Published January 27, 2017
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA – The University of California, Riverside, has been awarded a $376,191 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant, “Digitizing Special Collections and Archives,” by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will support the project “The Sherman Indian Museum Digital Collection: Increasing Access to American Indian Off-Reservation Boarding School Archives.”
“It’s going to benefit people all over to be able to access these materials, and it will also to protect them so we won’t be using originals as research access,” said Cliff Trafzer, who holds the Rupert Costo Endowed Chair in American Indian Studies at UCR.
The project is in collaboration with the Sherman Indian Museum. The museum is part of what is now called the Sherman Indian High School in Riverside. In 1902, the federal government through the Office of Indian Affairs (Office of Indian Education) established Sherman Institute, an off-reservation American Indian boarding school aimed at assimilating Native American children by eradicating their culture and training them to become laborers and domestics. In 1970, Sherman Institute became Sherman Indian High School, an off-reservation federal Indian boarding school devoted to honoring native cultures while preparing American Indian teens for college and careers.
“Former Native American students of Sherman and their families will have easy access to documents and photographs, school newspapers and annuals. Native American people and families will be able to learn more about the lives of their loved ones. This will provide contemporary American Indians and scholars with images and voices of past generations of students, faculty, and staff at Sherman,” Trafzer said.
The proposal to digitize the collections at the museum was one of 17 selected from 144 applications for the grant. Trafzer and Eric Milenkiewicz, the manuscripts curator for Special Collections and University Archives at the UCR Library, are the principal investigators of the grant.
“It’s really about safeguarding these materials – this community treasure for future generations,” Milenkiewicz said. “We are hoping that this project will inspire community support and other individuals who want to step in, to carry this torch into the future, after this grant has been completed.”
The purpose of the CLIR grant program is to digitize and provide access to collections of rare or unique content in cultural heritage institutions. It aims to enhance the emerging global digital research environment and to ensure that the full wealth of resources held by memory institutions becomes integrated online.
The award will be officially dispersed in June. Until then, UCR will work to process the entire collection at the Sherman Indian Museum. Almost all of its material, including a collection of photographs, student records, yearbooks, etc., is original. The holdings at Sherman Indian Museum also include the only documents that still exist on Perris Indian School, which operated from 1892 until 1902, when the students moved to Sherman Institute. The collection will be brought to UCR, so it can be prepared for digitization. UCR will act as a steward for the digital collection while online access will be made available through the Calisphere website.
CLIR is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning.
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