Re: organizing an archive

Susan Knoer

Congratulations on taking the first step!

You’re probably a good candidate for a Preservation Assistance Grant, which is sum up to 6,000 that can let you get a consultant or supplies you already know you need. Best part is that no match is required, so it’s a great place to start.

Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions –

Description. Preservation Assistance Grants help small and mid-sized institutions —such as libraries, museums, historical societies, archival repositories, cultural …

This is probably more info than you need right now, but it’s a great resource. It’s cross-referenced like mad, so don’t get confused by all the “also see” entries, but it’s terrific for preservation info.

Museum Handbook – National Park Service
a reference guide on how to manage, preserve, document, access and use museum collections.

Ron’s right, do some serious reading before you try try retrospective work. Archives are organized by record groups from donors, which is information you may not have at this point. That’s true of a lot of older and larger archives, too. You may want to treat what you have now as an artificial collection, one that you created, and treat future ones in a different manner.

There are a lot of places you can turn to – you’re not the only one with this issue, museums, businesses, libraries, governments, universities all have records to keep, so ask around. Try library programs at the colleges, there are often friendly people there, and often interns looking for placements. Talk to your state archives and see what they have to offer. Check with the Society of American Archivists for webinars and workshops. We keep a rolling list here, and C2C has some coming up.

Have you been in touch with the Society of Southwest Archivists? They can probably point you to local resources and experts.

Starting from Scratch: How to Create a Museum Archives
(the principles are the same, and it’s a decent overview)

Archivist’s Primer from the Getty Information Institute

Best of luck, and let us know how it goes.