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Archival Processing Guide

Archival Processing Guide

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Published by librarchivist
This archival processing guide is combined with the Archivist's Toolkit user guide. Some content reprinted with permission from Kelley Bachli in the Department of Special Collections at UCLA.
This archival processing guide is combined with the Archivist's Toolkit user guide. Some content reprinted with permission from Kelley Bachli in the Department of Special Collections at UCLA.

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Published by: librarchivist on Oct 17, 2010
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09/24/2011

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 Archival Processing Guide forStaff, Students, and Volunteers
Special Collections & ArchivesZ. Smith Reynolds LibraryWake Forest UniversityWinston-Salem, NC
 
\\acad1\ZSR\SpecialCollections\Administrative Files\ProcessingMay 20101
Archival Processing:A Guide for Staff, Students, and Volunteers
Introduction
This booklet will guide you through the basics of archival processing in the department of Special Collections & Archives at Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest. The guide is brokeninto distinct sections to help you understand your role in the making archival resourcesavailable to researchers and students.We begin with an overview of basic concepts in archival processing, followed by accessioning,re-housing and inventory, formal description, arrangement, and creating the finding aid. Theguide also includes instructions for using

used at ZSR (and many other libraries) for recording information about archival materials.
Contents
I.
 
Overview 2a.
 
What is Processing?b.
 
What Is a Finding Aid?c.
 
Basic Principles of Archival DescriptionII.
 
Accessioning 4III.
 
Pre-Processing: Inventory and Re-Housing 13IV.
 
Archival Processing 15a.
 
Survey and Processing Planb.
 
Organization and Arrangementc.
 
DescriptionV.
 
Appendices 42a.
 
Appendix A: Additional Resourcesb.
 
Appendix B: Glossary of Termsc.
 
Appendix C: Sample Finding Aid, Front Matter
 
\\acad1\ZSR\SpecialCollections\Administrative Files\ProcessingMay 20102
Overview of Archival Processing
What is Processing?
In order for a collection to be made available to research, the archivist gathers and analyzesinformation about the collection, organizes and arranges its contents, and creates finding aidsin order for the user to discover relevant materials.
Processing
is the term used to encompassall of the work required to make collections available and accessible for research.There are three main parts of processing:
 
Gathering and analyzing information about the collection
 
Organizing and arranging the collection
 
Creating finding aids to allow access to the collection
What Is a Finding Aid?
A finding aid is a written description of archival materials. Finding aids are what enableresearchers to discover the nature and contents of a collection. They are made available

typicallyconsist of two parts:
front matter
and a
container list
.
Front matter
outlines the nature of a collection. Essential parts of the front matter include:location of collection, collection number and name, name of creator(s), date range, size (extent),abstract, acquisition information, biographical/historical information, scope and content notes,arrangement, access and use restrictions, and subjects indexed. Most front matter is createdafter the arrangement and description of a collection. When doing processing, it is important toconsider the front matter, because you may come across information that will be helpful whendescribing the collection as a whole.The
container list
is a detailed inventory of a collection. A collection may be described at thebox level, folder level, and rarely, at the item level. Your processing plan will determine thelevel of description to be used. Descriptions in a container list should be clear and concise.Folder level description typically consists of the box and folder number, a brief description/title

 
Basic Principles of Archival Description
 
Provenance
o
 
Provenance tells the history of ownership. It refers to the origin of an item orcollection, identifying the original owner or creator, as well as subsequentowners and creators.

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