Digitizing the F. Blair Reeves Papers

Jessica Aberle
Architecture and Fine Arts Library, University of Florida

PIN Sign
PIN (Preservation Institute Nantucket), Univ of Florida

In the spring of 2017, Professor Morris Hylton III, the Program Director for Historic Preservation at the University of Florida, approached the George A. Smathers Libraries with a proposal to digitize material related to the Preservation Institute Nantucket(PIN), which will celebrate its fiftieth year in 2022.  PIN was founded in 1972 by F. Blair Reeves, a faculty member in the School of Architecture at the University of Florida, in partnership with Walter Beinecke, Jr.

The F. Blair Reeves Papers in the Architecture Archives include correspondence, grant proposals, course material, and photographs that all document the foundation, history, and culture of the early years of PIN. In order to make this material accessible through digitization, we applied to the Strategic Opportunities Grant Program (SOP), which is internally funded by the Smathers Libraries. Through this program, the team (which included faculty and staff from the Department of Special and Area Studies Collections, Preservation, and Digital Production Services) was able to secure funds to digitize roughly 6,000 pages from the F. Blair Reeves Papers and to document related PIN material held in other collections and sometimes, offices.

Nantucket, Oldest House
Oldest House, Nantucket, 1686

During July of 2017, I traveled to Nantucket (escaping the Florida heat for a few days) to visit the Research Library of the Nantucket Historical Association(NHA) and the PIN Studios. The NHA is one of the official repositories for PIN material which includes the PIN Archives, student reports, and Historic Structure Reports. I took a rough estimate of the materials that had accumulated in the PIN Studio in Sherburne Hall over the years. This material included student reports, exhibit material, posters, program files, working drawings, and the wooden signs that the students created every summer for the PIN studio. I was only able to document the various formats and take a rough estimate of the quantity of material during my brief visit. Full documentation will have to await the transfer of materials to the Architecture Archives at the University of Florida. Whenever the PIN Studio and the Research Library was closed, I took the opportunity to see as much of Nantucket as possible!

Nantucket Old Mill
Old Mill, Nantucket, 1746

In the fall of 2017 Digital Production Services began digitizing the materials selected from F. Blair Reeves Papers. In the end, they scanned 6,315 pages of material and digitized several audio files. The grant also allowed us to fund a graduate student research assistant who documented the materials that had accumulated in the current PIN offices at the University of Florida. Our research assistant worked both fall and spring semesters to organize and document twelve boxes of archival material that were transferred to the Architecture Archives this past spring. He documented the dates, significant people associated with the materials, format, quantity, and a brief description, which will aid in the creation of a finding aid for the collection. I was also able to identify additional collections here at UF that contain PIN material including oral histories and student work.

The project funded by the SOP grant is just now wrapping up. Our priority moving forward is to continue to digitize PIN material locally from some of the newly identified collections.

For those interested in PIN, you can learn about its early history through the F. Blair Reeves Papers. The digitized material is available in the University of Florida Digital Collections: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/pin. We will continue to add material over the next few weeks, so please do check back. If you would like to know more about either PIN or the newly launched Preservation Institute St. Augustine (PISA), information can be found on the website for the Historic Preservation Program in the College of Design, Construction, and Planning at the University of Florida.

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