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  • 1.  Archiving files

    Posted 11-26-2017 05:36 PM
    Hi Everyone,

    The museum I am currently working at has a collection that has never been accessioned or documented properly or at all and it will be starting from the ground up. Currently we are in the organizing stage and I am going through boxes with some documentation of objects from the early 1940's, I want to place them in archival boxes so that at a later date we can properly go through them, my question is whether the original file folders be kept with the contents and placed in a larger (legal size) folder and then in the box or if they may be discarded?  

    Thank you and happy holidays.

    Daisy Figueroa
    Forest Lawn Museum

  • 2.  RE: Archiving files

    Posted 11-27-2017 09:47 AM
    I would say it really depends upon if the folders have any archival significance. Do they have any additional information on them? Are they historically important at all?  IF they are just generic folders and/or harmful to the documents within you can certainly discard them. It would all depend upon how you intend to organize the archival material.

    Rebecca Dupont
    Arlington VA

  • 3.  RE: Archiving files

    Posted 11-27-2017 10:21 AM
    First of all, DON'T THROW ANYTHING AWAY!  In my first job after college I had to create accession files for a museum that had be en operating for 20 years with out documentation of collections.  Any information was stored in a functional bath tub.  What was current was on top. What was not was in the bottom.   The first step was to read and organize the materials by year and then gradually create accessions file and an accessions register from the materials you have.  In some cases the only documentation of an object entering the collection was a calendar pages or a note someone made and forgot long ago.  This may seem like an impossible task and is very time consuming.  The positive thing is the preliminary sorting can be done by volunteers or interns.  They may carry the project as far as temporary accession, donor and location files and a temporary collection register.  A volunteer or intern could also enter the information into PastPerfect or other simple collections software. 

    I cannot stress enough the importance of a project like this for any museum.   Accurate records are vital for grant applications, proving artifact status as gift or loan and for tax purposes  for past an future donors.  Don't put this project off. 

    Stephen Bohlin
    Executive Director
    Andrew Low House
    Savannah GA

  • 4.  RE: Archiving files

    Posted 12-02-2017 06:43 PM
    Hi Stephen,

    At the moment all I am doing is just moving the files into regular new boxes so we can look through them again once we do our inventory and rehousing. I will be going through those files to create accession files, so nothing will be thrown out, however the file folders are from the 1930's and 1940's and are very weathered or falling apart. Since most of the objects don't appear to have deeds we will be keeping any record of it in the accession file. It is going to be a long process and one that I hope we can accomplish in the new year.

    Thank you!!

    Daisy Figueroa

  • 5.  RE: Archiving files

    Posted 11-27-2017 11:44 AM
    Hi Daisy,

    I would say that it is not typically necessary to keep the original file folders unless you want to separate the older documentation from newer documentation, have multiple folders for a single work, or if the folders have been annotated with notes or other information. As you transfer files a simple but effective way of quickly cataloging would be to include a dated notebook page that includes a count of the number of documents in the file and possibly a basic list of the contents. That way you are including a document that marks your intervention and the state of the documents at that time.

    Good luck,

    Robert Calhoun PhD
    Kress Fellow for Provenance Research
    Columbus Museum of Art
    Columbus OH

  • 6.  RE: Archiving files

    Posted 11-28-2017 09:16 AM
    At this early stage, it makes no sense to put what might be a disorganized mass of folders into archival quality enclosures.  Just buy and use ordinary records storage boxes 10 x 12 x 15 with detached lids and have on hand some ordinary manila folders for any loose materials. 

    Review all the folders, looking at the labels and annotations on each one.   Can you determine whether there was ever a filing arrangement or arrangements that changed over time?  Put the folders in the box(es) in that order.  Add date range to each folder or other info that will make it more clear what is in the folder.  If there is no order, develop an arrangement plan, and talk it over with another person.  If you both agree that the plan makes sense, proceed in sorting the materials.  

    Once you've organized the materials, determine the types and quantities of archival quality supplies you'll need to rehouse the materials.  Of course, you may have discovered that not all the materials are of permanent value.  Do not discard until the end of the project and have a second person review just to make sure. 

    The Society of American Archivists sells any number of books that may assist museums with their archives.

    Peter Parker
    Portsmouth NH

  • 7.  RE: Archiving files

    Posted 12-05-2017 12:55 PM
    Hi Peter,

    Thank you! I will definitely be placing the archives into their respective group/collection and not separating them. As for archival materials I made a list of all the necessary things but wont be purchasing them anytime soon, we will purchase them once we start to head in the archival direction.

    Daisy Figueroa
    Museum Client Representative
    Forest Lawn Museum

  • 8.  RE: Archiving files

    Posted 11-29-2017 09:02 AM
    I would recommend not getting rid of the original folders and to try and keep things together as best you can. Original order and clues on folders [what materials are foldered similarly, handwriting, etc.] can helpful to archivists when processing records. 

    Good luck!

    Amanda McKnight
    Associate Archivist and Librarian
    Barnes Foundation
    Philadelphia PA