tool kits into the hands of instructors.

—an update on a new use of the RLG Cultural Materials aggregated content—an "individual service" being developed. This new service will reach additional audiences on the open Web, enable licensed uses of the content, and return revenue to contributors.

The first activity of the Instructional Technology advisory group was to develop an interview script. RLG staff has interviewed 10 faculty at three universities. The discussion focused on the findings to date. Institutions have so many resources, publicizing new ones is difficult. Faculty learn to use a couple different resources and then stick to them. RLG staff was encouraged to communicate directly with faculty, rather than only communicating with library staff.

There were questions about whether the interview results varied based on the state of adoption of courseware such as WebCT, MDID, or Blackboard—or the level of support offered to faculty. Another area of interest was the NISO work to standardize searching across resources. While that effort is largely geared toward citations, perhaps VRA, Getty, the OAI community, and other stakeholders could be involved to broaden the scope to include images and other content, so that we don't develop stand-alone silos of Luna Insight content, RLG content, ARTstor content, etc. Faculty want one-stop shopping. Every time they are confronted with a new interface, it is an additional barrier to potentially useful information.

As regards exporting, the importance of remaining neutral was emphasized. We need to be able to export to many applications and many institutions use home-grown systems; CSV and XML exports should accommodate all. When asked about the preferred format for delivering high-resolution images, there was a resounding DON'T give them TIFFs! Everyone agreed that faculty still don't trust their connectivity and prefer to have everything they need for a presentation on their own computers.

The presentation on the individual service gave an overview of the new effort, devised to meet member goals: reaching new audiences, expanding awareness of their institutions and their special collections, and exploring new sources of revenue. The new service will consist of a lesser version of the Cultural Materials content (simple keyword searching of brief text records linked to watermarked, lower-resolution images). Higher quality versions will be available for licensed use. The content will also be made available directly from image stockhouses for editorial and commercial use. The licensing revenue will be shared with the contributor.

The stockhouses believe that the licensing interest will come primarily from the editorial sector (textbooks and magazines in particular), but that the highest license fees would come from the advertising companies, though interest in our historical content is likely to be much lower there. There was some discussion about the relationship between this activity and reproduction services at the institutions. The stockhouses will only be offering digital images, so any requests for photo-reproductions could be served by the institution. Some members want RLG to take as much as possible of the reproduction and licensing burden from them.

Others have a healthy service they expect to continue. It is believed that most of the interest that the individual service will bring will be new business, not compete with existing business. Most of the big publishing houses go directly to the stockhouses for all their needs. Those that already have direct relationships with an institution can continue to work in that way.

Articles about use in the classroom

Please note: Archived versions of RLG Focus are available from the OCLC Corporate Library Collection in the OCLC Digital Archive. Choose the preferred index and browse from here.

  • "Highlights in the History of Science and Technology in RLG Cultural Materials"
    RLG Focus
    75 (August 2005)
  • "Investigating Pictorialism in RLG Cultural Materials"
    RLG Focus 72 (February 2005)
  • "Exploring the Early History of Photography Using RLG’s Eureka® and Digital Resources"
    RLG Focus
    67 (April 2004)
  • "Out of the Database, into the Classroom: Findings from the Instructional Technology Advisory Group"
    RLG Focus 67 (April 2004)
  • "RLG Forms Advisory Group for Instructional Technology"
    RLG Focus 63 (August 2003)
  • "A Richer View: The Added Value of Cross-Institutional Searching in RLG Cultural Materials"
    RLG Focus 59 (December 2002)
  • "Discover the Riches within RLG Cultural Materials"
    RLG Focus 54 (February 2002)
  • "Scenes from a Database: RLG Cultural Materials in Use"
    RLG Focus 53 (December 2001)

Articles featuring particular collections

Please note: Archived versions of RLG Focus are available from the OCLC Corporate Library Collection in the OCLC Digital Archive. Choose the preferred index and browse from here.

  • "Red-Haired Barbarians Invade RLG Cultural Materials"
    RLG Focus 77 (December 2005)
  • "RLG Cultural Materials Comes Alive with the Sound of Sheet Music"
    RLG Focus 73 (April 2005)
  • "Keio Contributes its Historical Photograph Collection to RLG Cultural Materials"
    RLG Focus 71 (December 2004)
  • "A Brief History of the Korzenik Collection of Art Education Books and Ephemera, Accessible through RLG Cultural Materials"
    RLG Focus 64 (October 2003)
  • "RLG Cultural Materials Provides First Online Access to Margaret Mead Papers at the Library of Congress"
    RLG Focus 62 (June 2003)
  • "Rare Book Collections Enhance Content of RLG Cultural Materials"
    RLG Focus 57 (August 2002)

Articles about service developments

Please note: Archived versions of RLG Focus are available from the OCLC Corporate Library Collection in the OCLC Digital Archive. Choose the preferred index and browse from here.

  • "Cultural Materials Alliance Description Advisory Group Completes New Descriptive Metadata Guidelines for RLG Cultural Materials"
    RLG Focus 72 (February 2005)
  • "RLG Cultural Materials Alliance—Building a Cultural Resource Together" (pdf)
    SCONUL Focus 32 (Summer/Autumn 2004)
  • "Librarians' Promotional Toolkits Debut"
    RLG Focus 70 (October 2004)
  • "™ Debuts!"
    RLG Focus 69 (August 2004)
  • "RLG Implements METS Viewer for Complex Digital Objects in RLG Cultural Materials"
    RLG Focus 60 (February 2003)
  • "Touring the Information Landscape: Designing the RLG Cultural Materials Data Model"
    RLG Focus 58 (October 2002)
  • "Grants Help Target Content for RLG Cultural Materials"
    RLG Focus 56 (June 2002)
  • "Goals for Cultural Materials in the University of Edinburgh"
    RLG Focus 55 (April 2002)
  • "Creating New Knowledge through RLG Cultural Materials"
    (RLG annual meeting presentation 2002)

    Please note: Web pages for RLG meetings prior to June 2006 have been archived and are available from the OCLC Corporate Library Collection in the OCLC Digital Archive.

Archived versions of RLG News are available from here.

  • "Expanding Access, Setting Standards"
    RLG News 54 (Spring 2002)
  • "RLG Cultural Materials Service Coming Together" (pdf)
    RLG News No. 52, Spring 2001