Cataloguing archives

Sorting

There are many different ways to sort:

  • Collections by donor/depositor, arranged within each collection by type of material, for example, photographs or newspaper cuttings
    Collections by type of material; for example, photographs, newspaper cuttings, maps, printed ephemera
    Collections by subject category; for example, church, school, streets
  • A combination all three.

For example, Buriton Village Association have divided their collection into:

  • School
  • Farming
  • Hop-Growing
  • Limeworks
  • Church and Chapel
  • Sport and Leisure
  • War
  • Transport
  • Buildings
  • General

Referencing

Referencing your collections clearly and logically is important.

  • Give each discrete collection a reference, to link it to the donor/ depositor
  • When you come to list the material, use the collection reference and add sub-numbers to reference all the items

Some suggestions

  • Number each collection, with a running number, or a letter code, or a combination of letters and numbers [ ABC1]
  • Sort and subdivide each collection into types or series of material (for example photographs, postcards, printed maps), using a number or letter for each series [ABC1/1, ABC1/2, ABC1/3 ...] or [ABC1/A, ABC1/B, ABC1/C...]
  • Within each series, sort the items into a logical order, such as date order, alphabetical order by place, serial number order
  • Number each item with a running number, [ ABC1/1/1] or [ABC1/A/1]

Deciding what to record

What sort of information (or metadata) should you record for each item? Some key elements are

  • Reference number
  • Title - keep this brief but meaningful, to capture the essence of the document (its form, and its basic content). It can be helpful to think how it would look in a list (e.g. place name first?)
  • Date - date when document was created, either simple year date or more detailed dates
  • Additional descriptive material - capture as much as possible from those who know about the sources and locality
  • Theme or subject area -  for example church, school etc. to assist in searching for and using the material

Additional details recorded could be

  • Format - if not recorded in the title, such as photograph, sound recording, video
  • Copyright information about photographs (name of photographer, details of copyright owner)
  • Physical characteristics - whether the document is damaged, fragile etc.
  • Location of document - shelf number, box number, etc.

Deciding how to record

What sort of system should you use? There are a number of possibilities:

  • Spreadsheet, with columns
  • Table (word-processed), with columns
  • Database, with fields
  • Other software (e.g. Comma)
  • Simple card index

A key point is that it should be searchable, and if possible capable of being sorted into order, by reference, date, title etc.

Sorting collections

Links

Contacts

Hampshire Record Office
Sussex Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 8TH
01962 846154
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