Re: Best Practice for Organizing Donations of Photocopied Originals

Janice Klein

I would highly recommend the AASLH on-line workshop Archives 101. It provides excellent information about what-is-archival and what-isn’t, as well as basic vocabulary and techniques. The 2012-2013 schedule is not yet on the AASLH website, but the workshop is given at least twice a year.

The original question has a wide range of “it depends” answers. From the purely “historical” archival perspective there is no value in keeping photocopies of original documents when the original is in another repository for anything but the kind of subject files described by other responders. However, from the perspective of institutional archives or collections records, the photocopy made indeed have a value. As an example of the first, photocopies of documents or articles used by an exhibit developer may be valuable in understanding the thinking behind a particular exhibit (wouldn’t we all like to know what the curators working on the Enola Gay exhibit at the Smithsonian were reading?) and thus be worth keeping as part of the institution’s exhibition archives. If the photocopied material relates to a particular collections object then the photocopy would be useful to keep in the accession file or with other collections records (which I guess is a variation on the subject file use, but “filed” by related artifact, rather than subject matter).