The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a $724,814 grant to be used by 13 organizations, including Brigham Young University, in microfilming brittle or badly deteriorated archival collections.
The Research Libraries Group (RLG), manager of the grant, has organized the Archive Preservation Microfilming Project to turn 1,100 linear feet of materials into an estimated two million frames of microfilm during the next three years."Preservation problems facing archival and manuscript material are enormous and all the more compelling because of the uniqueness of these collections," said Katherine Morton, chair of RLG's Archives, Manuscripts and Special Collections Committee.
Documents scheduled for filming at BYU include the Cecil B. DeMille Collection, the Walter Mason Camp Papers, the Reed Smoot Collection and the Newel K. Whitney Papers.
The DeMille Collection consists of 1,400 boxes of material involving the late movie producer and his studio. The Smoot Collection includes 124 boxes of the former Utah senator's personal documents. Walter Mason Camp was an amateur historian who spent 35 years documenting the Indian wars of North America's plains, 1860-1890. The Whitney Collection documents the early years of the Church.
"The project will make the material more available to historians and other researchers," said Randy Silverman, a conservator of rare books at BYU. "The Whitney Collection, for example, will be on file as a master negative. Copies will be distributed. Researchers won't need to handle the original material."