Friday 7 June 2019

Disarrangement and Discovery in the Archives

Arrangement and description are crucial components to our work as archivists. We organize and maintain the order of the records and then describe their context and contents to make them accessible.

This means that you rarely find “hidden treasures” in an archives. Our goal is to have records arranged and described in such a way that anyone would be able to find an item. Nevertheless, there are instances where a collection wasn’t properly arranged or described, and we unearth items we didn’t know we had, or didn’t know would be so interesting. 

This happened not too long ago when we found this intriguing scrapbook for St. Ann’s Parish, Penetanguishene, in a not-so-obvious part of our collection.

Select pages from the St. Ann's parish scrapbook, showing correspondence, photographs, and  newsclippings

HO 53.16

ARCAT Special Collections

The scrapbook is made from a converted collection register, containing historical articles, newspaper clippings, correspondence (parish affairs, invitations), broad sheets and photographs pertaining to Catholic activity in Huronia into the 1920s.

Most records we have for parishes can typically be found in our Parish Collection. Files in our parish collection are arranged and described first according to the parish, and then according to functions and activities (parish history, publications, construction and renovation, etc.).

The scrapbook, however, is not part of the parish collection, and has been included as part of our holograph series in our Special Collections. The holograph series is a puzzling assortment of bound, handwritten volumes, including anything from account ledgers to journals. To make matters even more confusing, we also have an entirely separate scrapbook series as part of our special collections.

Maintaining the original order of records and following standards such as RAD help archivists avoid unclear organization in their collections. Sorting out the kinks in our special collections is going to take some time, but we look forward to seeing what else we uncover.

In the meantime, here are some more pages from the Penetanguishene scrapbook:

HO 53.16

ARCAT Special Collections

 Find out more about our holdings on our website.

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