Monthly Archives: May 2024

SCARC Rare Book Collections in HathiTrust

HathiTrust is a partnership of major research institutions and libraries that digitally preserve and make accessible the cultural records in their care. As a member of the HathiTrust, OSU Libraries has access to millions of digitized titles through its robust searching platform. Catalog records in OSU’s library catalog (1Search) link to HathiTrust editions, allowing quick access to digitized titles in the public domain.

In recent years the platform introduced the Collections feature, which enables users to build their own purpose-built collections of titles. Featured collections on the HathiTrust main webpage include the Edison Collection of American Sheet Music, New to the Public Domain in 2024, and Women Composers. Even better, Collections allow for full-text searching within the collection, enabling powerful discovery and deeper engagement with rare materials.

In Summer 2023, we embarked on a project to create a HathiTrust collection for all public domain titles in SCARC rare book collections: Special Collections at Oregon State University. A full-text searchable database of our rare book collection enhances research and teaching in multiple ways. One class use example can be seen through GEO 511 History of Geography. This graduate class visits SCARC each year to learn about the impact and influence of Alexander von Humboldt on geography and science. During the visit, we build valuable observation and interpretation skills by examining SCARC materials in several categories to trace von Humboldt’s life and legacy. To build searching and research skills, we also walk through demonstrations of 1Search and other relevant databases. Materials for this class have been limited, up to now, to cataloged materials by and about von Humboldt, as well as contemporary journal articles, maps, and prints.

A search in 1Search for the name “von Humboldt”, limited to SCARC, yields just these ten titles. A search for “von Humbolt” in the HathiTrust full text collection reveals a much larger and broader set of results, with captivating contemporaneous details that show the true impact of his life and the broad range of his scientific contributions.

The earliest mention of him in these results is in a “domestic encyclopedia” from 1804, referencing his earliest scientific work on galvanic force and mushrooms. The great mineralogist Robert Jameson references von Humboldt in 1816, on the nature of obsidian, in a book that would become standard throughout much of the century. Citations of von Humboldt’s expansive and varied contributions continue throughout the century. They range from his work on physical geography and plant geography, South American indigenous languages, observations on animals, astronomical observations, and more. By 1821 Swiss botanist de Candolle was bestowing “immortal honor” upon von Humboldt for his numerous botanical discoveries and the resulting impact on scientific botany. In 1831, his powers of observation are celebrated in an appendix to the Narrative of a voyage to the Pacific and Beering’s Strait, though with some mild annoyance by the author: “even the Baron Von Humboldt, to whose acute observation science is indebted for so many discoveries respecting the New World, appears not have noticed, with his usual care, the peculiarities of its bees.”

Over 3400 SCARC titles published between 1700-1860 are now available in the full text HathiTrust Collection. The collection does not yet include all available SCARC holdings within that date span; work will be ongoing to add all items in SCARC’s rare book collections published before 1928 and digitized in HathiTrust. Some multi-volume periodicals are still be added, as are items from 1861-1928.

A note on searching: searching for a keyword in the collection will take you to a page of results; to find exact matches, search the keyword again in the “Search in this Text” box in the left side bar. Note too that OSU Libraries has access to many, many more digitized titles in HathiTrust, accessible through 1Search; this collection is limited to physical items in SCARC, which can be physically accessed in our reading room on the 5th floor of Valley Library.

We welcome you to use the HathiTrust full-text collection for SCARC to enhance your historical research! (Have you found some cool stuff in your searching of the collection? Let us know of your research uses of it by emailing us at scarc [at]

Thanks to aman agah, Ph.D. student in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, who began the work of populating the collection in Summer 2023; see also aman’s reflection on this work.

Music in the Reading Room! Albina Community Archive Open House

Albina Community Archive, May 2024 Event at OSU

On May 23rd SCARC was delighted to host the archivists of the Albina Community Archive for an amazing musical experience! Earlier this year Dr. Kelly Bosworth, Horning Assistant Professor, Public History & Ethnomusicology, proposed the idea and SCARC worked with her to organize the event — we set up a record player in the reading room, projectors in the exhibit space, and a welcome + merchandise table in the lobby area.

About the Albina Music Trust:

Albina Music Trust is the only full-service community archive in the United States, dedicated to the restoration of a Black community’s historic musical culture. Our programs amplify the legacy of Albina’s musician community through archival media preservation, events and exhibitions, a record label, a radio program, oral history publications, and a sound walk. In collaboration with community members, we are the stewards of a digital repository documenting Albina’s arts and culture legacy, the Albina Community Archive.”

About the Event:

We hosted a pre-public event for Dr. Bosworth’s music history students to engage in a conversation with the Albina Community Archive archivists and then hosted an open house for the public to join in the fun! Participants selected records to play on the record player, explored the online archive via large projectors, and as a connection to SCARC materials, attendees also had the opportunity to view content from the Urban League of Portland Records, specifically the Albina neighborhood materials, as well as materials from the Obo Addy Legacy Project.

Event Photos:

Albina Music Trust Welcome Table
Albina Music Trust Materials
A Conversation with the Albina Music Trust Archivists
The SCARC Reading Room ~ it was filled with records and the music sounded great!
The SCARC Exhibit Gallery ~ there were two projectors for attendees to browse the online archive
Attendees Checking Out the SCARC Materials
Dr. Kelly Bosworth Swapping Records ~ The record player and records were donated to the OSU LBH Black Cultural Center