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Reception for the Grants Program for Digital Collections

Faculty from across the College of Arts and Sciences braved frigid temperatures on Feb. 27 to attend the first reception in support of the Grants Program for Digital Collections.

The program — now in its fifth year —has funded more than 20 incredible projects  Funded by the College of Arts of Sciences and coordinated by Cornell University Library, the Grants Program for Digital Collections in Arts and Sciences aims to support collaborative and creative use of resources through the creation of digital content of enduring value to the Cornell community and scholarship.

Here in the Library, we know that digital collections are powerful. They remove barriers of access to unique, previously unavailable material to aid scholars and students alike in research exploration and the joy of unearthing interdisciplinary connections.

Gretchen Ritter, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, warmly opened the reception at the History of Art Gallery, describing the strong interdisciplinary collaborations that the grants program fosters. And Anne Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian, noted the importance that access to curated digital collections offers to students, researchers and faculty worldwide.

Annetta Alexandridis and Cheryl Finley — both previous grant awardees and History of Art faculty members — presented as well. Dr. Alexandridis, who was awarded a 2010 grant to photograph deconstructed plaster casts from the Cornell Plaster casts collection, noted that access to those digital images has provided her students with investigative research possibilities that have spurred hands-on opportunities to reconstruct plaster casts. Although technically “copies,” many of the casts represent the most authoritative version now available, the original having been destroyed by war or poor environmental conditions.  These materials are frequently on display in the History of Art gallery.

Dr. Finley, whose 2012 grant provided support to digitize images from the Lowentheil Collection of African-American Photographs, described the importance this rare collection has for scholars and students of visual arts everywhere, but particularly students and scholars of African American and American studies.  The kinds of images represented in this collection – including portraits of known and unknown sitters, landscapes of the antebellum and postbellum south, brutal images of racial torture and domination, documents of civil rights protest, portraits of black leaders, writers and intellectuals, and images of everyday African American life – reveal volumes about black life and struggle in uncommonly rare photographs. Having these available in digital form will impact learning and teaching worldwide and across a wide range of disciplines.

Grant applications for this year are due on March 15. For more information, including the grant application proposal, please visit








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