Wednesday, June 30, 2010

day 22: database monkey

Today Jen taught me how to use rapid data entry in Archivists' Toolkit. This option is incredibly useful and a huge time saver. It allows me to "sticky" certain fields which saves the information in that field for an unlimited amount of time. I decide when the information changes and how. Every time I select +1 there are only a few options I have to change and it goes quickly.

I'm going to be entering a lot of data for a while. I managed to enter 7 boxes that each contain 60-70 folders. The reason I was able to enter so many in a short period of time was because the folders were already numbered. I have ten boxes that are numbered and all the rest are not. I think it'll be a nice break however. My eyes were getting tired from looking back and forth from the box and folders to the monitor. It'll be welcomed to write box and folder numbers on each before having to enter it into AT. I'm looking forward to learning more about this application as I continue to use it for the collection.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

day 21: new software

Today I finished processing everything in the Riggs collection except a smoking pipe and the glass plate negatives. Jen is going to order the supplies in July and I will be able to process them then. I ventured down to the 2nd floor archives to search for the remaining supplies I needed. I am very proud of all the work I have accomplished with this collection.

Since everything I have is now all boxed up; the next step is to enter the data into Archivists' Toolkit. I read through the SCRC Wiki which had a brief guide to using the software. Jen created my account for access and guided me through the process. I only created the subseries and details in preparation for the next step. I entered the date range for each, scope and notes, and arrangement method. I think that it looks good! Jen is going to review the few steps I took today and tomorrow she will show me how to add information specific to each subseries.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

day 20: crafty

Jen reviewed my scope notes and made a few comments and grammatical changes. I updated my copy and saved it for when I begin entering information about the collection into Archivists' Toolkit. In the staff Wiki it references chapter numbers in the DACS and I asked Jen which book these referenced. I feel that the Wiki notes for writing scope notes could use more explanation, but I think if I had read the chapter it referenced before writing my notes it would've been a bit easier. Jen showed me where the DACS by the SAA is kept and I started reading through chapter 3 about scope notes until Katie (student working at the SCRC) was available to instruct me on how to build phase boxes.

Katie and I went down to the second floor into the archives to use the supplies needed to build the phase boxes. A phase box works as a protective shell for items that are fragile. From the Riggs collection I had 9 books that needed to be boxed. They ranged from diaries from the early 1900s and personal accounting books from the late 1800s. The accounting books were significantly fragile and required a lot more time and patience to box.

Katie showed me how to make one phase box and then observed while I created one on my own. Afterward she set me free and I finished the rest without assistance. It's really not difficult as it's not an exact science or measurement. I used heavy card stock as the box that folded separately around the length and width of each book. Velcro is used to secure the neat little package. Some of the books had tags attached to them that described what they were and I wrote the descriptions along each phase box.

I felt like I was wrapping presents for Christmas. It was exciting to get to work on something that was creative. When I finished I was proud to show off my box filled with phase boxed books to Jen and others at the SCRC.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

day 19: the informant

I share an office with a woman who works part-time for the SCRC. We both have numerous boxes scattered around and on top of every free space we can find. Today I noticed she had numerous boxes of cassette tapes and stacks of 1" reel to reel video tapes. I asked Jen about how they approach processing these mediums. Last semester we had a speaker from the Smithsonian present in my archives class about the methods, time, and cost of updating the data to current technology, so I was curious about their approach. She said that currently they don't have the technology to transfer or upload the tapes digitally. They're hoping that in the near future they will have the ability to transfer cassette tapes to digital files. Otherwise, they process medias like these as any other item or document. Box it, folder it, and hope that they can digitize it at some point in the future. It's really difficult for a small institution like the SCRC to get the equipment and funds needed for such projects and a little disappointing to know that at this time there isn't much that can be done.

I spent the rest of the day updating the finding aid with more information about the collection. I did a lot of research to include more information that would be helpful for researchers about the Riggs family. I sent my rough draft to Jen before I left this evening for her to review and make suggestions.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

day 18: for the finding aid

Today I began preparing the collection scope and content notes for the guide to the Riggs Family papers. I referenced the Special Collections Staff Wiki which was created by the staff at the SCRC for assistance and reference for interns and employees.

Also using the existing guide to the Riggs Family papers, I started a rough draft of the abstract, collection scope and content, and collection inventory for the collection I've been processing during the past few months. I'm more than half way done with my rough draft. I have to finish describing the subseries of series 3. I tried finding an example of a finding aid that included a subseries to reference but so far haven't found one. Most of the collections I have been selecting from the SCRC website have been small and wouldn't require a subseries, but I will ask Jen tomorrow for an example.

I've found that a lot of the information is repeated throughout the finding aid, which according to the Wiki is on purpose. I'm not entirely sure why information is presented numerous times throughout one finding aid, but I'd imagine it would be helpful for researchers to continue reading forward and not have to reference previous pages or take notes on the finding aid. It should be a helpful tool and not an additional item to research.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

day 17: watch me organize

I finished organizing the rest of the pictures and moved onto the most interesting part of the series - glass plate negatives. There are about 40 glass plate negatives that range in size from 4x6, 5x7, and 8x10 that have images of the Riggs family from the early to mid 1800s. They include individual portraits, large groups, and landscapes.

Today I investigated the best methods for processing these fragile negatives. Out of 40 only 4 are cracked or broken. For the majority that are intact Jen will order four-flap envelopes and envelopes to contain them. For the glass that is broken I discovered the best method to process them would be creating a "sink mat". In my research of this method I discovered how complex and involved this process is. It requires a lot of additional materials. Since there are only 4 broken plates, Jen and I decided to process them the same as the intact plates but store them flat instead of on its side. In the finding aid we will also denote the plates in the specific box are broken for researchers to take special care.

Jen will order the supplies I need for the glass plate negatives in July so I can process the plates once everything arrives.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

day 16: photos for hire

Since I won't be able to make phase boxes until Thursday, I decided to leave series 3 until then and start working on series 1. Series 1 contains photographs and albums from the early 1900s and during World War II. I measured the large albums and matte prints in order to use the best size box and folder for processing.

Jen and I ventured downstairs to explore the archives and look for new boxes to use. We found a good haul and brought them back upstairs. I lined each box with tissue paper before placing an album inside each box. I placed each large matted picture in its own folder that will eventually be placed in a flat box (more have to be ordered). The photographs that I placed in photo sleeves last Thursday I processed into folders and boxes.

On my way into the SCRC this afternoon I noticed there were multiple researchers using various collections in the reading room. During my internship this spring there hadn't been anyone in the room, which I felt discouraged by. I had envisioned archives being a place where many researchers would want to utilize the collections. However, this summer the room has been bustling with many researchers every day! It's exciting to see the documents and work that other archivists had spent the time to organize and process being used and referenced.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

day 15: take my picture, click click click!

The other female intern wasn't in at the same time as me today, so instead I found other work to do. I decided to start processing photographs. I grabbed my little box of single photo sleeves sizes 4x5 and 5x7 and went to work. It took me all afternoon to process two groups of photos.

They were pictures taken by John Beverley Riggs. The first set was from his tour in Okinawa, Japan during World War II in 1945. He labeled most of his pictures, which added so much to the collection. There were pictures of him with fellow soldiers and John Beverley included their names and hometowns on the back, as well as landmarks around Okinawa. The second set of pictures was from a trip to the Caribbean in 1948. He labeled all these pictures as well. They were very interesting and Jen suggested we might scan and upload a selection of pictures to the SCRC website once I finish the collection since the pictures are so informative and prevalent to our history.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

day14: the end is near

Today I finished processing all the paper documents in the collection. I collected my box of random items and requested Jen's assistance. We decided the placement and storage needs of various documents such as pamphlets, news clippings, and diaries. The oldest diary I found was kept during 1878. A few of the bindings were deteriorating, which I left unprocessed because they require further attention and care. There are numerous diaries and accounting books that are very old and fragile that need to be housed in a phase box before being processed. Jen decided that she would arrange for another intern experienced with creating phase boxes for the initial Riggs Family papers donation instruct me. I organized the remaining items and boxes in preparation for completion.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

day 13: uneventful

I continued working through organizing documents from the last box of papers today. It's almost empty! Most of what I have left is random documents that I'm working on figuring out their placement.

When I run out of room in my folder organizer, I take that time to fill more boxes and put the folders in order. Since I removed Travel as a subseries, I also decided to reorganize subseries numbers and adjusted the folders accordingly. I've almost completely filled 4 shelves with boxes and boxes of Riggs Family papers. Most of the boxes and folders are unnumbered, which allows me flexibility to finalize the organization of the collection.

Today was more of the same, nothing entirely new. Just a continuation of processing documents that was less interesting to browse.

Friday, June 4, 2010

day 12: these are the documents that never end

Today I continued reviewing the folders and documents inside the final two boxes. I completed most of the first box, with the exception of a few items I have questions about. I have been compiling a small box of books, pictures, and documents that I'm not sure how to process or where to include within the series. When I finish processing the majority of documents, my plan is to bring the box to Jen in order to review the items inside and discuss various options with her. I figure asking her all at once will take up less of her time and make it simpler for me to receive help.

Occasionally I ask questions along the way. Today I came across an envelope that I could read about 90% of the heading. The handwriting on the envelope grew progressively worse as the person was writing so that by the end, I had no idea what the documents were used for. I knew they were deeds to land and to which land. However, I couldn't read the what these were used for. I brought it to Jen's attention. I know that down the road I will encounter more documents that I will not be able to read and I wanted to hear her suggestions.

Jen said that often it is difficult to read handwriting, especially from older documents. She suggested I make a photocopy of the envelope and include it in the folder with the documents. We created a brief title for the folder stating "Deeds referenced for research" and I made a note on the folder to include notes in the finding aid about the legibility issue I encountered and a copy of the front of the envelope. That way I'm not taking anything away from the documents in the collection and maintaining the preservation of the collection.

Jen also informed me there is a local workshop being offered that will instruct how to read/decipher handwriting from old documents. It sounds really interesting! These are classes I hope to investigate and enroll in once I obtain my Masters degree.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

day 11: it continues

Today I discovered that I had only two boxes of documents from the Riggs Family papers left to sort. Of course these boxes had the most numerous and varied documents which means they will take the most time and consideration to process. Initially Jen and I had discussed processing each box as they were already organized. Just simply re-folder and box the documents. However, we realized continuing a series outside of the subseries would be really messy in the finding aid and confusing for researchers. Instead, we decided that I would keep each folder organized as it was given to us but separate each folder within corresponding subseries. I spent the remainder of today reviewing each folder and determining the placement of each.

Initially I had suggested 5 subseries within the Paper documents series for the Riggs Family papers: Correspondences, Travel, Diaries, Personal Billing, and Publications and Research. With only 2 boxes left, I realized there was only one legal sized folder that contained all the travel documents I had found thus far. One folder is not nearly enough for its own subseries and box. I decided to remove Travel as a category and included the folder in personal billing. I now have 4 subseries and I informed Jen of my findings and alteration to my processing plan. She agreed with my idea and I am very pleased!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

day 10: sorting

Today I picked a box and started separating the documents that were mixed around inside. In one box I found documents that fulfilled three of the subseries categories that I had determined for the collection; travel, publications and research, and personal business. I flattened the papers and created three piles. After I finished organizing, I labeled folders and transferred the material to archival boxes. I have a few more items left in the box that I need further direction from Jen before processing.

I think the trickiest part of today was determining the folder titles. Some of the documents were easily grouped together as the donation had been previously, although quickly, arranged and labeled. I used the labels provided but occasionally added more detail, such as date and author/family member it pertained to. I need to be more confident in my work and I think after reviewing what I did today with Jen will assist in building my confidence as an archivist.