Archives arrangement

November 15, 2006

I thought I’d share a bit about how confusing our archives shelving scheme is, in case someone else is starting out with a seemingly chaotic system. It took me about 6 months to work out what was going on, when I first started here. I finally found a description buried in a file that helped somehow. It mentions a “two-digit Dewey system” that still mystifies me. 🙂

Apparently there where three archivists before me, and each start a new system. Not wanting to be left out, I started yet another.

Here is the explanation I put together for the student workers this year:

MSS Shelving (4 different shelving schemes)

  • Mss file 00 (2 digits)
    • Numerical order [02 before 92]
    • Cutter Number* [92 b345 before 92 b43]
  • Mss file 000.00 (3digits and decimal point) [378.48 before 378.96]
    • Additional numbers (unless it’s a year) [378.48 05 before 378.48 al]
    • Letters [378.48 al before 378.48al 1890]
  • Mss file A (letters)
    • Alphabetical: One letter before two [A before Al]
    • Number before letters [A 25 before A b25]
    • Cutter numbers* [A b258 before A b3]
  • Mss file 2003.001 (year, decimal point, 3 digits)
    • Year [2003 before 2004 ]
    • Numerical order [2004.001 before 2004.003]

Do any of you have anything as wonderful as this? 🙂


6 Responses to “Archives arrangement”

  1. Archivalist Says:

    Good grief! And I thought my current situation was troublesome enough! I am having to completely redo the entire numbering system and rearrange misplaced (or “misarranged”) sub-groups and series (and files), but I wouldn’t trade it for the system(s) you have there. Are those numbering schema used for manuscript collections only, or do they cover the college’s records as well?

  2. I spent a year asking every “real” archivist I met if I should redo everything to make it make sense. (The organizer in me really wanted to). Every one of them said, DO NOT go back and try to redo what has already been done. There is too much new stuff to deal with.

    And this is only the manuscript (loosely defined in our case) collection. We don’t have any records management for the colleges, so I just get what people think to send my way.

  3. Abby Says:

    Ever heard of the “number as you go through it” system?

    A librarian was put in charge of the archives and suffice to say, she didn’t read the archive books she asked for. Everything was grouped as a librarian would and given a number. Well, not everything, only about 1/4 was numbered. Collections that should go together are yards apart. For instance, there are two separate groupings of newsletters (three if you count the duplicate third copies held in reserve).

    I have a stack of sheets from the records center that do a varying job of describing what each numbered box contains. I’ve been comparing the boxes to the sheets and I’m lucky if one out of 10 boxes has one thing matching. It’s almost as if she’d start on a group of boxes, get down to a few pages, put all those in a misc. box, add some stuff she got in the mail, and then set it aside to do another group of boxes + misc. box.

    To add insult to injury, I found a flyer she did asking faculty and alumni to donate materials. But did she keep a record of who donated what? Nope.

    The room the archives is located in has been used as a meeting place for a committee that analyses the college. They’d basically pull stuff off the shelf…

    It’s kinda like a tornado hit. The only difference is that there’s not as much physical damage.

    I’m only there 2 days a week and breaks sans meeting and training. And the higher ups want me to do a digital archives.

  4. Kate Schlesiner Says:

    can you help me/ I have been asked to physically and digitally archive the personal photographs and papers of someone’s father. I have file make pro and can easily scan and record each item. BUT how do I physically organize the mess? by media ( 35 mm slide, prints, papers, framed certificates), but subject, or by date, or by subset?

    I am a photo editor not a librarian. Help.

  5. Vev Says:

    hi there, am so interested more on how to make a proposal on the preservation and conservation of the Archival materials. Now I have the idea on how to make an arrangement with your help.
    Am lookingforward of you rply on this matter.

    Thank you very much and God bless!

    More power!!!

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