After a highly successful 15-year project to conserve and catalog the
landscape design firm's 139,000 historic plans & drawings collection, the
Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park
Service ( has launched an ambitious effort to increase the
visibility of and the access to these materials, while at the same time
decreasing their handling and, in turn, preserving them for generations to

In 2000, while completing the conservation and cataloging effort, Olmsted
NHS partnered with the National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP) and,
with funding from the National Center for Preservation Technology &
Training (NCPTT), created an online textual database as a comprehensive
research tool to the complete Olmsted body of work. This includes a "Master
List" search for Olmsted projects, as well as an archival search for plans
& drawings, photo albums, correspondence and planting lists, located at
both Olmsted NHS and the Library of Congress. This database, the Olmsted
Research Guide Online (ORGO, available at remains
the comprehensive search tool for Olmsted project-based research.
Additional finding aids for the firm's diverse historical manuscript
collections can be found at the Site's archival collections website at

As technologies have evolved, so have users' demands. Increasingly, as new
media and the digital revolution have required the turn towards electronic
access, Olmsted NHS began developing a digital repository of its images by
creating a vast collection of digitized records that more easily fulfilled
researcher requests. We began by comprehensively digitizing the collection
of historic photo albums, and responding to researcher requests for digital
copies from the plans & drawings collection of oversize materials.

After exploring a number of options and in consultation with local and
national experts, including NPS colleagues in Washington DC, it was decided
to begin with a familiar off-the-shelf product – Flickr – due to its
popularity and ability to serve as a portal to our digital collections for
the general public.  A more robust and NPS-integrated solution is being
investigated utilizing the native database required of all Department of
the Interior units for collections accountability. While the ORGO database
website remains THE comprehensive research tool for the broadest inquiry
into the Olmsted work, this easy-to-use and recognizable product promises
the most accessible means of delivery possible. Our Flickr collections can
be found at

Now, just weeks after the National Park Service celebrated the centennial
of its founding, we are proud to announce that we have uploaded our
100,000th image! This includes the entire historic photograph album
collection (with a small number of exceptions) and a sizable portion of the
oversized plans & drawings collection. We have recently embarked on another
ambitious project to comprehensively digitize the collection of Plans &
Drawings. With the recent allocation of internal NPS project monies from a
nationwide "Recreation Fee" fund and administrative assistance once again
from NAOP, we have engaged a funded two-year Archivist / Digital Project
Manager to shepherd the process. Those monies also support the purchase of
an oversized digital scanner onsite as well as offsite digital photography
of materials too large and/or too fragile to be handled in-house.

Anthony Reed, Archivist
Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site
99 Warren St.
Brookline, Massachusetts   02445
The Olmsted Research Guide Online (ORGO):
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