This could become a web of minutiae, which I suppose, is a the basic foundation of research anyway, but I am determined to keep the old Cub Scout Motto in mind – KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly).
According to Organizing & Preserving Your Heirloom Documents (Kathleen Scott Sturdevant) I am moving forward in a reasonable fashion. The letters and papers are mostly out of corrugated cardboard boxes and stored in archival file boxes and folders. The original order had been lost when papers were transferred from the original trunk at Auntie’s house to boxes in Mom’s condo, so I feel alright about rearranging them again. Looking though the contents again, it looks like there is quite a variety… mostly correspondence, but also quite a bit of handwritten family history notes and other miscellaneous.
Following along with Sturdevant’s suggestions:
- Define the nature and name of the collection — The Arline Allen Kinsel Papers. I think I will use Arline’s maiden name because the multiple marriages could be confusing.
- Inventory the contents — This is difficult. There are so many items. I will use the askSam database for the inventory, and assign abbreviations and ID numbers. I think I could initially file by these ID numbers and then when all items are inventoried, I could assign a File # and refile chronologically within each series (AAK, Family Correspondence). This sounds like a lot of work, but I know that I will keep finding more letters and papers, so it just doesn’t seem possible to file them chronologically right now. A thought: maybe I could use a decimal ID number that would allow for additional entries: AAK, Family Corr. 1905.02.01.01 (year, month, date, item number). This might do the double duty of Inventory and File Number. I should have a field in askSam for this.
- Determine the series within the collection – Series refers to the subdivisions, categories, or types of documents. I should have a field in askSam for this, too. Some of the categories are: correspondence – family, business, personal, general. What do I do with letters to Mercy from Minnie. I guess those are Family, but are they filed chronologically or in separate boxes?
- Document the provenance – ok, I have to write this up.
- Locate additional contents – this will be ongoing
- Remove and replace – newspapers are the big offender here, they need to isolated
- Establish the order of the series within the collection – huh? I think this means that I should pull out different authors, although I do think all letters TO/FROM AAK should be in one file. This includes business or personal correspondence. It will help in figuring out what was going on with her in a chronological way.
- Label folders – KSS suggests importance, alpha, chrono order using labels COLLECTION ABBREVIATION: Series: Specific Folder Name or Number.
- Date and cross-reference folders – ok
- Process, store, and label relevant materials such as ephemera and memorabilia – a BIG job
- Maintain these systems and procedures! – whew