Progress Notes: Where We Stand on
The Personal and Political Papers of Barry M Goldwater
Linda Whitaker, CA
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.)
Collection Vital Statistics (after initial appraisal and weeding)
|Total Collection||1000+ linear feet|
|Personal and Political Series||150 linear (85% processed)|
|Legislative Files||375 linear feet (0% processed)|
|1964 Presidential Campaign||18 linear feet (50% processed, signficant gaps in the record)|
|Media Files||200+ linear feet (inventoried)|
|Artifacts & Memorabilia||150+ feet (inventoried)|
75 linear feet, now added to AHF library and ASU Gov Docs holdings
Appraisal and processing began mid January, 2005. Due to high research interest in this collection, we thought serial updates might help inform prospective users and colleagues working with congressional papers on some of the issues and decisions encountered as we work with the material. Note to researchers: Equal access to the Goldwater papers, processed and un-processed is a commitment and priority. We may not be able to locate every document, but we will make every attempt to search and pull requested material. Further, we learn a lot more from you than you do from us!
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.
No one talks enough about gaining physical control. Without it, intellectual control is impossible. This required shifting and shelving boxes, stacking boxes into series and sub-series, and moving all artifacts and memorabilia to offsite storage until they could be fully appraised. We attempted to compare box labels and contents with inventory sheets. Eventually, we gave up. All the inventory sheets in the world wouldn’t help if we couldn’t make sense of the arrangement scheme or the various notations on the boxes.
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
Staff: 1 archivist, 1 student