Housing Decisions

A new academic year means a new set of graduate students at Special Collections—at least for the most part. After spending two semesters working as graduate assistant, I am back for another year, this time as ARL/SAA Mosaic fellow. My job will be similar in many ways, except that I will be expected to move through assignments at a faster pace and my day will be split between working on projects and attending meetings, much like many of the department archivists are expected to do. Since this internship is meant to provide a taste of what the profession is really like, I welcome the challenge.

My first project is an addition to the De la Torre collection, which documents the family and their involvement with the Cristero movement in Mexico at the beginning of the 20th century.

This collection’s very special family photos will soon be digitized and added to a virtual exhibit currently under development. The De la Torre addition is about 1.5 linear feet and counts with over 50 photographs, most of them black and white. Consulting with Ritzenthaler’s Photographs: Archival Care and Management in regards to housing guidelines and found that I should consider the following:

  • Condition, format, size and value of the photographs
  • Type and amount of use and handling they receive
  • Space, financial, and staff resources
  • Need to maintain original archival order

Hanni pic2Since about half of the photographs are in an album, those will stay together; the loose photographs will remain as they were originally, sorted based on family groupings, following the most common protocol. They will all be stored vertically, including the few larger ones that are mounted on cardboard. To minimize curling, I’ll make sure not to place too many photos in the same envelope, but since they are all in very good condition, I will forgo the use of Mylar. Due to the constraints in time, I will describe them at the series level, based on the family grouping they portray. This ought to make it easy for both researchers and family members wanting to access the collection to reminisce. Once that is done, the next step will be to digitize.