Archival Processing Guide

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This archival processing guide is combined with the Archivist's Toolkit user guide. Some content reprinted with permission from Kelley Bachli in the Department of Special Collections at UCLA.


<p> Archival Processing Guide for Staff, Students, and Volunteers Special Collections &amp; Archives Z. Smith Reynolds Library Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC \\acad1\ZSR\SpecialCollections\Administrative Files\Processing May 2010 1 Archival Processing: A Guide for Staff, Students, and Volunteers Introduction This booklet will guide you through the basics of archival processing in the department of Special Collections &amp; Archives at Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest. The guide is broken into distinct sections to help you understand your role in the making archival resources available to researchers and students. We begin with an overview of basic concepts in archival processing, followed by accessioning, re-housing and inventory, formal description, arrangement, and creating the finding aid. The guide also includes instructions for using A 1 used at ZSR (and many other libraries) for recording information about archival materials. Contents I. Overview 2 a. What is Processing? b. What Is a Finding Aid? c. Basic Principles of Archival Description II. Accessioning 4 III. Pre-Processing: Inventory and Re-Housing 13 IV. Archival Processing 15 a. Survey and Processing Plan b. Organization and Arrangement c. Description V. Appendices 42 a. Appendix A: Additional Resources b. Appendix B: Glossary of Terms c. Appendix C: Sample Finding Aid, Front Matter \\acad1\ZSR\SpecialCollections\Administrative Files\Processing May 2010 2 Overview of Archival Processing What is Processing? In order for a collection to be made available to research, the archivist gathers and analyzes information about the collection, organizes and arranges its contents, and creates finding aids in order for the user to discover relevant materials. Processing is the term used to encompass all of the work required to make collections available and accessible for research. There are three main parts of processing: x Gathering and analyzing information about the collection x Organizing and arranging the collection x Creating finding aids to allow access to the collection What Is a Finding Aid? A finding aid is a written description of archival materials. Finding aids are what enable researchers to discover the nature and contents of a collection. They are made available ZS8 l typically consist of two parts: front matter and a container list. Front matter outlines the nature of a collection. Essential parts of the front matter include: location of collection, collection number and name, name of creator(s), date range, size (extent), abstract, acquisition information, biographical/historical information, scope and content notes, arrangement, access and use restrictions, and subjects indexed. Most front matter is created after the arrangement and description of a collection. When doing processing, it is important to consider the front matter, because you may come across information that will be helpful when describing the collection as a whole. The container list is a detailed inventory of a collection. A collection may be described at the box level, folder level, and rarely, at the item level. Your processing plan will determine the level of description to be used. Descriptions in a container list should be clear and concise. Folder level description typically consists of the box and folder number, a brief description/title Basic Principles of Archival Description x Provenance o Provenance tells the history of ownership. It refers to the origin of an item or collection, identifying the original owner or creator, as well as subsequent owners and creators. \\acad1\ZSR\SpecialCollections\Administrative Files\Processing May 2010 3 o Provenance also refers to the principle that the records of a given creator must not be intermingled with those of other records creators. In archival studies, this principle is also called respect des fonds. o Provenance stresses the original context, use, and meaning of archival materials. x Original Order o Original order is the organization and sequence of records established by the creator of the records. o T ginal organizational structure is useful to researchers. o Archival processing is more manageable when you work with the existing organizational structure (if there is one). o Maintaining original order seems simple to follow, but there can be challenges in practice. What if you discover an item that clearly does not belong with the other materials in its folder? Discuss these issues with a supervisor. \\acad1\ZSR\SpecialCollections\Administrative Files\Processing May 2010 4 Accessioning Archival Materials at Z. Smith Reynolds Library Introduction Accessioning is the process through which Special Collections &amp; Archives gains initial control over a newly acquired, donated, or A an accession until it is processed and described. As soon as it arrives in Special Collections &amp; Archives, a new collection is assigned a unique accession number. An accession number consists of the year and a sequential number, such as -new collection. Instructions x Complete an Accession Form for the collection o Available at \\acad1\ZSR\SpecialCollections\Administrative Files\Accessions or from a supervisor. o An Accession Form records important information about the acquisition of an item/collection so that researchers understand the history of the material(s). x Create an Accession Record A 1 o Directions for creating an Accession Record are on the following page. o A A 8 8 A 1 o Use the information from the Accession Form to create the Accession Record. x Place the completed Accession Form i Permanent File o A Permanent File is where collection information, such as the Accession Form, donor correspondence, and container lists are kept. o Ask a supervisor if there is not a Permanent File for the collection. x For Additions to existing collections: o Create a new Accession Form and Accession Record for each addition. o A l l o u Link Resource A 1 existing fi 8 A 1t) for a collection. \\acad1\ZSR\SpecialCollections\Administrative Files\Processing May 2010 5 Accessioning Requirements General Principles - Create as much information as possible at the time of accessioning in order to avoid additions to our backlog. - The data we create should follow established standards. - The cost of putting in extra time for accessioning is justified by the benefit of increased and faster access to collections. This will save time in the long term. General Guidelines - All items/collections must be accessioned within 2 weeks of arrival at ZSR. - Accessioning includes capturing all information described below. - Items to be accessioned should be stored temporarily in staff offices, although larger collections may be stored in the stacks. Elements for New Accessions (Using A 1 - Basic Information [Required] o Accession Number o Accession Date o Resource Type (collection/papers/records) o Title o Extent o Container Summary o Dates o Location(s) o Donor Name and Address (under General Accession Note) o Custodial History (under General Accession Note) - Accession Notes [Required] o Acquisition type (deposit/gift/transfer/purchase) o Description o Condition o Inventory - Names &amp; Subjects [Strongly Preferred] o Creator (as Name Link) - Acknowledgements, Restrictions &amp; Processing Tasks [Strongly Preferred] o Rights Transferred note(s) o Access Restriction note(s) o Use Restriction note(s) o Processing Priority o Processing Plan \\acad1\ZSR\SpecialCollections\Administrative Files\Processing May 2010 6 A A M A 1 A A 1 U M V Overview The Accessions functional area is designed for establishing basic intellectual and physical control over a new accession at the time it is received in the repository. The accession record allows for recording information about the accession transaction, about the contents of the accession, and about several basic collection management events related to the accession. An accession record documents a single accession transaction. The Toolkit requires two data elements for an accession record, though you may enter many more. The required elements are a unique accession number and the accession date. These two elements serve to document the accession transaction only. The Toolkit provides additional elements for describing the accession more fully and for capturing basic collection management information. It also allows for the addition of creator, source, subject, and location information to an accession record by linking the record to name, subject, and location records. It is not necessary to use the Accessions module if the sole objective is to create end-user descriptive resources. However, one of the benefits of using the Toolkit is the ability to record accession, collection management, and description information within the same system. Basic Steps for Creating an Accession Record 1. From the Main Screen, select Accessions and press the New Record button. 2. Enter a unique Accession Number. 3. Enter the date of the accession transaction in the Accession Date field. 4. Save the accession record by pressing the OK button at the bottom right corner of the window. If you are entering multiple records, the OK+1 button will save the record you are working in and open a new accession record. Caution! The record cannot be saved if the Accession Number is not unique. The Toolkit will indicate if this is the case and will prompt you to change it to a unique string. If the record does not include the two required elements listed above, the Toolkit will indicate that the record cannot be saved because one or more of the required fields is not completed. The incomplete fields are indicated in the error message and those required field(s) must be completed in order to save the record. \\acad1\ZSR\SpecialCollections\Administrative Files\Processing May 2010 7 Accession Data Elements Zd 1. Accession Number. The accession number must be unique. ZSR format is year followed by a consecutive number. In all displays and output, the Toolkit inserts a period between each element. If the accession number is not unique, the Toolkit will alert you that the accession number C L that every accession record in the Toolkit represents only one accession. DACS Reference: 5.2.5 Example: 1976.034 2. Accession Date. The date of the accession transaction represents the date of receipt of the materials, which is not necessarily the same as the date the accession record is created. In other words, the date stamp that the Toolkit automatically assigns to the accession record documents the record creation, and is not intended to document the accession transaction. The date must be input according to the format established as the preferred date format in the application. See Chapter 15 for more information on setting the date format. Examples: 12/03/2004 (mm/dd/yyyy) Additional Elements for Basic Information Tab Required by ZSR Special Collections &amp; Archives The minimum accession record can be extended by recording data for any of the following data elements available for the accession record. None of these data elements are required to create an accession record. However, there are requirements associated with some of the data elements if they are utilized. For instance, certain date fields must be expressed by four-digit year format only. 1. Link Resource (for Collection Additions). The accession may be linked to one or more archival resources using the Link Resource button. Clicking on this will open a list of resources. To link to the resource, locate the name by scrolling through the list or use the Filter box to narrow down the list. Then, either double click on the resource in the list, or select the resource and press Link. \\acad1\ZSR\SpecialCollections\Administrative Files\Processing May 2010 8 Multiple Resource IDs may be added to link the accession record to more than one archival description or resource record. This may be necessary if the accession has a mixed provenance and its contents are distributed among multiple archival resources. When this occurs, you may wish to use the Accession Disposition Note field (located on the Accession Notes tab) to provide more information. In addition to linking an accession record to an already existing resource record, it is possible to create a new resource record from the accession record. To do so, select the Create Resource button. A new resource record will appear. Some fields in this record will already be populated with information from the accession record from which it originated. For example, the Title from the accession record will appear in the Title field of the new resource record. 2. Resource Type. Select type from pull-down list. Choose between collection, papers, and records. A Collection om a Papers have been created and accumulated as the result of an organic process reflecting the functions of the creator Records the basis of provenance with particular regard for the administrative history, the complexity, DACS Reference: 2.3.18 3. Title. The title is usually a concatenation of the creator name and a term describing the form of materials, whether general (papers, records) or specific (correspondence, diaries). The title of the accession will typically, but need not always, match the title of the resource to which the accession belongs. For example, the accession title may be John Smith Diaries, which is to become part of the Smith Family Papers. Consult DACS for further information. DACS Reference: 2.3.18-2.3.22 Examples: John Smith Diaries Office of the President Correspondence Marie Dolores Jones Papers \\acad1\ZSR\SpecialCollections\Administrative Files\Processing May 2010 9 4. Extent. First, enter the number of units as a whole or decimal number. Then select the type of measurement (linear feet). box equals .5 linear feet. Other measurements, such as 1 folder, should be estimated and explained. DACS Reference: 2.5.4-2.5.9 Examples: 148.5 linear feet .1 linear foot (1 scrapbook) 5. Container Summary. Enter an enumeration of the number and type of containers that house the accession. DACS Reference: 2.5.4-2.5.9 Examples: 5 cartons, 3 boxes, 1 flat box 10 record cartons, 3 archives boxes, 4 map folders 6. Dates. Dates can be entered in integer form (Date Begin, Date End, Bulk Date Begin, Bulk Date End), and/or as a free-text string (Date Expression). Integer dates are used to support computer processing of date information (e.g., searching). The date expression is designed for human readability and allows for the use of qualifiers, such a...</p>