Barbara Haws Brown Bag

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On October 9, 2015, UM-SAA hosted Barbara Haws, Archivist and Historian of the New York Philharmonic, for a brown bag lunch in collaboration with Professor Paul Conway and the UM School of Music. Haws has accompanied the New York Philharmonic orchestra to Ann Arbor for their performances here during the month of October. During her talk, she discussed the ambitious digitization project which she and he colleagues have undertaken. The project’s goal is to digitize all materials within the Philharmonic’s archives, the first stage of which is now complete and available for access and research on their website (


Haws explained the process leading up the digitization, including deciding which materials to start with, incorporating existing metadata and databases, and acquiring funding. She emphasized the importance of identifying your archive’s goals and audience before processing with such a project, as well as the necessity of preserving context and relationships that exists within the physical collection. The approach they have taken at the New York Philharmonic archives has been a comprehensive one. Instead of deciding which materials are most valuable to their patrons, they decided to digitize everything. So far, that has included 1.3 million pages in three years. The first phase of the project digitized materials from 1943 to approximately 1970, as their patrons emphasized this was the least represented period of New York Philharmonic history that was important to make available first. The next phase of the project will be to digitize pre-1943 materials in the collection. Haws mentioned additional considerations, such as copyright and institutional restrictions, that need to be made in the future regarding incorporation audiovisual and born-digital materials into the digital archive.

View our storify of the event here!


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