Posted by: stackedfivehigh | March 28, 2010

Surveying and box lists

I started surveying a new set of files, my first venture into historic archives instead of  institutional archives.  That being said, they’re incredibly similar to what I was previously working on, since they are internal files from another institution.

The files have already been rehoused, staples pulled, numbered and so on.  Unfortunately it looks like the person who did that work didn’t keep the folders in order, so one of my jobs will be determining a logical sequence for the files.

So far I’ve only started a basic survey and box list, writing the names of the folders and summarizing the contents.  I’ve been reassured that summarizing will get easier in time, and that everyone gets sucked into spending too much time on them now and then.  Some of the folders are so interesting it’s hard to do a quick review and move on.

Another issue I have is trying to find a common theme among so many disparate papers.  For example, one of the folders contained correspondence from a Rabbi.  This included personal mail, business for the synagogue, correspondence as the headmaster of the school associated with the synagogue, and so on.  That is actually pretty close to the summary I put on the box list, but I wasn’t entirely sure how much detail to give, and it took a little while to come up with that synopsis.

It does seem to get easier and faster with experience, and I’m starting to feel much more comfortable with the nomenclature and basic inventory duties involved with archives.

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