Over the past two years, a team at the MIT Museum has been working diligently to digitize the entire Haffenreffer-Herreshoff Collection. The goal was to create over 33,000 images by capturing every plan and related document, and share the first major American marine design collection online. Evelyn Ansel, Hayley Hinsberger, and Anna Britton worked with Hart Nautical Collections Curator Kurt Hasselbalch and his Curatorial Associate Rachael Robinson to see the project through.

This all began two decades ago when Kurt Hasselbalch secured funding from the Haffenreffer Family Foundation and Joel White (MIT Class of 1954) to catalog and microfilm the extensive Haffenreffer-Herreshoff Collection. It took Hasselbalch and several part-time assistants two years to finish. A paper guide to the collection was published in 1997.

Having completed a more modest digitization effort with two smaller collections, Hasselbalch had the experience to scale up. He had conceived of a comprehensive effort that he called the “Herreshoff Legacy Project” that had two goals: a major exhibition and the digitization of the entire collection. Having helped hundreds of researchers during more than three decades at the MIT Museum, Hasselbalch was confident that he could find the support.

With several early gifts in hand, the digitization effort began in earnest in 2016. This groundbreaking effort for the Museum enabled new features in the exhibition Lighter, Stronger, Faster: The Herreshoff Legacy and provided a catalyst for a new online portal to explore not just the Herreshoff materials but all of the Museum’s growing digital collections.

Major Support provided by:

Contributing Support provided by Ulf B. Heide (’60) and Elizabeth Heide, The Britton Fund, in memory of Charles S. Britton II, Founder Tartan Marine Corporation, and Anonymous.

Additional Support provided by The Gregory Foundation Trust, Anonymous, and the Council for the Arts at MIT.

Above image courtesy of Alison Langley.