Sandra Roff, Baruch College 2016-01-19 17:59:10
One of the challenges that college and university archivists face is ensuring that their collections are used by those who can benefit from them. This is a difficult task when students and less seasoned researchers feel that Googling a topic will reveal everything that is available, thus overlooking important archival collections. At Baruch College of the City University of New York, we didn’t want those in the field of public administration to simply stumble across our exciting new Institute of Public Administration Collection and the Luther Gulick Papers, so we actively promoted the collection throughout the long process of its preparation. Gulick’s Ongoing Legacy The collection includes documents, reports, and memorabilia related to the Institute of Public Administration (IPA), founded in 1906 as the Bureau of Municipal Research (BMR) with the motto, “An Adventure in Democracy.” In response to municipal corruption, a group of advocates founded a new science of honest and accountable local government, which quickly spread across the country. Support came from such luminaries as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and W. Averell Harriman, enabling BMR to open a training school for public servants, as well as sponsor investigative studies to expose corruption. The guiding visionary behind BMR was Luther Gulick (1892-1993), who counseled generations of mayors, governors, and presidents on economic recovery, social policy, wartime mobilization, and reconstruction. During WWII, Gulick helped prepare the nation not only for victory, but also for postwar peace, prosperity, and urban modernization. In 2007, more than seven hundred boxes of Gulick's personal papers, government files, and unpublished records and reports from BMR/IPA were deeded to Baruch College. The impressive collection includes historic maps, Czarist police manuals, WWII aerial bombing photos of Japan, and letters signed by Albert Einstein, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Through generous grants from Carnegie Corporation of New York, we are digitizing these materials to expand access for researchers and scholars. Using a Variety of Media to Get the Message Out In the first stage of the project, we began a blog called “An Adventure in Democracy” (www.blogs.baruch.cuny.edu/ipaprocessing/) to document the process of moving the collection from storage to the archives, discovering historical materials in dire need of preservation treatment, and exploring unexpected treasures in the cartons, such as a “key” to Atlantic City dated 1943, snow removal policies at the beginning of The twentieth century, and a housing crisis for WWII workers in war plants and shipyards. We promoted the blog in the scholarly community, starting a conversation and sparking interest from researchers in Public Administration around the world. Another major form of outreach is publishing articles in widely read newspapers. The Baruch College Archives is fortunate to have Ralph Blumenthal as a distinguished lecturer in our division. Blumenthal was a reporter for The New York Times for forty-five years, and he is a master at relating archival documents to contemporary issues. His articles on the collection have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Baltimore Sun, generating more interest in the archive. We also looked at where we could announce the collection at professional association meetings. In our case, NASPAA (Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration) was holding its annual conference in Brooklyn at the same time we were planning the opening of the archives. We worked with our School of Public Affairs to produce brochures, leaflets, and promotional t-shirts for distribution at the conference. Feedback from the conference was encouraging and we had several inquiries following the meeting. Not to be neglected is the visual appeal of an exhibit. We have prepared showcases on the floor where the archives are housed in the William and Anita Newman Library, hoping that highlights from the collection will entice students and faculty to visit the archive and stimulate students to use the archives for class projects. These outreach methods are just a sampling of how Baruch College Archives has promoted the wide scholarly appeal of our new collection. Already, Public Administration faculty have encouraged the use of the collection among undergraduate and graduate students and incorporated archival research into their curriculum.
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