Monday, December 19, 2011

History San José Receives Funding for its Hidden Collection and Archives


San Jose, CA – December 15, 2011
History San José learned today that it has received a 2011 Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives award from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) through funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“This is a very prestigious organization that has recognized one of the many culturally significant collections at History San José ,” said Jim Reed, Curator of Library and Archives at the Collection Center of History San José. “These funds will underwrite the important task of cataloging thousands of significant documents and ephemera relevant to the evolution of Silicon Valley.”

Among the hidden collections seldom seen by the public are five significant  groups of records from  the Perham Collection of Early Electronics. This material is the legacy of Douglas M. Perham (pronounced PURR’ uhm) (1887-1967), an early electronics experimenter and wireless radio pioneer. Paralleling Perham’s career, the collection preserves rare materials from some of the earliest commercial work in electronics in the U.S. and an incubating Silicon Valley from the 1890s to 1960. The Collection augments existing History San José collections, documenting the evolution of Silicon Valley’s electronics industry and the intersection of technology and society in this region.

Volunteers have cataloged some 2,500 Perham artifacts and 1,200 photographs, as well as hundreds of rare books and trade manuals. Received largely unprocessed in 2003, the Perham manuscript and ephemera collections, however, require professional arrangement and description.

This project will focus on five manuscript collections: the papers of radio and motion picture pioneer Lee de Forest, which comprise the largest known collection documenting this award-winning, contentious inventor; research notes and correspondence of Jane Morgan, author of Electronics in the West, a treasure trove of information on early electronics pioneers; electrical engineer Harold Elliott’s papers and drawings which augment rare materials from Federal Telegraph Company (Palo Alto, San Francisco); and Perham’s Historical Files, an all-inclusive collection of ephemera, notes, manuscripts and other items on an array of people, companies and events.

Criteria for this grant includes the potential for national impact on scholarship and teaching, as well as innovative and efficient approaches that maximize the accessibility for scholars and community members.

The announcement by the CLIR, along with History San José, includes such prestigious and diverse recipients as the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey The New York Archival Society, Center for Jewish History, Mennonite Heritage Center among many others. More detail on this year's funded projects can be found at

Other previous recipients from the Bay Area include the University and Jepson Herbaria at the University of California, Berkeley in 2008, the California Historical Society in 2008, the California Digital Library in Oakland in 2009, and the Stanford University Libraries in 2009.

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