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History of the Collection

History of Acquisitions

The manuscripts-on-microfilm collection was built over several decades. Records show that the photographic services department acquired microfilm as early as 1950. At some point, the holdings became the responsibility of the library.

In the summer of 1990, the family of the late professor Leendert G. Westerink offered his collection of approximately eight hundred microfilms to the Byzantine library at Dumbarton Oaks. As promised to his family, the collection has not been integrated with the miscellaneous collection but stored separately. Microfilms from the Westerink collection have been assigned a special call number beginning with the prefix WEST.

Included within the general microfilm collection are gifts from the late Father George Dennis (thirty-five films donated in 2006) and the family of the late professor Ihor Ševčenko (over two hundred films donated in 2010).

The records for each microfilm include whatever Information is known about its provenance.

History of the Database

Until recently, there existed no finding aid for the microfilm collection. In 2011, the library began a project to catalog the microfilms and to create a database that could be used by researchers.

Coordinating the project was the Byzantine Studies librarian, Deborah Brown, with the assistance of special projects and reference librarian, Sarah Burke Cahalan.

microfilm interns

Vladimir Boskovic (Harvard University, Classics/Modern Greek studies), Saskia Dirkse (Harvard University, Classics), and Roderick Saxey II (Ohio State University, Classics), worked on the project as interns during the summers of 2011 and 2012. Their task included evaluating the physical state of each microfilm, identifying its contents, researching the manuscripts using print and online resources, and recording the information into the FileMaker Pro database. (For more about their experiences as interns, please see Vlad, Saskia, and Roderick's posts on the Dumbarton Oaks Interns blog.)

Publications staff member Michael Sohn created the original FileMaker Pro database and designed the appearance of the manuscript and microfilm content types as they appear on this website.

Publications staff member Prathmesh Mengane was responsible for the creation of the content types and for the importation of data from the FileMaker database to the website.

Library assistants Sarah Mackowski and Katy Van Arsdale assisted with the cleanup of the data import. Publications staff members Noah Mlotek and Lain Wilson entered the bibliography for use on the website.

More information about the database project can be found in the 2010–11 and 2011–12 Annual Reports as well as on the project's blog.