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History of Genomics Archive

A new digital archive that holds a wealth of materials from the early stages of the Human Genome Project and provides a unique and detailed look into how the field has developed in the decades following.

Provenance of Materials

The NHGRI History of Genomics Archive is composed of the papers and materials of former leadership staff of NHGRI, previously known as the National Center for Human Genome Research. The vast majority of the digital materials we host come to us from NHGRI staff, some of whom have retired or moved onto different career paths. As one of the key leaders of the United States efforts in the publicly funded Human Genome Project (1990-2003), our collections include a wealth of materials from the early history of the Human Genome Project provides a unique and detailed look into how the field has developed in the decades following the HGP. 

The collections available for viewing via this ArchivesSpace resource represent only a very small fraction of our total holdings. We will continue to make more digital materials available as we are able. Importantly, if users do not see certain materials on this site it is not necessarily the case that those materials do not exist or are not in our possession. We encourage users to contact us by email, NHGRIHistory@nih.gov or directly through the ArchivesSpace site with any questions or requests.

Descriptions of Materials

NHGRI History of Genomics Program staff are committed to describing materials in a culturally respective manner and repairing descriptions in finding aids and catalog records if they contain inappropriate language.

Some documents in our collections may contain inaccurate, outdated, harmful and/or offensive language, such as sexist, racist, homophobic, ableist and dehumanizing language. In such cases, the language has been intentionally preserved to accurately reflect the context of creation and to avoid censoring historical records. The language does not reflect the values and practices of NHGRI or the History of Genomics Program.

Conventions and language change over time, and we recognize that in some instances, descriptions and languages in our collections should be corrected. We welcome you to contact us at NHGRIhistory@nih.gov for any concerns about harmful language in our collections.

Digital Access

Although we aim to captured and preserve digitally all the physical items which come into our possession within this archive, we are only able to make a small portion of those items publicly viewable in our ArchivesSpace site as “Digital Objects”.  Items within this archive may contain highly sensitive information about grant funding processes, as well as potential patient information and personally identifiable information (PII). The items available digitally through via this site have been carefully vetted or redacted so as to avoid any potential issues. Users interested in accessing materials described within this site but not digitally viewable can request access to items described by clicking here and providing the required information. We reserve the ability to grant access to any materials not already available.

Important Information for Legacy Users of Archive

For legacy users of our preexisting Sharepoint archival database, whom already have an existing research collaboration and non-disclosure agreement in place with NHGRI, you will still be able to access that SharePoint environment and your materials. We are working on integrating existing metadata from that resource into our new ArchivesSpace site.

Any files on the ArchivesSpace site which have a corresponding resource record within the existing SharePoint site will include a separate link as an "External Document" on the ArchivesSpace resource record allowing legacy users to access the full file through this site (see screenshot). All other non-registered users will be re-directed to a form which they can complete to apply for authorization.

Information about the Redaction Process

Given the relatively recent provenance of many of the materials in our collections, we have carefully redacted sensitive information from many of the documents which are digitally available through this resource. Examples of redacted information includes internal NHGRI documents and potential PII (Personally Identifiable Information). It is not possible to manually redact all potential PII. Therefore, individuals directly referenced in these materials may contact us at NHGRIHistory@nih.gov should they have any concerns over potential PII.

*Note About Citations*

We have created a new standardized citation in our ArchivesSpace system which we ask that all researchers citing our materials use. Legacy users of our protected Sharepoint archival database are encouraged to amend their citations to match this new format for all new publications going forward. All users are encouraged to reach out to the archivist at NHGRIhistory@nih.gov, or through the “Request” function on the ArchivesSpace site (see screenshot). We are happy to provide the correct citation format for any materials upon request.


Screenshot of History of Genomics Archive using the ArchivesSpace tool: Elke Jordan Collection.  Icon buttons for the Citation, Request and Print functions are highlighted with boxes around them.

Last updated: November 2, 2023