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ARCHIVES Home

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ARCHIVES  June 2006, Week 3

ARCHIVES June 2006, Week 3

Subject:

Re: archival procedure question

From:

"Lucas. Arel" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Lucas. Arel

Date:

Fri, 16 Jun 2006 12:35:16 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (84 lines)

I see no reason to rearrange the collection physically if you have a
chronological order available electronically.  The reason for "original
order," in my view, is to facilitate understanding of the donor.  For me,
archives are collections of artifacts that not only help a researcher to
understand the items themselves but also the mind of the creator.  For me,
that's the fun of being an archivist--getting to know the collector through
the collection.  That's the way a biographer uses the collection, or a
historian studying the creator.

And who is to say that the chronological order will help every researcher?
Perhaps the subject order would be more useful to some, the chronological
order to others.  If you leave them physically arranged the way the creator
organized them, then create an electronic tool that allows other kinds of
access, why not include other metadata to help researchers who might have
other ways of searching the collection?

"Original order" and "provenance" are the two pillars of archival theory and
practice, and I believe that's the case because how people organize things
tells you something about them.  As an archivist, you aren't just collecting
things; you're giving access to the collectors, whether institutions or
people.

Arel
(the usual disclaimers)
Arel Lucas, C.A.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott Campus
-----Original Message-----
From: Archives & Archivists [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
Of Mack Royal
Sent: Friday, June 16, 2006 10:48 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: archival procedure question

I work at the LBJ Library and Museum in Austin, Texas in the AV Archives.

We have boxes of prints from a White House photographer named Abbie Rowe.
(not a joke)
He sent them to us in subject order. The original order has been thoroughly
documented.

I want to rearrange the photographic prints in chronological order so that
they will be much easier to locate. Each print has a serial number and date
on the back of the print. A new finding aid will be produced.

I want to scan the prints and name the files according a  yyyy-mm-dd-serial
# format.
That way the computer files will sort in chronological order.
 

Does anyone know of any reason a professional archivist would object to
this?

I have been here five years and I want to do this. My supervisor has been
here 37 years and says " it is against all archival principles to physically
change the order of this collection". I say he is full of bull. What say ye
all?

A posting from the Archives & Archivists LISTSERV List sponsored by the
Society of American Archivists, www.archivists.org.
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A posting from the Archives & Archivists LISTSERV List sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, www.archivists.org.
For the terms of participation, please refer to http://www.archivists.org/listservs/arch_listserv_terms.asp.

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