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Grants help Archives bring history to forefront

September 18, 2008

With the Arizona Centennial right around the corner – in 2012 – interest is sure to grow in the history of the 48th state to be admitted to the Union.

Thanks to grants totaling $146,432, ASU Archives is working to make sure that a wide variety of historic materials are easily accessible.

ASU Archives is joining with several collaborators and partners to bring three projects and collections to the forefront: “Expanding Access to Arizona Archives,” “Why Arizona? The Arizona Migration Digital Library,” and “Unlocking the Archives of Children’s Theatre.”

The first, “Expanding Access to Arizona Archives,” enables ASU to invite four new archival repositories to join Arizona Archives Online, an existing partnership with the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University, said University archivist Rob Spindler.

“Arizona Archives Online ( enables access to detailed descriptions of archival collections using national standards for archival description,” said Spindler. “This service makes it possible to search many Arizona archives in one place, and it also exposes high-quality information to Google, just in time to support Centennial research projects.”

The new partner repositories are the Tucson and Phoenix divisions of the Arizona Historical Society, the Arizona Historical Foundation and the Arizona State Archives. Spindler and Michael Lotstein, assistant archivist for records and collections management at ASU, are project co-directors.

The second project, “Why Arizona?” will create a package of stories about why individuals from all walks of life chose to relocate to Arizona throughout the state’s history, even before Territorial dates and statehood.

“’Why Arizona?’ is a digitization planning project that brings together historians, students and a curriculum designer in selecting archival materials,” Spindler said.

“Teams at all three Arizona universities will comb through voluminous archives to explore how religion, labor, ethnic communities and tourism motivated individuals to make Arizona their home. Indigenous communities will be invited to share their origination stories.

“The project will deliver a detailed database of materials eligible for digitization and recommendations for how these archival sources can be packaged and delivered for use by teachers.”

Spindler and Karen Underhill of Northern Arizona University are the co-directors and they will seek endorsement of the work as an Arizona Centennial Legacy Project.

“Unlocking the Archives of Children’s Theatre” is a project to create and make available basic descriptions of 68 archives documenting theater troupes, playwrights, set designers, costume designers and actors who create and perform professional theatre for children.

ASU’s Child Drama Collection is the world’s largest archive documenting the international history of theater for youth. Curator Katherine Krzys is the project director.

“Expanding Access” and “Why Arizona?” are supported with funds from the Arizona State Library Archives and Public Records Agency under the Library Services and Technology Act, which is administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

“Unlocking the Archives of Children’s Theatre” is supported by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.