I'm posting this on behalf of our archival volunteer Caitlin Stopper.
As an intern that is currently working towards an MA in American History at Rutgers-Camden, the archiving world is new to me. Working with Willhem Echevarria in the archives department at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania has been invaluable in helping me to broaden my education, yet focus my career interests. Our current project, Albert M. Greenfield Papers (Collection 1959), is fairly straightforward; re-house and re-number previously archived folders and create a new finding aid, but the project is not without its roadblocks or frustrations.
The record cartons that previously housed Albert Greenfield’s filed papers left the contents vulnerable to tears, creases and general deterioration. Willhem and I are carefully examining and reorienting the contents of tens of thousands of folders, and over-sized items are being removed. Each of these over-sized items will receive their own custom folder and filed separately.
The way in which some items are organized is puzzling to us, and the original finding aid does little to cast some light on the issue. Many items were found in folders labeled “correspondence” that were unrelated to correspondence such as newspaper clippings and brochures. There are also curiously labeled folders that contain items that are unrelated to the folder title. The new finding aid that Willhem and I will create once the re-housing portion of the project is completed will be more researcher-friendly. Researchers that are currently working with this collection may have concerns about the new location of particular items, but rest-assured, there will be a cross-reference made between old and new box numbers.
A “More Product, Less Process” approach to archiving this particular collection has certainly not meant a minimal amount of work - Greenfield’s collection originally filled 547 boxes and is now housed in approximately 1,200 letter-sized archival boxes. Our work has certainly been cut out for us! I began working on the Greenfield project back in November while Willhem was on leave and found myself overwhelmed with the sheer amount of boxes whose contents needed to be re-archived. Upon Willhem’s return, we streamlined my modus operandi into an even more efficient method of tackling the task at hand. Two sets of hands have certainly proved to be better than one. The Albert M. Greenfield Papers online finding aid will be available to researchers and the public at the end of February.