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Creating Finding Aids Sara Casper Government Records Archivist South Dakota State Archives.

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Presentation on theme: "Creating Finding Aids Sara Casper Government Records Archivist South Dakota State Archives."— Presentation transcript:

1 Creating Finding Aids Sara Casper Government Records Archivist South Dakota State Archives

2 In this presentation… What is an archival finding aid? Why should I create finding aids? Identifying record series Important finding aid sections/elements Tips for writing and using finding aids Other resources

3 What is a finding aid? “A tool that facilitates discovery of information within a collection of records.” “A description of records that gives the repository physical and intellectual control over the materials and that assists users to gain access to and understand the materials.”

4 Why create finding aids? Makes materials inside a collection more accessible to researchers and staff Provides context for collection Accountability – Keeps track of provenance, changes to the collection during processing, etc. Versatile – Works for any size or type of collection – Can be published online, made available in research room, kept on desk or in file drawer, ed

5 Arrangement Description follows physical arrangement, or processing, of the collection

6 Arrangement – Step One What is in the collection? Look through the records and take detailed notes – Preservation concerns – Types of materials – Subjects/items of interest – Arrangement

7 Arrangement – Step Two Identify Record Series – Natural Groupings – Original Filing System Do not attempt to write a finding aid without understanding the collection hierarchy

8 Un-arranged Collection Newspaper Clippings, Correspondence, Jan-Mar 1935 Diary 1933 Newspaper Clippings, Diary 1934 Financial Ledger, Vol. C Correspondence, Oct-Dec 1935 Correspondence, Jan-Mar Photographs, May Day, 1939 Diary 1932 Newspaper Clippings, Financial Ledger, Vol. B Correspondence, Oct-Dec 1934 Correspondence, Jul-Sept 1935 Financial Ledger, Vol. A Correspondence, Apr-Jun Photographs, Company Picnic, 1946

9 Collection Hierarchy Series I: Correspondence, Oct Mar 1936 (arranged chronologically) Series II: Diaries, (arranged chronologically) Series III: Financial Ledgers (arranged alphabetically by volume) Series IV: Newspaper Clippings, (arranged chronologically) Series V: Photographs, – Sub-series/File 1: May Day, 1939 – Sub-series/File 2: Company Picnic, 1946

10 Arrangement – Step Three Box and folder records – Acid-free archival enclosures – Label in pencil – Deal with preservation concerns, keep track of activities

11 Archival Principles Provenance and Original Order “The records created, assembled, accumulated, and/or maintained and used by an organization or individual must be kept together in their original order, if such order exists or has been maintained…[and] ought not be mixed or combined with the records of another individual or corporate body.”

12 Description – Finding Aid Elements Every collection is different - not all elements will be used for every collection Tailor description to suit the size, importance, and complexity of each collection

13 Archival Description = Nesting Dolls Collection Sub-series Sub-sub- series File Item Series

14 Title Page Name of Collection Accession/Catalog/ Collection Numbers Dates Name/Location of Repository Name of Finding Aid Author Date of Creation

15 Copyright Notice Standard Notice Places responsibility for determining copyright restrictions on the researcher

16 Privacy/Restriction Notes Are there any access or use restrictions for the collection?

17 Administrative History/ Biographical Note Give a brief history of the individual or organization that created the collection Who is the individual? How do they fit in with larger historical themes or events? Provide context for collection

18 Scope and Content What does the collection contain? Collection-level Extent Dates Material & Document Types Arrangement - series

19 Provenance Where did the collection come from? How did it get to the archives? Curatorial history

20 Processing Notes Document all processing activities, when they happened, and why. Conservation treatments? Materials removed? Re-housing? Organizational scheme imposed?

21 Series Descriptions Content description for each series and sub- series Restrictions Arrangement

22 Container List Box/Folder list Include dates as much as possible

23 Other Elements Preferred Citation for Materials Languages Related Collections/Materials Library of Congress Subject Headings

24 Rules of Thumb Do not describe to the item-level unless you can count the items on your hands Always document any processing or preservation actions Be as brief as you can – a 1,000 page finding aid is worthless Provide access to the finding aids

25 Using finding aids What information are you looking for? Who would have kept that information? In what formats? Translate inquiry into record series

26 Using finding aids Word documents – Keyword searches possible within finding aid (Ctrl F) and between finding aids (right click folder, search)

27 Additional Resources Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DAACS) (Society of American Archivists, 2007) Kathleen D. Roe, Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts (Society of American Archivists, 2005)

28 Additional Resources David W. Carmicheal, Organizing Archival Records: A Practical Method of Arrangement and Description for Small Archives (Altmira Press, 2003) Make friends with an archivist

29 Examples Example I Example II Example III


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