MOAC California museums working with libraries and archives to increase and enhance access to cultural collections
MOAC REPORT 2003: Table of Contents
  Introduction, Robin Chandler
  Project Manager's Report, Richard Rinehart
  Standards and Best Practices, Guenter Waibel
  Partner Reports
    Bancroft Library, James Eason
    Grunwald Center for Graphic Arts, Layna White
    Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Josh Meehan
    UCR/California Museum of Photography, Steve Thomas

MOAC at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology

The Hearst Museum's contribution to the MOAC project was a set of California ethnographic field photographs taken between 1900 and 1960. We were working with both original and copy negatives which were printed and then digitized as part of the project. Our initial estimate of negatives to be printed was 2150, we printed approximately 2800. The discrepancy is due to a miscalculation of the collection, which in turn is due to cataloguing issues in the museum. We also chose to integrate approximately 650 previously digitized images from an earlier, less complete finding aid. We were able to use the MS Access database developed by the Bancroft Library for data entry. Once we organized the structure of the data (e.g. Collection: California Ethnographic Field Photos; Region: NE CA, NW CA, SW CA, etc; Culture: Pomo, Yurok, Hupa, etc; Negative: local unit ID and associated information), data entry went well. 

MOAC Personnel

Project Assistant: performed data entry, assisted in negative printing, project organization

Museum Photographer: negative printing

Information Systems Manager: database support, technical coordination, project liaison

Deputy Director: financial management

Associate Research Anthropologist: data verification/quality control

Collection Managers/Registrar: tracking of negative/print movement, collection history

Work Study Students: assisted with negative printing and print housing


Data entry was accomplished in conjunction with negative printing. Printing was done in house and prioritized by culture group. After printing, photos were sent to the Digital Imaging Lab at the Bancroft Library for digitization. As they were familiar with the Access database, this process went very well. After digitization, prints and digital derivative files were returned to the museum. Data was then verified by the Research Anthropologist and eventually exported from the database by the Digital Publishing Group at Bancroft and uploaded to the CDL.

Two phases of the project were much more time consuming than expected. Negative printing was accomplished in approximately 2 years, but did not start on schedule and would not have been completed without the no-cost extension. Initially we had planned to out-source the printing, however the Museum Photographer was hired after the grant began and she was called on to print the negatives (along with the Project Assistant and Work Study students). Printing demanded a great deal of time due to the poor condition of many negatives. The other difficulty in meeting deadlines was due to the necessity of data verification. Data entry was performed directly from original museum catalogue ledgers, which in many cases may have been logged 75 or more years ago. There are often discrepancies and incorrect information in these ledgers, however they remain our best source of catalogue data.  Therefore it is necessary to verify this information before it is made public.


The sharing of data between museums in online forums is only beginning and this project as been very helpful in getting us started down that path. We learned a great deal about the process of photo digitization and handling of related catalogue and metadata. Our difficulties with data verification are nothing new, but working through them helps to deal with them in the future. Overall, we are happy with the result of the project.