Reply To: physical arrangement of photographs in manuscript collections

Lea Edgar

Hi Charlene,

Okay, I just want to make sure I understand the arrangement you decided on. Are you saying you left the photographs in situ, or basically as you found them in the files (binders), but housed them in a mylar sleeve to offer them some protection against the surrounding papers? Or did you separate them physically into another box/folder?

The main thing I personally do is to separate out photographs from documents in general. However, I do try to maintain the original order, or at least reflect it, by putting a form or card in its original place saying that it has been removed and its new location. You can create a separate series (or sub-series, whichever is appropriate) for “photographs” if that makes sense with how the creator filed the records, or just store all the photographs in the sleeves/folders/boxes best suited to their specific preservation concerns and put in removal slips (a physical arrangement rather than an intellectual one). That way, when a researcher is going through the files and finds the spot where the photograph used to be, they will be aware of it and can go and find it in the separate location. Does that make sense?

It is always appropriate to separate out fragile materials (in my mind anyway) when preservation is a concern. However, I am always sure to document whenever I change the original order so that, in theory, it can be reconstructed. I hope that makes sense. Follow your instincts and document all decisions. There really is no “right way” of doing it. I hope that helps!

Lea Edgar
Leonard G. McCann Archives
Vancouver Maritime Museum