Grant Project Description

U. S. Department of the Interior: Save America's Treasures

Historic Preservation Fund Grants to Preserve Nationally Significant Intellectual and Cultural Artifacts and Historic Structures and Sites

In 1999, Cornell University Library received a $331,000 grant to catalog, conserve and digitize the published pamphlets in its Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery Collection, one of the nation's founding collections on the abolitionist movement in America. The grant was awarded through the "Save America's Treasures" initiative, a public-private partnership between the White House Millennium Council and National Trust for Historic Preservation, administered by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Save America's Treasures program is dedicated to the preservation of the nation's irreplaceable historic and cultural treasures. It was one of 62 projects funded nationwide in 1999, and one of only two awards made to libraries.

Although the May Anti-Slavery Collection is housed in Cornell Library's rare book and manuscript vault, an environmentally controlled location, it was nonetheless threatened by acidity of the paper and iron gall ink used in some 19th century print runs. Some pamphlets have paper that is porous, indicating poor sizing, and many were stained and soiled through use and the absorption of pollutants over the last century. The grant provided funding for full conservation treatment to restore these items to a useable state for current and future scholars requiring access to the original artifacts.

In addition, the collection has been further protected by the creation of electronic surrogates that have been made broadly and comprehensively available via the World Wide Web. Although the digitized versions can reproduce the essential textual information contained in the original pamphlets, the intrinsic value of these vital cultural artifacts cannot be adequately conveyed in any other fashion. The originals were strengthened to support continued use by scholars and members of the public.

The grant also funded full online cataloging of the entire collection, creating enhanced access to both the original pamphlets and their digital surrogates.


The May Anti-Slaverly Collection is currently being made available using the University of Michigan Digital Library eXtension Service (DLXS). DLXS is an Open-Source solution that provides the foundation and the framework for educational and non-profit institutions to fully develop their digital library collections. DLXS has a comprehensive suite of tools, including a powerful SGML/XML-aware search engine and an array of class-based middleware:

  • Encoded text collections ("Text Class")
  • Digital image collections ("Image Class")
  • Bibliographic data ("Bib Class")
  • EAD2002-encoded finding aids ("Findaid Class")

For more information about DLXS go to the DLXS Home site.

Continue to Grant Project Work Flow