News and Announcements Archive

SLA/SAA Student Groups Tour the Cranbrook Archives

April 2, 2010

By Nikki Elert

The student chapters of the Special Libraries Association and the Society of American Archivists recently held a tour of the Cranbrook Archives, a part of the renowned Cranbrook Educational Community located in Bloomfield Hills. Cranbrook encompasses an art academy, an art museum, and a science center as well as schools for K-12 students. The archives is responsible for preserving and maintaining the documents and objects that trace the history of this community, which was founded in 1904 by philanthropists George and Ellen Booth.

The archives main office is located in the building that was once the studio for the Booths’ son, Henry, an architect. Two other buildings on the campus are used for additional storage. In addition to the documents collected by the archives, which include some 10,000 architectural drawings (among them the work of famed architects Albert Kahn and Eliel Saarinen), an extensive collection of photographic negatives and prints is also maintained. The archives is further responsible for all of the objects housed in every building on the campus as well as other artifacts kept in the archives itself, such as the smock that was worn by a long-time ceramics teacher.

Interim archives director Leslie Edwards and part-time archivist Robbie Terman, along with a team of assistants and volunteers, follow a “more product, less process” approach to the collections in order to make as much available as possible for researchers in the least amount of time. Research needs met by the archives range from more straightforward requests for yearbook photos of former students or the years an instructor served as artist-in-residence to the in-depth documentation necessary for a book or exhibition or for an on-campus renovation project that will restore a building to its original form. Given the Cranbrook Community’s long history of educational and arts successes, the archives has an important role to play in documenting that legacy.