The Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Digital Suite offers unprecedented access to the Harvard Law School Library’s rich collection of Holmes archival material. Using a new search platform developed by the Library’s Digital Lab, users can now search over 100,000 digitized documents and over 1,000 images from multiple collections from a single access point. A search may also be easily refined using the site’s faceted search functions.
The OWH, Jr. Suite is comprised of five manuscript collections and three image groups. Every attempt was made to digitize as much of each collection as possible. Only a small percentage of material was not digitized, usually due to copyright or condition issues. On rare occasion, the curators decided not to digitize material considered to have minimal research value. The manuscript collections included in the Suite are:
- The John G. Palfrey Collection of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Papers, 1715-1938 [finding aid]
- Mark DeWolfe Howe Research Materials Related to the Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., 1858-1968 [finding aid]
- The Edward J. Holmes Collection of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Materials, 1853-1944 1968 [finding aid]
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Addenda, 1818-1978 [finding aid]
- Letters from Holmes to Lady Castleton Small Manuscript Collection [catalog record]
The key component of the OWH, Jr. Suite is the discovery environment developed by the Digital Lab. Called 3D (Discovery and Delivery of Digital collections), it enables a person to search across collections from one access point. Before this software was developed, a person interested in Holmes would have had to search multiple finding aids in Harvard’s OASIS (Online Archival Search Information System) database for manuscript material, plus Harvard’s VIA (Visual Information Access) database for images. The 3D program is open source and the Harvard Law School Library hopes it will be used by other repositories.
The Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Digital Suite was made possible by the work of many individuals. The Library’s Digital Lab team of Steve Chapman, Andy Silva, Lindsay Dumas and Craig Smith all developed the 3D software, performed quality assurance checks on digitized materials, and produced curatorial tags. Ed Moloy and Margaret Peachy of the Library’s Historical & Special Collections unit provided the finding aids with the additional metadata necessary for 3D’s optimal functionality.