August 14, 2015
With the help of a Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Oriental Institute has begun to make its incredible collection of Museum Archives material available to the public for the first time in its 100 year history. The Oriental Institute Museum Archives contains invaluable field expedition records, scholarly papers, and institutional history. Among the archives are records from many archaeological expeditions, such as those to the famous sites of Persepolis, Megiddo, and Khorsabad. As many archaeological sites face a variety of threats, these records are more important than ever before. Papers from major scholars in the fields of ancient Near East studies contain a treasure trove of untapped scholarship, including the papers of James Henry Breasted, Wilhelm Spiegelberg, George Hughes, and A. Leo Oppenheim. The history of the Oriental Institute itself is also documented in these files, including correspondence, staff records, and publication manuscripts. The cataloging of the Museum Archives has only just begun, but already users can search, sort, and display over 7,000 records and attached media (such as digitized photographs, negatives, and documents). Records in the catalog are integrated into a hierarchy (Collection > Series > Box > Folder > Item) so that users can browse through levels at their discretion. Collection level records have a finding aid attached in PDF form (following EAD standards). The Museum Archives records are fully integrated with the other records in the Search Our Collections website. Users can easily navigate between Museum Archives records and their associated bibliography from records in the Research Archives catalog, or from digitized negatives in the Photo Archives catalog to the Museum Archives record for the physical negatives. Scholars will find a growing wealth of data from which new understandings of the ancient Near East are sure to emerge.