Day 11: Collections Processing

Big day! I started my three week stint in processing and was introduced to my new project. First, however, I came in half an hour early so I could get in my Conservation Lab fix. I removed prints from their mats and numbered them. I find it relaxing and sometimes humorous. Plus, I get to borrow Katie’s awesome microspatula!

Next, I actually got to help with Monday’s big intake. All of the acquisitions from the previous week are set out on a counter and the archivists review the accession folders, Deed of Gift agreements, and the contents of the donation. Here’s what today’s haul looked like.

Acquisition Intake

It took six of us to get through today’s acquisitions. L-R: Christy, Jay, Ryan, and Brandon (my boss – he loves me).


Each collection gets assigned a catalog number that begins with an abbreviation for library, manuscript, photograph, or audiovisual. Then it gets a color designation depending  on the complexity and sensitivity of the content. Below is an example of the labels. Remember, anytime you want to see a picture full-size, just click on it.

Catalog stickers

Green means straightforward with slight chance of sensitivity. I’ll have to get back to you with what color represents the most sensitive and the most complex materials.

Next, Collection Care brought up all 17 boxes of the Hugh B. Brown Family Papers. They were a nice, cool 55 deg! I am already in love with this collection. The first two boxes are all letters, photos, diaries, and notebooks from the life of the Browns’ son Hugh C. He was a flyer in the Royal Air Force during WWII. Pilot Officer Brown, just like in the movie Mrs. Miniver. However, the love letters of his sweetheart, Gwen, went unanswered in 1942 when he was shot down.

Brown Family Papers

All 17 boxes of the Brown Family Papers waiting to be processed! Aren’t they great?

I started out by going through each box and taking notes about the contents. Then, I went downstairs to reference and researched the background of Hugh and his wife, Zina. I’ll need this information when I write the biography portion of the finding aid, but it also helps me perceive an order to his life and, consequently, to his papers. I plan on photographing a special item, or two, each day.

I was worried about starting out in collections after having such great experiences in Conservation and Reference, but this material is so full of treasures, it needs to be prepared for access and has been awaiting its debut for 20 years! I am so fortunate to be helping to prepare it for patrons.

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