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It has been a productive summer in the AMNH Research Library: 454 collections cataloged in the Photographic Print collection, and 461 collections for the Photographic Slides. That’s over 900 collections recorded for a single term! To our benefit, we did start with some pretty solid inventories, but verifying the data and assessing risk is no small task. Many improvements were made such as adding access points to the subject and contributor fields. Titles, dates, and summaries were revised to be made DACS-compliant. There was even time to do authority work on personal and corporate names. In twelve weeks, I think we accomplished a lot.
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Hello there friends and neighbors. It seems like its only been a blink of an eye since I first started my experience here but alas this is my farewell of sorts. Thanks goes out to my partner/peers Daniel, Joanna, and Phoebe for being great sounding boards and solid people to work with. It has been a whirlwind of exciting discoveries for me and I would like to offer special thanks to Rebecca, Barbara, Iris, and Tom for their patience, insight and encouragement. I believe I will be leaving here with knowledge and understanding that will benefit me and hopefully others. Ironically I am here on my last day trying to tie up loose ends on the collection for the Department of Preparations (right where I started). What started out as a simple paige box is now a galaxy of historical records spreading out to other related materials and active use. I hope others take the time to explore this collection and treasure the marvels that it holds.
Provenance is often the key element that allows a collection to be useful, understandable and relevant to many researchers. The order and arrangement of the archived material reflects the origin of the source materials and the judgment of the primary archivist. The provenance can act as a marker or guideline to the relationship of the materials to the subject matter and how the collection should be experienced especially if there are no finding aids.
Well ladies and gentlemen that brings us to our current issue, dare I say dilemma. I think our little photographic friend here is lost. I discovered our friend filed under “Asiatic Halls” and although I am fine with him being in his current home, due to my faith in provenance, my archivist intuition is telling me something different. No I don’t have a badge but you don’t have to be a detective to spot the signs of (possible) dissociation. Dissociation is far from a victimless crime. It can set into motion a chain of events that could be a researchers worst nightmare.
Wait!!! This just in: Through the paper trail of correspondence we have indeed identified our little friend as a South Asian “Gibbon”. In a letter from Arthur Vernay to then Director Sherwood, Vernay refers to the gibbon as a “vital specimen for the Asiatic Hall”. So much for intuition, mystery solved. Provenance you’ve done it again!
In today’s episode of “Inside the AMNH” our explorer comes across a dusty acid free folder at the back of a dusty Paige box.
“What’s in that dusty acid free folder ?“ the archivist said.
“Why what do you know, it’s a script!”
That’s right our guide couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw that inside the folder named “Spice Exhibit” was a radio drama style script from the perspective of Marco Polo and other explorers. The story and the exhibit tell of the early spice trading routes and how they were regarded as “more precious than gold!” Also a part of today’s adventure our guide had his first encounter with a mysterious Fata Morgana in the form of “Crocker Land”. I don’t want to spoil that story just yet so you should do some investigating of your own and we’ll compare notes later.
The Archival gods have smiled upon me on this day in the form of an acid free box full of treasures. At present I have been set with the task of creating a finding aid for these long lost items but its has been a stop and go process because of what I keep finding. The collection in question is from the Department of Preparation and Installation and I must tell you they lived up to their name. The correspondence of requests and affirmations are so specific that I can testify that in the creation of the North American Mammal Hall no detail was left to chance. Of course the exhibits speak for themselves but the letters of correspondence set the tone for a back story of formal yet gracious language. For me the letters have been a little window to the past that have helped me to appreciate the efforts of James L. Clark and George Sherwood in a new way. The other pearl of the day came to me as a glass mounted slide that I uncovered among some photographs. The slide is of an early set up for a wildlife diorama. Multiple letters were sent to experts in several fields to make sure every aspect of these mounted depictions were authentic. Let me know if you can find a blade of grass out of place!
TagsAinu AMNH library catalog Anthropology Archives Archbold Archival Arrangement archives Authority Names CAT Cataloging CLIR 2010 clir 2012 Correspondence Crocker Land Department of Preparation and Installation Department Records EAC-CPF expeditions Fall 2011 Field Notes Finding Aid finding aids Hayden Planetarium Herpetology Archives hidden connections IMLS LARA linked data Mammalogy Archives Manuscript Collection Museum History Non-Curatorial Field Notes Ornithology Archives Paleontology Archives Phase 2 photographs Photo Print Collection Processing Research Library Risk Assessment Slide Collection Spring 2011 Spring 2012 Summer 2011 Summer 2012 T. Don Carter
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