Contact: Guy Lamolinara, Library of Congress (202) 707-9217; Kitty Borah, Shell Oil Company (713) 241-4544

November 16, 1998

Shell Oil Foundation Donates $500,000 To Put historic American Engineering Record On-Line

The Shell Oil Foundation is donating $500,000 for completion of the digitization of the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), which documents America's historic industrial, engineering and transportation heritage and is one of the largest and most heavily used collections in the Library. The materials will be available from the American Memory Collections of the Library of Congress at

"The Library is grateful to the Shell Oil Foundation for its generous gift," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "The Historic American Engineering Record has been preserved by the Library for nearly 30 years and used by researchers who have come here from across the country. Now, through Shell's gift and the power of the Internet, Americans everywhere will be able to take advantage of the richness of this important collection of our nation's built history."

HAER was formed in 1969 to complement the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), a New Deal Works Progress Administration agency chartered in 1933 to document historic architecture of national or regional significance. Recognizing the fragility and unique nature of the nation's industrial and engineering heritage, the National Park Service, the Library of Congress and the American Society of Civil Engineers established HAER. A short while later, HAER was endorsed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers.

"We are pleased to make this valuable resource available and accessible to the public," said J.N. Doherty, Senior Vice President, Shell Oil Company Foundation. "The history and information in the Historic American Engineering Record collection will be an asset to the engineering profession and to students throughout the country, and will have a long-term educational impact."

HAER conducts surveys and provides detailed documentation of America's historic industrial, engineering and transportation resources as well as the working and living conditions of the people associated with them. These records and those of its companion HABS collection were transferred to the Library for public service and preservation.

Currently, more than 9,000 photographs, 260 architectural drawings and 80,000 pages of written history are on-line in the HABS/HAER collection. Also available are the catalog records for the survey that contain approximately 183,000 photographs, 52,000 drawings and 115,000 pages of history, which will continue to be digitized over the years.

HABS and HAER are operated as cooperative ventures between the public and private sectors. The U.S. Department of the Interior administers the surveys and creates documentary records. From the beginning, the American Institute of Architects and the American Society of Civil Engineers have provided professional counsel, financial aid and other services to support these programs.

The Library of Congress is the world's largest library and provides materials to researchers worldwide. It also promotes reading and literacy and provides materials to a blind and physically handicapped readership of more than 780,000. The Library will celebrate its Bicentennial in the year 2000. Its popular Web site ( features the American Memory Collections, which are bringing the institution's most important historical collections to citizens everywhere through the Internet.

Shell Oil Company is one of America's leading oil and natural gas producers, manufacturers, transporters and marketers of oil and chemical products. It is a recognized pioneer in technology for oil and gas exploration. Headquartered in Houston, Shell Oil is an affiliate of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies.

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PR 98-185
ISSN 0731-3527

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