Today Becca and I ventured up to Mammalogy to continue the brainstorming process about how to assign location numbers to the collections. While Mammalogy’s archive was the site for the Museum’s original library, today it can best be described as “complicated.” On the first floor, the original shelves were taken out and filing cabinets were inserted in their place. Each bay is separated by the original metal work. In addition, many filing cabinets have archival boxes stored on top of them. The first floor houses the reprints collection, field notes, Archbold correspondence and expedition photographs, Department correspondence, Sydney Anderson’s papers and Karl F. Koopman’s unprocessed files. The correspondence files and reprints are arranged well within the filing cabinets, but the Anderson papers, while collected together, can’t really be described as truly processed in the archival sense. Mr. Koopman’s papers have yet to be processed, from conference badges to college yearbook.

The second floor setup is similar, but represents a more extreme version. This is where we find the visual materials related to the many expeditions the Department has been involved with. Like many New York City residents the collections have roommates. The materials are often organized separately, but live together in one drawer. This situation makes it difficult to completely ascertain where a properly labeled collection would begin and end. Prints taken by different photographers from the same expedition are organized separately, but if fully processed, would they be part of the same collection? The collections are not unprocessed, but they are not processed either.

This situation led us to the conclusion that it would be easier to number the bays rather than the collections themselves. In most circumstances this would not be recommended, but here it works as a temporary solution. The next step in the process will be to actually label the sections as unobtrusively as possible, working with the Mammalogy Department to get their official buy-in. We discussed whether to use labels on cardboard, wire and other office supplies to develop a professional look.

As today is my last day at AMNH, I wanted to say thank you Becca, Iris, Barbara, Beth, Joanna and Michael for their support and partnership. I’ll miss thoroughly scrubbing my fingernails at the end of each day and the vague smell of formaldehyde. The Museum is truly a magical place and I am grateful to have contributed in my small way.

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