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Overview of Archival Processing

  1. 1. Overview of Archival Processing Or where on earth do I start with this stuff? A hands on exercise. By jennifer whitlock, archivist at Indianapolis Museum of Art for the Society of Indiana Archivists Workshop October 7, 2011
  2. 2. What is an archive? Archives are the non-current records of individuals, groups, institutions, and governments that contain information of enduring value. Examples of Types: •College and University •Corporate •Government •Historical Societies •Museums •Religious •Special Collections •Other…
  3. 3. Category Libraries Archives • Published • Unpublished Nature • Discrete items • Groups of related items • Independent significance • Significance from relationship to • Available elsewhere other items • Unique records Creator Many different individuals or organizations Parent organization or institution Method of Separate, independent actions Organic: normal course of business creation Method of • Selected as single items • Appraised in aggregate receipt • Decisions revocable • Decisions irrevocable (destruction is forever) Predetermined subject classification Provenance and original order (relation Arrangement to structure and function) Level of Individual items (books) Aggregate (record group or series) Description • Built into the published item (title • Must be prepared by the archivist Descriptive page, table of contents, index) media • Card catalog, online public access • Guides and inventories, online system (OPAC) systems Access • Open stacks • Closed Stacks • Items circulate • Items do not circulate Adapted from Developing and Maintaining Practical Archives by Gregory Hunter
  4. 4. What does an archivist do? Triple threat: Organizes Preserves Provides access But that’s not all…
  5. 5. How does an archivist do it? Key archival concepts and activities: 1. Surveying the collection Provenance or respect du fonds Original order 2. Appraisal long-term research value not $$ value 3. Arrangement & Description not cataloging! Controlled vocabulary 4. Preservation 5. Access
  6. 6. Format is irrelevant!! What is a record? Audio visual materials Data or information Digital files Hand-written or typed or ink-jet in a fixed form that is Architectural plans created or received Photographs in the course of Letters Manuscripts individual or Publications institutional activity Brochures and set aside Ephemera Drawings (preserved) Invoices, forms, reports as evidence Meeting minutes of that activity 3-D objects Clippings for future reference. Websites Emails Punch cards Musical score Etc etc
  7. 7. Accessioning and surveying the collection
  8. 8. What do we have here? Get the context of the materials: •Who made this collection? •What is the size and scope? •Can any organizational scheme be found? Answering these questions as you process will guide the arrangement and description of the
  9. 9. Provenance Respect du fonds Respect for Original Order
  10. 10. Appraisal Long-term research value, NOT $$$$$$$ Usually takes place prior to donation or at accessioning: Do we want this? Make a collecting policy and mission statement! Other appraisal considerations : •Provenance •Content •Authenticity •Reliability •Completenes s •Condition
  11. 11. Record Values Primary Value Administrative Value Fiscal Value Legal Value Historical Value Secondary Value Evidential Value Informational Value Other Values Research Value Intrinsic Value
  12. 12. Appraisal Small appraisal decisions happen during processing: Often called weeding… Is this a duplicate? Does this gum wrapper have any research value? Can we keep these explosive nitrate films? Why did someone save this?
  13. 13. Arrangement
  14. 14. Description
  15. 15. Preservation
  16. 16. Access
  17. 17. Fundamentals books from SAA: Boles, F. (2005). Selecting & appraising archives & manuscripts. Kurtz, M. J. (2004). Managing archival & manuscript repositories. O'Toole, J. M., & Cox, R. J. (2006). Understanding archives & manuscripts. Pugh, M. J. (2005). Providing reference services for archives & manuscripts. Ritzenthaler, M. L. (2010). Preserving archives & manuscripts. Roe, K. (2005). Arranging & describing archives & manuscripts.
  18. 18. Internet resources for Archival theory & practice Society of American Archivists Statement of Principles http://www.archivists.org/news/custardproject.asp Society of American Archivists Code of Ethics http://www.archivists.org/governance/handbook/ app_ethics.asp Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology http://www.archivists.org/glossary/index.asp More Product, Less Process: Pragmatically revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal with Late 20th-Century Collections by Greene & Meissner http://ahc.uwyo.edu/documents/faculty/greene/papers/ Greene-Meissner.pdf
  19. 19. Internet resources for Preservation Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) http://www.nedcc.org/resources/introduction.php Library of Congress Preservation http://www.loc.gov/preserv/preserve.html National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) http://www.archives.gov/preservation/ LYRASIS http://www.lyrasis.org/Preservation/Resource s-and-Publications.aspx Holliger/Metal Edge Archival Supplies
  20. 20. Questions?? Let’s get started! (this is the hand’s on exercise part)


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