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The first system of on-line cataloging at Harvard was called HULPR, with the public version known as HOLLIS. When this system began, the manuscript community at Harvard did not contribute records. In 1985-1986, Harvard University received a NHPRC grant that sponsored a team of people to create MARC-AMC records for manuscript collections held by the various manuscript repositories at Harvard. These records were put into both RLIN and HULPR. As one of the participating repositories, Houghton had records created for many, but not all of its collections. Rodney Dennis, the curator of manuscripts, selected which collections were to have records, and which were not. The content standard for creating the records for the NHPRC project was based on APPM: Steven Hensen, comp., Archives, Personal Papers, and Manuscripts, (Chicago: Society of American Archivists. 1983). 

In the 1990s, the Houghton Manuscript Department staff began to create their own records for newly cataloged materials, using the former project specs as a broad guide to continue to input MARC collection-level records into both RLIN and HULPR. Throughout the 1990s, the staff  streamlined these specifications, updating constantly as MARC developed, and combining Houghton historic descriptive practice where necessary. One of the MARC changes that produced a major difference for the US manuscript community came during “format integration” when archivists could, for the first time, pick the form of the MARC template most appropriate for cataloging based on the primary “type” of material  being cataloged. Prior to format integration, all our MARC records were in the AMC-MARC format (which is now referred to as the “mixed format”).  

Between 2001-2006, the Manuscript Department conducted a complete retrospective conversion of all Houghton finding aids, which entailed updating or creating new MARC records for collections previously left-out or insufficiently described during the 1985 NHPRC project. At the close of this project, we had MARC records and finding aids for 100% of Houghton’s processed collections. However, it should be mentioned that during this project, the Harvard Theater Collection (HTC) paper cataloging records were NOT fully converted into online records. Only some of the HTC’s finding aids were converted, and many collections were still unprocessed and without collection level MARC records.

Other noteworthy dates in Houghton manuscript cataloging are:

      2002 July, Harvard converted its cataloging system from HULPR to Aleph, leaving  the public version still called HOLLIS.  

      2004, DACS: Describing Archives: A Content Standard (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2004) replaced APPM as the US archival content standard.

      2005 spring, RLIN converted to the RLIN21 system, with the public version known as Eureka.    

      2005 September, Manuscript Department was reorganized to form a unit within the Department of Technical Services, called the Manuscript Section. 

      2006-2007, the RLIN21 system was merged with OCLC

      2007 January, Manuscript Section at Houghton stopped cataloging directly into RLIN; Harvard's RLIN records were completely moved into the new OCLC

      2013-2014, Another review/updating of the collection-level manual was completed with incorporation of a revised DACS.

      2018 summer, Harvard Library moved from Aleph to Alma, a web-based ILS, local manuals were updated accordingly.

Houghton also inputs single-item manuscript MARC records into Alma/HOLLIS, and guidelines for creating those type of MARC records can be found in: Single-item Manuscript Cataloging Manual, Dept. of Technical Services, Manuscript Section, Houghton Library, 2013. A retrospective cataloging project was completed regarding the single items held at Houghton (NOTE: some classes will remain undescribed due to language specialty limitations of our staff. These will be addressed as language specialists are available). In 2017, a retrospective cataloging project was completed for the Harvard Theatre Collection single-item manuscripts. Over 250 records were added to the catalog. 

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