Kingsport: An Archivist’s Tools

An archivist can become pretty attached to his or her favorite tools. I have been known to wax philosophic on this topic before and here I go again!

Remember this post? Ahh, Katie’s microspatula. Sweet memories. While processing the Muriel C. Spoden Collection, I became dependent upon a certain pencil. This pencil was my faithful companion while processing and labeling all 88 boxes worth of folders. It could pinpoint extent dates with accuracy. It could record box and folder numbers like no other writing implement. It could catalog titles and collection numbers better than any other No. 2 I tried. Here is a before and after picture of my beloved pencil.

I add one of these awesome Society of Tennessee Archivists pencils to my collection when I attend their annual fall conferences.

That was one faithful pencil. I get choked up thinking about it. It won’t fit in the pencil sharpener anymore so it has retirement status now. Pencil Emeritus! A timely and fitting name.

Recently, while processing the Business and Professional Women’s Club Collection, I was doing some work on one of those dastardly scrapbooks with the sticky-backed pages. The manufacturers of these photo albums called them “magnetic,” but let it be known, there are no magnets involved. They are backed with nasty, acid-leeching, photo-devouring glue. Get thee behind me!! Anyway, by the end of the project, our lovely microspatula had seen better days. It sacrificed its figure as I scraped off photos of women in their bouffant hairdos. It volunteered its tencile strength as I shimmied off the backs of minutes and press releases. It gave up the ghost as I removed certificates and commendations.

What once was perfectly flat and true now looks like it served up ice cream that was too frozen to scoop.

So, remember, the next time you are perusing historic archival documents that have been lovingly cared for by a trusted professional, know that a faithful archival tool may have sacrificed its life for your research endeavors.

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One Response to Kingsport: An Archivist’s Tools

  1. kathleen fueston says:

    So, can I say that I sacrificed my figure for my kids? Still working on getting it back :0) I DO remember the first article when you were here in SLC. You should begin a special memory box for such faithful tools!

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