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News from the Archives

Fall term at the University is under full steam as we approach the end of the calendar year, classes are winding down, exams are ramping up, students are conducting research, and grant/conference proposals are due! CBI staff have been busy wrapping up processing efforts for three major collections, teaching class sessions with HSTM faculty and new staff in the College of Liberal Arts, submitting conference proposals, and presenting a talk about the Control Data Corporation’s Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives at the University of Minnesota Archives and Special Collections “First Fridays” lecture series.

Research in Focus
Since last published, materials within the CBI archives have been utilized by more than 80 people. Topics of interest include women in computing, academic computing, magnetic drum storage units, information privacy, cryptography, and the history of computing in Minnesota.

Collections that our visitors have been accessing include the Alias | Wavefront Records (CBI 255), James W. Cortada Papers (CBI 185), SHARE, Inc. Records (CBI 21), National Bureau of Standards Computing Literature Collection (CBI 32), Control Data Corporation Records (CBI 80), the Burroughs Corporation Records (CBI 90), Engineering Research Associates (ERA)-Remington Rand-Sperry Rand Records (CBI 176), Calvin Mooers Papers (CBI 81), Rick Smith Papers (CBI 251), Willis Ware Papers (CBI 40), and Donn B. Parker Papers (CBI 166). A number of our published works have also been accessed after being located through the University of Minnesota catalog.

New Materials Available to Researchers
Last winter and spring saw the elimination of a significant chunk of the collection processing backlog. Since our last reporting, an additional three major collections have been processed by staff members:

  1. The Stephen J. Lukasik Papers (CBI 254):  Mr. Lukasik, former Director of ARPA, donated his papers and personal library in March 2016.
  2. The Eric Weiss Papers (CBI 265): The papers of Eric Weiss came in late 2016 and processing was funded via a generation donation from the Weiss estate.
  3. The Computer Image Corporation Records (CBI 256):  Marilou Harrison donated the corporate records of the Computer Image Corporation, founded by her late husband Lee Harrison III, in fall 2016.

Over the Transom
A number of exciting new collections have come in this fall. Included are the corporate records of Dicomed, local Minnesota computer graphics pioneer, and additional accruals to the Abraham Franck Papers (part of the Engineering Research Associates (ERA)-Remington Rand-Sperry Rand Records (CBI 176)), and a number of new publications from donors Thomas Misa and Peter Freeman. All print materials are in the process of being integrated into the University of Minnesota catalog. A tantalizing addition to our body of materials related to Charles Babbage was also made via a transfer of microfilm from George Washington University and includes a large corpus of correspondence. The microfilm will be processed this winter.

Incoming Acquisition:  Jean Sammet papers
Over the last few months, I have been working closely with the executor of the Jean Sammet estate (Mt. Holyoke College) to manage a major collection transfer from Washington DC to the University of Minnesota. This final transfer of records will complete a deposition process that goes back almost 30 years.

In the mid 1980s, CBI staff began working with Jean Sammet to detail an extensive plan to donate her considerable collection of personal papers and professional records. In 1990, the Deed of Gift was signed by Jean, a representative from Jean’s former employer (IBM), and CBI/University of Minnesota staff to authorize the donation in 13 parts. Over the next year, 12 of the 13 portions of the collection were donated with extensive restrictions regarding processing and accessibility. This year, the final installment will begin its travels from two storage units in Silver Spring, MD to Minneapolis.

The records within the collection comprise Jean’s IBM working files (she apparently walked out of IBM with all of her work AND the company’s blessing – which shouldn’t surprise anyone who knew her!), personal copies of ACM records, working files for COBOL, ADA, and FORTRAN programming language development, voluminous correspondence with other luminaries, author files, and personal and biographical files.

A generous donation from Jean Sammet’s estate will fund the collection transfer and initial processing efforts. Altogether, this remarkable collection will total more than 400 linear feet of materials. We will seek additional funding resources to ensure efficient processing of the collection and welcome donations to support our efforts. This is truly a one of a kind collection that will be an incredible resource to the field. We look forward to sharing it in the coming months.

Amanda Wick
Interim CBI Archivist and Curator

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