March 20, 2021
Northern States Conservation Center

Collections Caretaker eNewsletter
Archives in Museums
Welcome to the Collections Caretaker e-Newsletter from Northern States Conservation Center. the newsletter is designed to bring you content that is pertinent to situations we all encounter in our museum and archives work. Feel free to let us know what topics you would like to see featured in Collections Caretaker or even contribute and article.
In this Issue

Processing and Arranging Archival Collections
Featured Courses
April Courses
May Courses
June Courses
Conferences and Meetings
Processing and Arranging Archival Collections
By Jenna Edwards

Archival Processing is the act of arranging and describing the papers of an individual or family or the records of an organization.

Arrangement is the process of organizing records to document and reveal content and significance. Usually this includes rehousing, labeling and gaining intellectual control and understanding of a collection.

Provenance is the most important tenant of archives arrangement. Records of one records creator should not be mixed with the records of another creator. This is also referred to as the French phrase respect des fonds or respect for property.
 
Original Order is the second most important tenant of archives arrangement. Records should be maintained in the order in which they are placed by the organization, individual or family that created them. There are circumstances when original order can’t be followed. In this situation it is necessary to impose an arrangement or order that makes accessibility the easiest for the researcher. The key is to use the simplest order possible.
 
Levels of arrangement
There are typically five levels of arrangement. These levels are considered the Holmes theory of arrangement after Oliver Holmes (former US Archivist). This complete explanation of the 5 different levels of arrangement can be found here on NARA’s website.

1.) Repository. These divisions are at a high level within an organization and usually involve large amounts of records. For example: A university might divide their archival holdings into institutional records (created by the university) and special collections (containing donations and collections created by outside sources.

2.) Record Group. A body of related records based on provenance. When establishing a records group usually two things are taken into consideration: complexity and quantity of records.

Examples of records groups can be: Establish records groups by provenance – records that come in together become a records group. For example: NARA divides records groups by federal agency.

Establish records groups by group or organization to bring together bodies of material. For example: A university might make the sorority records one records group rather than several small groups based on each sorority.

Ultimately deciding records groups depends on the organization and records structure of the collections within.
 
3.) Series. Group of files maintained together as a unit because of a common bond based on creation, receipt or use. These records usually relate to a particular subject, have a similar format or organizational system. This series is the most used form or archival collection unit. Examples include: Correspondence, memos, meeting minutes etc.

4.) File Unit. Individual items or folders can be put into units for ease of access and collection organization. Typically these folders are arranged by alphabetical, chronological, geographical, subject or numerical breakdown.

5.) Item. An item is a letter or document usually found within the folder. The items within a folder are then typically organized or arranged chronologically or alphabetically. This level of arrangement is the least commonly used as it is often impractical with large collections.
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Jenna Edwards is the Archivist/Records Manager for the USDA National Wildlife Research Center. After completing an MA in Public History at Wright State University located in Dayton, Ohio, she began working for the National Park Service at cultural and environmental heritage sites including the National Archives for Black Women’s History and the South Florida Collections Management Center (SFCMC) located in Everglades National Park. She then transitioned to the USDA National Wildlife Research Center, which combined her love of archives and environmental history. Her current projects include digitizing archival materials, the preservation and conservation of data and creation of an electronic records management filing scheme.
 
Want to learn more about Archival Records in Museums and other repositories? Join Jenna for MS234 Archives Management starting April 5, 2021. 

Featured Course:
Museum Storage Facilities and Furniture
If you are building a new storage facility or retrofitting an old one, this course provides the blueprint for how to approach architects and engineers as well as redesigning your facility yourself. The course covers the philosophy of storage, the construction requirements, security, fire and water prevention, types of furniture, and how to plan for collections growth.

The course will start with a refresher on the agents of deterioration and environmental issues to assure that the students have a common base to begin.

After this introduction, topics include determining storage and defining space, architectural design considerations and issues such as lighting, security and planning. We will discuss general information about storage furniture types and storage materials, how to modify existing cabinets and information on homemade storage systems. The last section includes specific information from a variety of vendors, specifics on writing a Request for Proposal (RFP), and what to consider when making a decision on a furniture type and vendor.

The instructor will add readings and other information depending upon the students and their individual institutional problems and concerns.
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Looking to improve your storage facility, adding more storage or moving to a new facility? MS202 Museum Storage Facilities and Furniture is the course for you, Join Laura Elliff-Cruz for this interesting and informative course starting April 5, 2021.
Featured Course:
Care of Metals

Outdoor sculpture, silver tea service, gold jewelry, axe head, wheel rim - metals are found in most museum collections and may be stored or displayed indoor or outdoors depending on the object. Learn how to identify different types of metal and their alloys. Gain an understanding of how and why metals deteriorate and methods for preventing deterioration from occurring or continuing. The pros and cons of different popular treatments will be covered along with recommendations for the least damaging approach to treatment. Care of Metals provides a simplified explanation of the chemistry and structure of metals, explaining the importance of the galvanic series and electrochemistry in care strategies. Starting with an overview of the history and function of metals and how they are made, the course will cover guidelines for handling, labeling, exhibiting and storing metals. An overview of treatments, including cleaning, used on metals and how appropriate they are for the long-term preservation of the metal object will help students make care decisions when consulting with conservators.
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Join Diana Komejan for MS223 Care of Metals starting April 5, 2021 and learn more about how to identify and care for the metals in your museum collections.
Early Bird Discounts Available for Full Length Courses
 
An Early Bird Discount is available for anyone who signs up for a full length course from museumclasses.org 30 days prior to the start of that course. 
 
Sign up for a full length course up to 30 days prior to its start and save $100.00!
 
For our course list or to sign up: http://www.collectioncare.org/course-list
 
To take advantage of this discount, you must enter coupon code EARLYBIRD at checkout at collectioncare.org

Earlybird Discount Deadline for May 2021 Courses is April 3, 2021

Earlybird Discount Deadline for June 2021 Courses is May 16, 2021
April Courses

April 12 to 16, 2021   
Instructor: Diana Komejan
Description:
As we march boldly toward the 22nd century, artifact collecting includes that most fragile of materials - plastic. Not only is it in our collections, but it is used to house our collections, too. What problems have you seen? What problems have others seen? What materials are best? What can we, as caretakers, do to minimize long-term damage? Join Diana in this mini-course for discussing care and deterioration of plastics. Bring any questions you have about plastics in your museum.

April 19 to 30, 2021  
Instructor: Elizabeth Burton
Description:
Whenever an object leaves or enters your museum, it should have a dated condition report completed. A condition report is so much more than "good" or "poor." Learn about different types of condition reports, what is essential and what is optional information in each, the function of a condition report, and how to use an online condition assessment tool.

April 5 to 30, 2021 
Instructor: Laura Elliff Cruz
Description:
If you are building a new storage facility or retrofitting an old one, this course provides the blueprint for how to approach architects and engineers as well as redesigning your facility yourself. The course covers the philosophy of storage, the construction requirements, security, fire and water prevention, types of furniture, and how to plan for collections growth.

The course will start with a refresher on the agents of deterioration and environmental issues to assure that the students have a common base to begin.
After this introduction, topics include determining storage and defining space, architectural design considerations and issues such as lighting, security and planning. We will discuss general information about storage furniture types and storage materials, how to modify existing cabinets and information on homemade storage systems. The last section includes specific information from a variety of vendors, specifics on writing a Request for Proposal (RFP), and what to consider when making a decision on a furniture type and vendor.

The instructor will add readings and other information depending upon the students and their individual institutional problems and concerns.

April 5 to May 14, 2021
Instructor: Kimberly Kenney
Description:
Acquiring and holding collections impose specific legal, ethical and professional obligations. Museums must ensure proper management, preservation and use of their collections. A well-crafted collections management policy is key to collections stewardship. Collections Management Policies for Museums and Related Institutions helps participants develop policies that meet professional and legal standards for collections management. Collections Management Policies for Museums and Related Institutions teaches the practical skills and knowledge needed to write and implement such a policy. The course covers the essential components and issues a policy should address. It also highlights the role of the policy in carrying out a museum's mission and guiding stewardship decisions. Participants are expected to draft collections management policies.

April 5 to 30, 2021  
Instructor: Sarah Kapellusch
Description:
A collection database is a necessary tool for accurate and efficient collections management. In Collection Management Databases you will learn what characteristics distinguish one database system from another; how a database can be used to manage inventory, conservation, pest management, and other aspects of collections management; as well as how to prepare your collection and documentation for entry into a database.

April 5 to May 7, 2021  
Instructor: Diana Komejan
Description:
Outdoor sculpture, silver tea service, gold jewelry, axe head, wheel rim - metals are found in most museum collections and may be stored or displayed indoor or outdoors depending on the object. Learn how to identify different types of metal and their alloys. Gain an understanding of how and why metals deteriorate and methods for preventing deterioration from occurring or continuing. The pros and cons of different popular treatments will be covered along with recommendations for the least damaging approach to treatment. Care of Metals provides a simplified explanation of the chemistry and structure of metals, explaining the importance of the galvanic series and electrochemistry in care strategies. Starting with an overview of the history and function of metals and how they are made, the course will cover guidelines for handling, labeling, exhibiting and storing metals. An overview of treatments, including cleaning, used on metals and how appropriate they are for the long-term preservation of the metal object will help students make care decisions when consulting with conservators.

April 5 to 30, 2021  
Instructor: Jennifer Edwards
Description:
Archives include flat paper, photographs, bound pamphlets, books, small 3-dimensional objects, and magnetic media. The Archives Management course covers an introduction to the materials found in archives and typical use of these materials including use patterns, retrieval needs, finding aids, handling and exhibition. The last half of the course details optimum storage options for archival materials. Storage includes furniture, storage techniques, standardized and specialized housing such as folders and boxes and custom-made housings.

April 5 to 30, 2021  
Instructor: Karin Hostetter
Description:
So much to say and so little space in which to say it. That is the dilemma when scripting an exhibition. How do you say what needs to be said in the space available? How do you even figure out how to limit the information in the first place? Discover the value of themes, tangibles, intangibles, and universals in writing exhibit text that visitors really want to read -- and remember. Additional resources provided on font size and colors as well as label layout.
May Courses
May 3 to 14, 2021 
Instructor: Karin Hostetter
Description
Self-guided brochures, exhibit labels, docent led tours, guest speakers, and audio tours are only a few of the methods available to guide visitors through an exhibit. Explore the strengths and challenges of many different methods and garner resources for further information. Learn how to determine which method works best with which exhibits and how to provide variety to enhance the visitor experience.
 
May 3 to June 11, 2021 
Instructor: Ernest Conrad
Description:
The museum's brick exterior wall is crumbling. The powder coated metal storage shelves have active rust under the foam padding. Objects in fur storage are covered in mold. It is raining in the exhibit hall. This is the damage that occurs to museum buildings or collection when staff do not understand preservation environments. Preservation Environments is essential knowledge for any collecting institution. Everyone should understand how humidity and temperature are controlled by a building and its mechanical system. For museum staff considering a new building - and any institution planning to expand or rebuild an existing one - Preservation Environments provide important information for calculating whether the proposed improvements will actually improve the environmental control of your protective enclosure. Participants learn the advantages and disadvantages of numerous methods of temperature and humidity control. Preservation Environments does not try to turn museum professionals into engineers. Rather, it arms them with the knowledge they need to work with engineers and maintenance professionals. And helps explain why damaged occurred and how to keep it from happening again.
 
May 3 to 28, 2021  
Instructor: Ann Coppinger
Description:
Caring for textiles demands an understanding of how and why they deteriorate. This course offers a simplified explanation of the origin and structure of textile fibers as well as the finished textile object; be it either a piece of whole cloth or a finished garment. Care of Textiles teaches students to identify fibers, fabric structures and finishes, write condition reports, and understand the agents of deterioration that are harmful to various fabrics both in storage on exhibit. Topics include preparing textiles for storage and exhibit, the use of archival materials with textiles, and three dimensional supports.
 
May 3 to 28, 2021  
Instructor: Diana Komejan
Description:
Caring for furniture and wood artifacts demands an understanding of how and why wood deteriorates. This course offers a simplified explanation of the chemistry and structure of wood as well as the finished wooden object; be it either a totem pole, plow or a French polished table. Care of Furniture and Wood Artifacts teaches students to identify woods, finishes and furniture styles, write condition reports, and understand the agents of deterioration that are harmful to wood both in storage and on exhibit. Topics include preparing wood artifacts for storage and exhibit, the use of archival materials with wood artifacts, housekeeping techniques for furniture and large objects on open display, basic repairs and three dimensional supports for storage or exhibit.
 
May 3 to 28, 2021  
Instructor: John Veverka
Description:
The Planning, design and text copy development for interpretive panels is a practical “how to do it” course to develop updated or new interpretive panels for heritage sites, historic homes, natural areas, zoos, and other related sites. Panels are the most widely use interpretive media, world-wide, to quickly present a message or story to site visitors in a memorable fashion. We will look at the interpretive planning process, interpretive design concerns, interpretive text writing for panels, panel fabrication materials, panel pre-testing evaluation, and even how to write a RFP (request for proposal) to have your panels fabricated. This is an important course for any interpretive staff member, planner, designer or manager.
 
The course includes an e-copy of John’s Interpretive Planning Textbook, and a e-copy of John’s new The Interpretive Trails Book.
 
 
June Courses

June 14 to July 9, 2021  
Instructor: Sarah Kapellusch
Description:
In this course we will examine the most significant laws and regulations that affect collections management, including the legal organization of museums, responsibilities of governing boards, collections care, loans and gifts, international regulations, intellectual property, cultural appropriation, and freedom of expression.
Covid-19 Resources

Many organizations have put together information on resources for Museums and Covid-19. Here are a few links to those Resources. Check back with these organizations for updates.

Use the drop-down menu in the upper right to find Webinars, Virtual tours and more



Conferences and Meetings
Double check each organization's website for more information. Some may still be going virtual this year due to continued safety concerns over Covid 19.
2021
Texas Association of Museums, San Antonio, TX
April 10-13, 2021
 
Museums Association New York, Corning, NY
April 10-13, 2021
 
American Alliance of Museums
Virtual Meeting: May 24 and June 7-9, 2021
Chicago, IL: May 9-12, 2021
 
Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, Jacksonville, FL
May 11-15, 2021
 
Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, Virtual
June 7-11, 2021
 
Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums, Archbold, OH
June 11-14, 2021

Association of Midwest Museums, Milwaukee, WI
July 2021

Society of American Archivists, Anaheim, CA
July 31 - August 7, 2021

Mountain-Plains Museums Association, Sioux Falls, SD
October 5-8, 2021

Oklahoma Museums Association, Shawnee, OK
September 15-17, 2021

American Association of State and Local History, Little Rock, AR
September 22-25, 2021    Virtual and Live
Southeastern Museums Conference, Chattanooga, TN
October 25 - 27, 2021

New England Museum Association, Newport, RI
November 17-19, 2021

National Association for Interpretation, Palm Springs, CA
November 3-December 4, 2021

Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, Wilmington, DE
October 14-16-2021

2022
American Alliance of Museums, Boston MA
May 19-22, 2022

Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums, Tacoma, WA
June 23-28, 2022

Society of American Archivists, Boston, MA
August 20-27, 2022

Oklahoma Museums Association, Enid, OK
September 14-16, 2022

National Association for Interpretation, Cleveland, OH
November 29-Decemver 3, 2022

2023
American Alliance of Museums, Denver, CO
May 19-22, 2023

Society of American Archivists, Washington, DC
July 22-29, 2023
Submissions and Comments
How to submit an article or upcoming workshops for inclusion in the Newsletter: 
If you would like to submit an article, notice of an organizational meeting or upcoming workshop for an upcoming Collections Caretaker Newsletter, send your submission to peggy@collectioncare.org
 
We are always looking for contributions to this newsletter. Submission deadline is the 10th of each month. 
 
Have a comment or suggestion?  
 
Northern States Conservation Center (NSCC) provides training, collection care, preservation and conservation treatment services. NSCC offers online museum studies classes at museumclasses.org in Collections Management & Care, Museum Administration & Management, Exhibit Practices and Museum Facilities Management.
 
Sincerely,
Helen Alten, Director
Peggy Schaller, Publications Manager