AAVSO: American Association of Variable Star Observers

The Project PHaEDRA Collection: An Anchor to Connect Modern Science with Historical Data (Abstract)

Volume 47 number 2 (2019)

Peggy Wargelin
Wolbach Library, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138


(Abstract only) Project PHaEDRA (Preserving Harvard’s Early Data and Research in Astronomy) is an initiative by the Wolbach Library, in collaboration with many partners, to catalog, digitize, transcribe, and enrich the metadata of over 2,500 logbooks and notebooks produced by the Harvard Computers and early Harvard astronomers. Our goal is to ensure that this remarkable set of items, created by a remarkable group of people, is as accessible and useful as possible. We are working with the Smithsonian Transcription Center to transcribe the PHaEDRA collection. The transcription markup will allow the collection to be full-text searchable on the NASA Astrophysics Data System, and for the notebooks to eventually be linked to their original source material: 500,000 glass plate photographs representing the first ever picture of the visible universe. These glass plate photos are currently being digitized through a project called DASCH: Digital Access to a Sky Century at Harvard. DASCH will enable scientists to produce full photometry results for the entire sky from over 100 years of observations. This will allow researchers in Time Domain Astrophysics to better understand how the Universe is evolving. Physical conservation of the Project PHaEDRA collection is being generously supported by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.