Past Perfect – objects vs. archive

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    • #133179

      In past perfect how do you determine if an item needs to go into the “object” or “archive” section. Is it necessary to use the archive section, or can we enter all items into the object section? Do you put a label before the object ID such as ART 2012.30?

    • #133192
      Ron Kley

      In almost 30 years of working with computerized collection records (in PastPerfect and a variety of other databases) I’ve always found it convenient to lump historical artifacts, archival materials, fine arts, archaeological materials and even natural science specimens into a single searchable file, table or module (e.g. the PastPerfect “objects” module). It greatly facilitates across-the-board queries in most instances. Most catalog entries, in most museum collections, really don’t require the availability of highly specialized data fields beyond those needed for more generic objects. If you work in an institution where you, or somebody, actually has the information or expertise required to fill in dozens or scores of discipline-specific data fields then your situation may be different.

    • #133191
      Sharon McCullar

      In my experience, it has been a little difficult to learn how to use (and remember to use) the different catalogs in PastPerfect. My predecessors used Objects for all kinds of collection materials. Our Archivist and I have found that the Archives and Photo catalogs are very useful as they contain fields specific to describing and organizing archival collections and photos. Our basic criteria is that if it is a single document of some kind or a collection of Archival material the record resides in Archives, a photograph record resides in Photos and books in our reference library has thier record in Library catalog. For most records, we don’t fully utilize all the fields available.
      All 3-dimensional items records reside in Objects. There are some exceptions of course. Now that we are used to how the search feature works, we have few problems using and searching the different catalogs.

    • #133190
      Kirsten J Reinhardt

      Any suggestions for the most eficient way to export collections data now trapped in the unsupported Willoughby iO CM database? thanks in advance for any suggestions and/or insight.

    • #133189
      Kirsten J Reinhardt

      Any suggestions for the most eficient way to export collections data now trapped in the unsupported Willoughby iO CM database? thanks in advance for any suggestions and/or insight.

    • #133188

      We have different “libraries” for our items – manuscripts, books, pamphlets, photographs, artifacts, etc. We can receive a single donation and it will include one, some or all of the above. We accession them all together under the one donor, then as they get cataloged they are entered into their different “libraries” – books and pamphlets into library, manuscripts into archives, photographs into photos and artifacts into objects. Then they are stored separately. The left side of the “accession includes” box indicates which “library” an item was entered into – which helps us to see how a single donation was separated out for individual care needs. Does that make sense?

    • #133187

      Assuming an archival candidate is general a collection of paper based objects, I take the view that an intra-relationship of all objects, within a archive must exist. A “Work Order” as a 2D item is, in my view, an Object unless it is part of sequential grouping of “Work Orders” relating to the same event. This archival grouping may, in turn, be part of a greater collection – Joe’s Life History – but then on an inter-relational bases. A single document will in most cases be cataloged as an Object. The content of the document would define it’s purpose relative to the Lexicon and in turn, its source, to the Collection.

    • #133186

      Thank you! All of these posts have been very helpful! I do have an add on question though: We have a big cabinet full of family histories that people have written down about their families. Some of these are in the form of emails, letters, etc., but all of them have been printed off and put into their own file folder. Would you put THAT in archival? I don’t really think of it as an object… or would you just not put those into the searchable past perfect data base?

    • #133185

      Brittney – I would highly suggest having these records available as searchable. In fact, each would seem an ideal candidate as a archive since the the relationship (ahem) is family. This is certainly open to suggestions from the community but my recommendations would be to initiate a Contact record for the primary contributor. Then there would seem to be two options. 1) Establish an Accession for the individual family (cumlative) history followed by an Archive Catalog records for “surname” records and “Containers” for events; 2)and possibly offering more flexibility – Establish an Accession record for each Family (surname)File, correlate documents and Catalog accordingly….. The latter would seem to facilate the addition of subsequent data to each family branch. Excuse the long & windy narritive.

    • #133184
      Sharon F. Corey

      Brittany, I was struggling with this same issue. Then in a PastPerfect Cataloging Collections Webinar this past May, Brian Gomez said this:

      “Archives is unpublished work, Library is published work, Object is three dimensional, and Photo is two-demensional.”

      The PastPerfect Newsletters are very helpful and that is how you find out about upcoming Training Webinars. You can sign up to receive the newsletter here: .

      You can also find out about upcoming PastPerfect Webinars on their Facebook site at: .

      And if all else fails you can always call or email them: .

      They are always very willing to help with any questions or concerns that you may have.

    • #133183

      Different types of institutions will view this differently. As a historic house museum, we utilize all four categories, as described by Sharon. The quote by Brian Gomez gives the definition in fact included in the Past Perfect reference book (from version 3.5). This separation into categories helps us know where to find the actual item, as the categories are stored separately. If your collection is paper-based only, you conceivably could use only one category.

    • #133182
      Alicia L Woods

      I will agree that the separation of categories appears and at times is a bit cumbersome to work with. However when I do a search for something I do it globally. Using the Research tab from the main screen and chosing All Catalogs your are given a wide variety in search options that will search all 4 categories at one time for you and provide you a list at the bottom of all objects found that meet your crieria. I use this more than I use any other Search or Find function and more often than not – had I done it a different way I would have missed potentially relevant items in our collections.

    • #133181

      Brittany – In my earlier reply, I failed to mention one thing. In our accessioning, we differentiate in PP between the items entering the Permanent Collection and other items we want to book-keep…..particularly for research only. It would seem your family files fall in the latter and you might think about setting up a unique Accession Catagory. This would give you all the PP capabilities but fall outside your Collections Management Policy and can be unique in reports and searches.
      Re Bian Gomez quote…in our cataloging, items enter the Collection as artifacts but are not part of an archive and are 2D in nature – Maps, Checklists, Letters, etc. We will view these as Objects. Storage will be based on type of material (paper) and location on intent of the Object i.e. Research Library.

    • #133180
      Mary Ames Booker

      I’ve used Past Perfect for many years and find the different catalogs useful. After all, the database will search them all once you learn how to use the program. I used Objects for 3-D items/artifacts, Archives for mainly unpublished works (letters, diaries, newsletters, personal papers, maps etc.) and put published books and magazines in Library. We have a small library. All photographs and photo albums go in Photos as well media (tapes, DVD, CD-Rom, etc.). Everything begins at the Accession level though. Well, except for the digitized oral histories.

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