So, it has been a couple of weeks now and the work has really “picked up!”
Some excitement, some frustration, some fascination… all in a week’s work.
The first major accomplishment following the completion of the excel spreadsheet (which on its own I think I can consider an accomplishment as well!) was to propose my arrangement scheme for the collection. This was done once I was able to take a step back and examine all that the collection entails and how its specific organization may prove most useful.
Following my initial proposal, Lisa looked it over and helped explain why some were good as is and others were necessary to change.
Just like I had to learn the first week, again, the key to processing a collection is making it as simple and easy to navigate for the researcher as possible. Therefore, some of the subseries I proposed were deemed unnecessary, since it would simply create more work for me as well as a potential researcher. Also, I now understand that even if a subseries is not made, certain folders can be organized together online in the Finding Aid once all the physical processing is complete. The majority of the collection consists of Char Miller’s writings. And he ha certainly written a lot! For one frame of reference, his CV (up until 2012) was 56 pages! Maybe this is more common than I think for a scholar of similar pedigree, but I still found it extremely impressive!
Some of the other Series’ we came up with include personal materials, audio/visual materials, Pomona College, artifacts and awards, and correspondence.
Once the arrangement plan was in order and all of his original folders were placed into archival boxes, I began the process of re-foldering everything into our own archival folders, while trying to create folder titles for each. For some of the folders I kept the same title as that created by Char (as we are told to try to keep the original order as much as possible) but for the majority of them, I had to come up with a title on my own. The purpose of the title needs to not only provide a good and clear indication of the folder’s contents but it also must maintain a certain type of “standardization” for the entire collection.
Additionally, including a date or date range for each folder could be really tricky if the folder has a bunch of random materials, some dated, some undated, and others containing certain dates that may or may not be too relevant.
This proved most challenging for the folders of his personal materials, especially those containing materials he gathered from his family. A lot of these folders included random materials that was difficult to “place” in order to create one title that could explain all that is enclosed.
But, I’ve been told to try and make it as simple as I can and not worry too much about these types of details – something not too easy for me, especially when working on something in which I have little prior experience! But, I will keep plugging away…
One of the more interesting things I’ve gone through so far while re-foldering was a scrapbook Char created for his mother in the early 1990s about a hurricane they experienced together. The old photographs, newspaper clippings, and primary sources of what was being written at the time proved fascinating. Plus, because the scrapbook was very old and was deteriorating in some ways, I had to replace the actual scrapbook by placing each page’s contents into a new sleeve. Overall, this part of the process was really fun!
The main focus right now for my work is to make sure all the folders are created accordingly and all of the boxes will be arranged, by series, with proper folders and folder titles, and with all of the contents either preserved correctly or separated to ensure its preservation, including older artifacts and oversized items that could be damaged in the regular folders and boxes (or could damage the folders and other materials within the box).
Hopefully the next week will bring improvement in devising folder title and date entries!
For now, here is one box that is now complete with new folders!