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Introduction to arrangement and description (feb 4&5, 2012)


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Slide presented at the 'Introduction to Arrangement and Description' workshop at the University of Guelph on February 4 and 5, 2012. They include an overview of key elements of the Rules for Archival Description and an introduction to creating descriptions for the new Archeion service.

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Introduction to arrangement and description (feb 4&5, 2012)

  1. 1. Introduction toArrangement and Description Amanda Hill Archeion Coordinator
  2. 2. Plan for the workshop• Introductions• First principles: arrangement• Practical arrangement exercise• Archival description• Practical description exercise• Descriptive standards – RAD• Sharing descriptions through Archeion
  3. 3. Overview• Why do we arrange and describe records? – To know what we’ve got and where it is – To make materials accessible to potential users – To explain the context of the creation and use of records
  4. 4. Arrangement is the intellectual and/or physicalprocesses of organizing documents in accordancewith accepted archival principlesDescription is the creation of an accuraterepresentation of the archival material by theprocess of capturing, collating, analyzing, andorganizing information that serves to identifyarchival material and to explain the context andrecords systems that produced it. Rules for Archival Description (Version 2) 2004
  5. 5. Arrangement• Key archival principles – Provenance – Original order• Another important consideration – Ease of use by researchers
  6. 6. Provenance• Chain of custody is important for demonstrating the authenticity of archival material• Need to maintain the coherence of a group of materials in order for them to have archival integrity• Materials from one source should not be mixed with materials from another• Respect des fonds (respect for the source)
  7. 7. Definition of a fonds• All of the documents, regardless of form or medium, naturally generated and/or accumulated and used by a particular person, family or corporate body in the conduct of personal or corporate activity
  8. 8. Integrity of the fonds• Context is crucial to understanding records• Keep materials together to maintain the context of their creation and use• N.B. Materials can be physically separated, if necessary, e.g. for specialist storage
  9. 9. Fonds can be big or small• Records of a long-running business or other organization can be extensive• A single fonds may arrive in more than one accession• One or two items may be all that survive: “As one archivist has said, what is left of a fonds is a fonds.”1 1
  10. 10. Exercise: identifying fonds in accessioned materialAcc. Records received Nature of ReceiptNo. A The minute book of the Guelph Chapter of the Donated in May, 1980 by Georges Babineau, Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, who found it in the attic of the house he dating 1955-1960. purchased. B 2 m of minutes, correspondence and other Donated in May, 1988 by Estelle Trethewey. textual records, dating 1966-1975, of the Galt She was the last recording secretary of the Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of chapter, which folded in 1975. the Empire. C 212 loose photographs taken by Estelle Donated in June, 1996 by Johanna Trethewey, Trethewey, dating 1971-1982, showing events the granddaughter of Estelle Trethewey. of the Galt Chapter of the IODE, and also other social and family occasions in the Galt/Cambridge Area. D A second minute book of the Guelph Chapter Donated in October, 1999 by Marlys Cabbalie, of the Imperial Order Daughters of the daughter of the a member of the Guelph Empire, dating 1960-1966. Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire.
  11. 11. Fonds• Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, Guelph Chapter fonds (Accessions A and D)• Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, Galt Chapter fonds (Accession B)• Estelle Trethewey fonds (Accession C)
  12. 12. Original order• Aim: to preserve or recreate the order and organization in which the documents were created and/or used by the creator or office of origin – Think about the functions of records – Keep related records together
  13. 13. Series• A group of records within a fonds which are related to each other by function• Series may be further divided into sub-series• Series may contain files or items
  15. 15. 1. Gather background information• Find out as much as you can about the creator of the materials you are going to be processing – Accession records and correspondence – Internet searches• Sometimes you may have very little information on the creator, which makes Step 2 even more important…
  16. 16. 2. Survey the material• Look through the fonds/collection• Get a sense of what it contains• See if there is any obvious original order• Identify materials which can be disposed of – Make a note of anything you do discard
  17. 17. 3. Physically arrange the material• Group related materials together – reflecting original order where possible – bearing the end user in mind – following any local conventions
  18. 18. Example of arepository with anarrangement andnumbering schemefor certain types ofrecords
  19. 19. 3. Physically arrange the material• Package materials in acid-free containers – Less essential if your storage area is climate-controlled• Remove rubber bands• Remove metals fastenings, if this is your institution’s policy – This may not always be appropriate, depending on the bulk of material involved
  20. 20. Arrangement within a fonds• Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, Guelph Chapter fonds – Simple, chronological arrangement • Minute book 1955-1960 • Minute book 1960-1966
  21. 21. More complex arrangement• Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, Galt Chapter fonds (Accession B) – 2 m of minutes, correspondence and other textual records, dating 1966-1975, of the Galt Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire. • Minutes • Correspondence • Other materials
  22. 22. Possible arrangement Fonds IODE, Galt Chapter records Series Minutes Correspondence Other materialsMinute Book, Minute Book, Administrative Thank-you letters 1966-1969 1969-1975 correspondence Items Files
  23. 23. Very complex arrangementAnti-Apartheid Movement papers, being sorted in Oxford, ca.1997
  24. 24. Mike Terry (1947-2008), executivesecretary of theAnti-ApartheidMovement, 1975-1994A case of ‘originaldisorder’!
  25. 25. • (A) Boycott Movement papers, 1959-1961• (B) AAM Governing Bodies, 1960-1995• (C) AAM Committees, 1960-1995• (D) Local Anti-Apartheid Groups, [ca. 1960]-1995• (E) Professional and Special Interest Groups Against Apartheid, 1970-1994• (F) Local Authorities Against Apartheid, [ca. 1960]-1995• (G) Britain, 1959-1995• (H) South Africa, 1959-1995• (I) South Africa in Transition, 1986-1995• (J) Other African Countries, 1961-1995• (K) Europe, 1972-1995• (L) Commonwealth, 1960-1994• (M) Overseas anti-apartheid organisations, 1963-1995• (N) International Organisations, 1960-1995• (O) Campaigns, 1956-1995• (P) AAM Head Office, 1960-1995• (Q) Correspondence, 1960-1995• (R) Anti-Apartheid Enterprises (AAE), 1986-1990• (S) Clapham Common Productions Limited, 1987-1995• (T) Freedom Productions Limited, 1987-1995 1,400 boxes of• (U) Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), 1991-1998 material, once• (V) Photographs and Audio-Visual Material, 1900-[ca. 1999] catalogued!• (W) Posters, 1963-[ca. 1999]• (X) Exhibition Material, Artwork and Objects, [ca. 1960]-[ca. 1999]• (Y) Printed Material, 1960-1994• (Z) Miscellaneous Material, [ca. 1960]-[ca. 1999]
  26. 26. Limited arrangement
  27. 27. Boxes in the Basement• 89 boxes – materials had already been used by researchers: box numbers were known and records could not be re-arranged• Had to sort items within each box – Original boxes were replaced with archival packaging – Each box filled around 3 archive boxes
  28. 28. Not part of the original order
  29. 29. Important!• Bearing in mind the principles of original order, maintaining the integrity of archival materials and making life easier for users…• …There is no ‘right way’ to arrange• Common sense counts for much
  30. 30. Hotel sign(lacking in common sense)
  31. 31. Collections• Materials that were not generated as part of the activity of a person or organisation• For example: – A group of postcards of a local town – Records relating to a particular subject, assembled by an individual• These are not fonds, but collections• Their provenance and original order may have been lost, but they can be described as a discrete group of records
  32. 32. Arrangement: Summary• Group materials in a way that reflects the original creator’s order, if it is possible to determine what that was• Keep in mind the requirements of end users• Package materials in archival-quality wrappings
  34. 34. Description• A means of establishing intellectual control over materials held in archives – What we have – Where to find it• A way of sharing information with potential users about what our records contain
  35. 35. Description• No standard way to describe archives until late 20th century• Then: a flurry of descriptive standards – In Canada: Rules for Archival Description (RAD) – 1990 (revised 2008) – Internationally: International Standard for Archival Description (General) (ISAD(G)) - 1994
  36. 36. Archival description• Defined by the International Council on Archives as: “The creation of an accurate representation of each fonds and its component parts by the process of capturing, collating, analyzing and organizing any information that serves to identify archival material, and explain the context and records systems which produced it”
  37. 37. Key principles for archival description• Describe from the general to the specific• Contain information relevant to the unit of description• Do not repeat information unnecessarily• Arrangement defines description: once the material is arranged in a logical fashion, the description should be straightforward – Start with the fonds or collection level, then describe each series, with its associated files or items
  38. 38. Fonds IODE, Galt Chapter records Series Minutes Correspondence Other materialsMinute Book, Minute Book, Administrative Thank-you letters 1966-1969 1969-1975 correspondence Items Files
  39. 39. Textual layout of finding aidLevel of description Contents Possible numberFonds-level description Overview of entire fonds 2008.33Series 1 Description of minute books 2008.33/1Item 1 Description of minute book 1 2008.33/1/1Item 2 Description of minute book 2 2008.33/1/2Series 2 Description of correspondence 2008.33/2File 1 Description of admin. corresp. 2008.33/2/1File 2 Description of thank-you letters 2008.33/2/2Series 3 Overall description of ‘other 2008.33/3 materials’ In this example, the numbering reflects the hierarchy of the description.
  40. 40. Alternative finding aidLevel of description Contents Possible numberFonds-level description Overview of entire fonds 2008.33Series 1 Description of minute books 2008.33/1Series 2 Description of correspondence 2008.33/2Series 3 Overall description of ‘other 2008.33/3 materials’
  41. 41. Alternative finding aidLevel of description Contents Reference numberFonds-level description Overview of entire fonds 2008.33
  42. 42. Some core elements of descriptionFonds/Collection level Series/File/Item levelRepositoryTitle TitleName of creatorDates DatesSize SizeInformation about creatorDescription of materials Description of materialsRestrictions on accessReference number Reference numberCustodial history of the material These elements are common to most archival descriptive standards.
  43. 43. Descriptive standards• RAD and other archival description standards break down descriptions into a set of key elements• This helps archivists describe materials in a consistent way• …and helps users know what to expect from an archival description
  44. 44. RAD concentrates on describing fonds Information aboutArchival creator(s)description Information about records
  45. 45. The Series System• For certain types of records, particularly those of governments, it is easier to describe records at the level of series, rather than as a fonds• The creating body may change frequently (e.g. with government reorganizations), while the records continue to be created according to their original purpose
  46. 46. Series System entities Second creator First Thirdcreator creator Record series
  47. 47. Series System• Developed in Australia in 1960s and widely used by archives of all kinds there• In Canada it is mainly used to describe government records such as those held by the Archives of Ontario
  48. 48. Rules for Archival Description• First edition published in 1990• Last updated in 2008• Based on the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2, a library standard)• Maintained by the Canadian Committee on Archival Description, a committee of the Canadian Council of Archives
  49. 49. RAD Principles• P1.0 Archival description should be undertaken with attention to requirements for use• P2.0 The description of all archival material (e.g. fonds, series, collections and discrete items) should be integrated and proceed from a common set of rules
  50. 50. RAD Principles• P3.0 Respect des fonds is the basis of archival arrangement and description• P4.0 Creators of archival material must be described• P5.0 Description reflects arrangement
  51. 51. RAD Principles• P5.1 Levels of arrangement and description constitute a hierarchical system• P5.2 Descriptions should proceed from general to specific• P5.3 Information provided at each level of description must be appropriate to that level• P5.4 Relationships between levels of description must be clearly indicated
  52. 52. RAD areas1. Title2. Edition3. Class of material specific details4. Dates of creation5. Physical description6. Series area7. Archival description8. Notes9. Standard number
  53. 53. Important RAD areas1. Title2. Edition3. Class of material specific details4. Dates of creation5. Physical description6. Series area7. Archival description8. Notes9. Standard number
  54. 54. Title Area• 1.1B3 Title proper• Enter the name of the person, family, or corporate body responsible for the creation of the records, followed by the word fonds. If the unit being described is an artificially accumulated collection, use the word collection instead of fonds
  55. 55. Examples• Anthony Adamson and Marion MacRae fonds• Frederick Hagan fonds• Kingston General Hospital photograph collection• Proctor family fonds
  56. 56. Dates of creation• 1.4B Date• Give the date(s) of creation of the unit being described either as a single date, or range of dates (for inclusive dates and/or predominant dates). Always give the inclusive dates. When providing predominant dates, specify them as such, preceded by the word predominant.• If there is no date, provide an estimated date in square brackets. Do not use ‘n.d.’ or ‘undated’
  57. 57. Examples• 1890• 1934-1955• [ca. 1875]-1954• 1812-1903, predominant 1845-1867
  58. 58. Uncertain/probable dates[1867?] probable date[ca. 1867] approximate date[before 1867] terminal date[after 5 Jan. 1867] terminal date[1892 or 1893] one year or the other[between 1915 and use only for dates fewer1918] than 20 years apart[197-] decade certain[186-?] probable decade[17–] century certain[17–?] probable century
  59. 59. Physical description area• 1.5B• At all levels of description, record the extent of the unit being described by giving the number of physical units and their nature• Record all the different types of materials found, starting each on a new line• Use metric measurements
  60. 60. Examples• ca. 200 photographs• 50 maps• 21cm of textual records• 102 posters : silkscreen ; 60 x 90 cm, 40 x 60 cm and smaller
  61. 61. Archival description area• 1.7• This area contains the core of your archival description, including information on the creator(s) of the material and the nature of the material itself
  62. 62. Administrative history/Biographical sketch• 1.7B• Record in narrative form or as a chronology the main life events, activities, achievements and/or roles of the entity being described. This may include information on gender, nationality, family and religious or political affiliations. Wherever possible, supply dates as an integral component of the narrative description.
  63. 63. For organizations include:• Dates of founding and/or dissolution• Mandate/sphere of responsibility• Predecessor and successor bodies• Administrative relationships with other bodies• Administrative structure• Names of the chief officers• Other significant information
  64. 64. For individuals, include:• Place and dates of birth and death• Place(s) of residence• Occupation, education and activities• Names of family members
  65. 65. Custodial history• 1.7C• Use this field to record the changes of ownership of the archival materials, if known, since their creation• If the records were received directly from their creator, record this information under ‘Immediate source of acquisition’ (1.8B12)
  66. 66. Scope and content• 1.7D• Give information about the functions and/or kinds of activities generating the records, the period of time, the subject matter, and the geographical area to which they relate• Summarize the arrangement and structure of the records and the form that they take
  67. 67. Examples• Fonds consists of Anthony Richmonds records pertaining to his career as a scholar and includes his research files, professional files, manuscripts, as well as his personal files.• The collection consists of records of various private businesses which operated in Hastings County, Ontario, which were gathered as a unit by the Hastings County Historical Society. Various kinds of activities and occupations are represented: collection of duties; public utilities; loan; general merchants; grocery; temperance; insurance; engineering; surveying; railway…
  68. 68. Notes area
  69. 69. Physical condition• 1.8B9a• Note anything about the physical condition of the material being described that affects the clarity or legibility of the records• Also consider noting if the material has suffered mould damage, even if it does not affect the legibility of the records, as a warning to potential users.
  70. 70. Immediate source of acquisition• 1.8B12• Enter information about the donor from whom you obtained the records• Only information about the holder of the record immediately prior to their transfer to the archives should be recorded in this field
  71. 71. Restrictions on access• 1.8B16a• Enter information about any applicable restrictions on researchers ability to view the material
  72. 72. Examples• Open• Access restrictions apply to Series 5, Restricted Originals.• Several files and photographs within the collection have restricted access due to the information they contain. Access to brittle documents may be restricted.
  73. 73. Access points• Act as index terms for your description• Usually in a standardized form (e.g. names) – Or taken from a predetermined list of terms (e.g. places, subjects)
  74. 74. Forming names in RAD (Section 22)• Surname comes first – Fisher, John• Names used by person form the heading, other names explained in brackets – Macdonald, H. Ian (Hugh Ian)• RAD goes into detail about how to form name headings for more complex examples
  76. 76. Need to think about…• User demand• Time available• Overall control of several groups vs. detailed description of one group of records• Recording your actions• MPLP: More Product Less Process
  77. 77. MPLP“There is sometimes an unfortunate tendencyon the part of processing archivists to use thepreparation of [finding aids] as an excuse todemonstrate their own knowledge (of bothcollection and historical context) and writingability.”• Greene, Mark A. & Dennis Meissner (2005) ‘More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing’ American Archivist 68: 208– 263
  78. 78. MPLP“The archivist’s job is simply to represent thematerials sufficient to affording acceptableaccess. Let’s not waste either our own valuabletime researching and writing lengthynarratives, or our researchers’ time in forcingthem to read more verbiage than necessary.”• Greene, Mark A. & Dennis Meissner (2005) ‘More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing’ American Archivist 68: 208– 263
  79. 79. ARCHEION
  80. 80. Archeion• Ontario’s archive information network• Established in 1999• Major upgrade in 2011 with a move of all existing information to ICA-AtoM software• Holds over 8,000 fonds- and collection-level descriptions from more than 70 institutions across Ontario• One of a network of provincial systems feeding in to ArchivesCanada
  81. 81. Archeion’s structure Archival institutions Online displayArchival descriptions Record creators
  82. 82. Standards-based records• ISDIAH – International Standard for Describing Archival institutions Institutions with Archival Holdings• RAD – Rules for Archival Archival descriptions Description• ISAAR-CPF – International Standard for Archival Authority Records - Record creators Corporate, Personal, Family
  83. 83. Some tips for Archeion descriptions• Be concise• Put key information at the start of longer text fields, particularly: – Biographical/administrative history – Scope and content• Remember you are writing for a global audience (context!) – The reader is (probably) not in your reading room
  84. 84. Remember In your first sentence… world-wide context…• Include the name, birth and death dates, major occupation, and geographical area of the creator(s) in the biographical sketch/ administrative history. – Adam Lindsay Webb (b. 1879) was a physician who practised in Brighton, Ontario.• Give a single sentence overview in the scope and content note. – Fonds consists of photocopies of records created and received by A.L. Webb, primarily relating to his medical practice.
  85. 85. If in doubt…a) Check the Archeion manualb) See how other archivists have described similar materials on Archeion already and use their descriptions and access points as a modelc) Consult RADd) Contact the Archeion Coordinator if you get completely stuck!
  86. 86. Coordinator contact details• Amanda Hill•• 416-929-4447