Archival Arrangement and Description. Becky Simmons RIT Archivist

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1 Archival Arrangement and Description Becky Simmons RIT Archivist

2 Today Arrangement and description Archival descriptive standards Data Structure Standards Data Value Standards Encoded Archival Description (EAD)

3 What are archival and manuscript materials? Non-current records of an organization, institution or individual that have been selected for preservation because they have continuing value

4 Arrangement Goal is intellectual and physical control 1 st step: Initial survey of collection - Where did the collection come from? - What is in the collection? - What are the major groupings of records and items within the collection? - How do the pieces fit together?

5 Core Principles Guiding Arrangement and Description Principle of Provenance the relationship between records and the organizations or individuals that created, accumulated, and/or maintained and used them in the conduct of personal or corporate activity. -SAA. Describing Archives: A Content Standard

6 Core Principles Guiding Arrangement and Description Principle of original order retain records in the order in which they were kept by the person or organization that created, accumulated, assembled or maintained them.

7 New collection arrives!

8 New collection arrives Preliminary review of general content and condition of records Check for dirt, mold, bugs, fragile items, food, special formats, etc. General overview of arrangement Many institutions accession collections with very basic level of information Decision made about how much further processing to do

9 Formal Survey the collection Make detailed notes about: Provenance: all from same person or organization? Order of collection: identify major groupings and sub-groupings, filing order, missing areas and gaps. Will be based on similar activities or function Physical extent and condition: how much, what types of material

10 Scope and content What activities, events, and functions are documented? What is their significance? What are the products, outcome or consequences of the activities documented in the collection? Who is involved? What are the major names? What is the location or setting? What is the time period?

11 - Scope and content, cont. - What topics are addressed? - What type of materials are included? - Also consider: significance of collection to the institution, significance of activities documented to the institution, significance of historical context - administrative data restrictions, preservation metadata

12 Establishing Context Undertake research outside of collection Provides a context and background for records Assists with understanding records, particularly records that are incomplete or poorly labeled Organizations reorganize, split, merge, change names, etc. which can make understanding the arrangement difficult

13 Arrangement of collection Formulate a plan based on notes taken during the survey and research Pattern and level of arrangement influences eventual description Based on order discerned during survey Groupings of records called series and records arranged in series and subseries.

14 Arrangement of the collection, cont. Record series will be as unique as the individuals or organizations that created them

15 Imposing order Collection has no discernable arrangement or pockets of disorder You might have to do some reordering. Look for relationships among individual items for connections. Keep idea of functions and activities in mind. You might decide to simply make a list of the folders and items and call it a day

16 Empire State Association of the Deaf Exercise # 1 look at the list of folders and see if you can discern major groupings of records 1. Governance Minutes Reports Correspondence Acts of Incorporation Constitution and Bylaws Membership info Other materials and misc.

17 ESAD, cont. 2. Correspondence by name and subject 3. Financial records - Treasurer s reports - IRS Tax Documents - Ledgers - Misc. 4. Conventions - proceedings, programs, misc. - documents

18 ESAD, cont. 5. Printed matter Journals, Directory of Services 6. Handbooks 7. Special projects including legislative work (broken down by organization, event, project etc. 8. Collected articles including historical information about ESAD 9. Photographs 10. Miscellaneous such as scrapbooks

19 Imposing Order, cont. No one right way How much is too much? Issues scrapbook (Box 7) Would likely leave as a group someone pulled it together respecting original order. But maybe not. Black binder with what looks a grouping of info on legislative issues and other issues. Likely leave as is. List at the end. Scrapbooks.

20 ESAD, cont. 3 red binders (Box 6) what is condition of binders? Has indexes inserted in front. Might just leave as is even with minutes out of order. Can just list it. Folders with vague headings e.g. Correspondence/Issues need to look inside. Materials near each other that could be split up e.g. (Box 5) However, are they related?

21 Physical Processing Arrange according to the plan formulated after the survey and research Processing may include preservation activities: Refoldering Flattening documents Removing rusty stapes and paper clips Sleeving photographs in Mylar Constructing individual housing for fragile documents Removal of items from old notebooks and scrapbooks

22 Physical Processing, cont. Create series, folder, item list to the level you decided upon. You might think you will do more processing in the future, but probably not. Meissner and Greene article: More Product, Less Process streamlined approach to processing. Processing activities focused at the series level

23 Physical Processing, cont. Describe below series level rarely, and only for items that merit that level of description Strong proponents of original order make a list and let users locate what they need Question refoldering, removing staples, etc. Materials held in appropriate environment will be preserved quite nicely for many years Obsessive attention to detail among archivists left many collections on the shelves with no description and thus unavailable to the public. Example: p. 48 Meissner.pdf

24 Description, cont. Description is the creation of an accurate representation of the archival material by the process of capturing, collating, analyzing and organizing information that serves to identify archival material and to explain the context and records systems that produced it, as well as the results of these process. Kathleen Roe, Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts, (SAA, 2005). Amount and level of arrangement and detail in description deepens on the importance of the materials, management needs and resources of the repository and access requirements of the users.

25 Description, cont. Identify the appropriate level of description for the materials. Level of description reflects arrangement. Level of description will vary according to the institution Gather information needed to identify the materials. Describe the materials and their arrangement

26 Description, cont. Creator(s) of archival materials are described as well Describe the access and use conditions for the materials Identify administrative information about the materials

27 Descriptive Standards Describing Archives: A Content Manual (DACS) Regulates content of data: how to derive title, how to form the names of people and organizations associated with a collection. Describes the materials and their arrangement. The standard is independent of any access tools pdf Order of elements outlined in DACS is not hard and fast

28 Descriptive Standards Location of repository, title, date, extent, name of creator(s), administrative/biographical history, scope and content required Information included in archival descriptions must come from an appropriate source, most common of which is the materials themselves. Information is rarely transcribed from materials themselves (library practice) Summarize or interpolate information that appears in the materials or from external source

29 DACS, Title Element Title element provides a word or phrase by which the material being described is known or can be identified. Devised titles generally have two parts: 1. name of the creator(s), collector(s) or compiler(s) 2. The nature of the materials being described Take the information from any reliable source, including the materials themselves, an external source such as donor or another copy of version of the materials being described.

30 DACS, Title Element When devising a title, compose a brief title that uniquely identifies the materials, normally consisting of a name segment, a term indicating the nature of the unit being described, and optionally a topical segment as instructed in the following rules.

31 DACS, Title Element Record the name (s) of the person (s) family (families) or corporate body predominantly responsible for the creation, assembly, accumulation, and/or maintenance of the materials. Record the name in the form by which the creator or collector is generally known. Record the name in natural language order Describe the nature of the archival materials e.g. papers, records, collection. More specific terms can be used e.g. scrapbooks, survey reports, etc.

32 DACS, Title Element Term collection applies to people and records to organizations Can add a topical unit e.g. Becky Simmons collection on RIT history (I accumulated the collection, it is not about me) Exercise #2 Derive titles from the descriptions

33

34 DACS, Dates Date(s) that pertain to the creation, assembly, accumulation, and/or maintenance and use of the materials being described. Take dates from the materials being described or from an outside source Record the date(s) of the unit being described as a range, a series or a single date. 1865, , bulk , 1975 circa 1850s, circa Approximately

35 DACS, Extent Record the quantity of the material in terms of its physical extent as linear or cubic feet, number of items, or number of containers or carriers 25 linear feet 6 document boxes 7 video tapes 15 folders

36 DACS, Name of Creator(s) Required information, if known Record the name of the creator(s) identified in the name element in the devised title of the materials using standardized vocabularies (Library of Congress Authorities) or with rules for formulating standardized names such as those found in AACR2. You will need to invert e.g.

37 DACS, Administrative or Biographic History Provides relevant information about corporate bodies, persons or families identified using the Name of Creator(s) Element. Provide information necessary to explain the context in which the materials were created, assembled, accumulated, etc. Record information relevant to the understanding of the life, activities, and relationships of the person or family.

38 DACS, Administrative of Biographic History, cont. Start with a brief summary of the most relevant aspects of a person s or family s life. Include name, birth and death dates, education, profession and geographic location. Include significant events, accomplishments, achievements, particularly as they relate to the collection

39 DACS, Administrative of Biographic History, cont For corporate bodies, provide a brief summary of the most relevant aspects of the corporate body s existence. Include name, dates of existence, main functions or activities and geographic location. Date and place of founding of the corporate body, and if applicable, date and place of dissolution Information about the function and activities performed by the corporate body

40 DACS, Administrative of Biographic History, cont Provide information on the administrative structure and the dates of any changes to the structure that are significant. Provide information on the nature of the changes Provide information on relationship to predecessor or successor bodies

41 DACS, Scope and Content Provides information about the nature of the materials and activities reflected in the records being described to enable users to judge is potential relevance. Activities, transactions and processes that generated the materials being described Documentary form or intellectual characteristics of the records (e.g., minutes, diaries, reports, watercolors)

42 DACS, Scope and Content, cont. Dates and time period covered by the content or subject of the collection Geographic areas and places to which the records pertain Major subject matter covered in the records: topics, events, people and organizations Other relevant information that aids users in evaluating the relevance of the collection, including completeness (gaps?), changes in location, etc.

43 ESAD The records include correspondence between board members and branch representatives, meeting minutes, and convention proceedings dating from the late 1930s to the mid 1990s. The records from the 1970s and 1990s are less complete than the other decades. Financial records consist of treasurers reports, ledger books, bank statements, tax-exempt documents, and spread-sheets. The evolution of the ESAD s constitution and bylaws can be traced from a photocopy of the 1867 version to that of There is a list of members names and addresses from 1940; additional membership information dates from the 1960s and 1980s and is arranged by branch.

44 DACS, Scope and Content, cont. Exercise # 3 Pick out the major elements of the sample scope and content notes.

45 DACS, System of Arrangement Describes the current organization of the collection Describe the current arrangement of the material in terms of the various aggregations within it and their relationships.

46 DACS, System of Arrangement, cont. Examples: The first portion of the collection includes materials related to specific productions. These items are arranged by production with each of the major shows' materials housed within its own box. This is followed by a series of scripts, and then administrative documents including organization newsletters and Deaf Rochester (Silent News). Production posters are contained within a single oversize box, while the video tapes and miscellaneous photographs are located at the end of the collection.

47 DACS, System of Arrangement, cont. Example: Arranged in 5 series: 1. Subject files concerning refugee issues, Project NGOC organizational files, Artwork, Newspaper clippings, The collection is arranged by item type. (for a collection of artwork) Materials are arranged in chronological order. The four videotapes are housed at the end of the collection.

48 DACS, cont. Some potential additional elements: Abstract Immediate Source of Acquisition Accruals Related archival materials Conditions governing reproduction and use Conditions governing access Elements used and amount of information varies widely

49 Data Structure Standards Encoded Archival Description (EAD) XML based format that works with DACS Allows for interoperability Not related to any particular software or hardware Think of EAD as a shell while DACS defines the filling RIT uses Archivists Toolkit (AT). Allows us to fill in fields and the system creates EAD as well as MARC records Rendered on the web with a style sheet

50 EAD The archdesc section contains the description of the collection material itself. a description of the collection as a whole, including the creator (which may be an individual or an organization), size (usually given in linear feet), inclusive dates, language(s), Abstract or brief description.

51 EAD <archdesc level="collection" type="inventory" relatedencoding="marc21"> <did> <head>overview of the Collection</head> <repository encodinganalog="852$a" label="repository: ">Blank University</repository> <origination label="creator: "> <persname encodinganalog="100">brightman, Samuel C. (Samuel Charles), </persname> </origination> <unittitle encodinganalog="245$a" label="title: ">Samuel C. Brightman Papers</unittitle> <unitdate encodinganalog="245$f" normal="1932/1992" type="inclusive" label="inclusive Dates: "> </unitdate> <physdesc encodinganalog="300$a" label="quantity: "> <extent>6 linear ft.</extent> </physdesc> <abstract encodinganalog="520$a" label="abstract: "> Papers of the American journalist including some war correspondence, political and political humor writings, and adult education material </abstract> <unitid encodinganalog="099" label="identification: " countrycode="us" repositorycode="nsyu"> </unitid> <langmaterial label="language: " encodinganalog="546"> <language langcode="eng">english</language> </langmaterial> </did>

52 Data Value Standards Controlled vocabulary for names, subject terms, geographic locations, genre terms Many vocabularies available: Library of Congress Name/Authority File Library of Congress Subject Headings Art and Architecture Thesaurs Getty Union List of Artist s Names Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names Thesaurus for Graphic Materials

53 Data Value Standards Used for applying a term designating a type of material in the title. Used for verifying names Used for indexing terms in subject headings

54

55 Archivist s Toolkit Open-source archival data management program that supports archival processing and production of finding aids Accessions module Resource record module for describing materials Export EAD finding aids, MARCSML records, Dublin Core and METS and MODS Superseded by ArchivesSpace

56

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