Report #1: Physical Control
From time to time, I want to post our progress on the processing of the Barry M Goldwater papers. I keep a journal because this collection is a case study. It is also an opportunity to test archival practice and theory. (More on this in later reports.)
This collection presents many challenges on many levels. For all practical purposes this collection remained largely unprocessed through the years. Although inventory sheets had been created, locating various correspondence, photos and legislative documents was difficult. The collection also had been moved several times, boxes re-numbered, and numerous additions super-imposed over existing material. The additions were far larger than the original donation which had been partly processed. Earlier processing attempts resulted in series headings variously labeled “C, “W,” “SP,” “M,” “I,” “II,” and “III.” Nothing conformed to the Karen Paul’s Records Management Handbook for US Senators…or to contemporary arrangement and descriptions standards.
Space is a both a chronic and acute issue for most repositories. Physical control was complicated by years of accumulations superimposed around the Goldwater papers. Like an archeological dig, layers of non-related material had to be excavated before all the Goldwater material could be isolated and identified. Many unidentified photos had been removed from folders and placed among general photograph collections. A number of documents had been removed for previous exhibits and not returned to folders and boxes. Some important documents had been removed from original folders placed elsewhere in our holdings. These were discovered accidentally but alerted us to the fact that we could find Goldwater papers almost anywhere.
Initial time spent: 8 weeks