Project PHaEDRA

Preserving Harvard’s Early Data and Research in Astronomy

Project PhaEDRA is an initiative I started at Wolbach Library in 2017 with funding from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee and the Harvard Library Digitization Review Committee. The goal of Project PHaEDRA is to catalog, digitize, transcribe, and enrich the metadata of over 2,500 workbooks produced by Harvard’s Women Computers and other early astronomers. To do this, my team is working with the Smithsonian Transcription Center and the public to transcribe and markup the PHaEDRA collection. These crowdsourced transcriptions ensure that the collection is full-text searchable on the NASA Astrophysics Data System, and will eventually help us link the digitized notebooks to their source material: over 500,000 astronomical glass plate photographs at the Harvard College Observatory. These photographs are being digitized through a program called DASCH, which will allow scientists to use century-old photometry data from glass plates in modern research. My goal is to make this archival research data accessible through the contemporary astronomy literature.