Attic, old Sutter Basin Company building. Robbins, California, 2008
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Attic to Archives
Bringing Historical Collections to Light
Previously on exhibit in the Special Collections Reading Room. Now, presented here as a web exhibit.
Archivists make an official record of each collection and update each collection's file as more information becomes available.
From the Sutter Basin Company Records, D-491. This unprocessed collection documents the history of a land reclamation company in Sutter County. The company's records fill about 150 boxes and also include maps, ledgers, and artifacts.
Archivists smooth out folded and crumpled documents, remove paperclips, and put the materials in new acid-free folders and containers.
Gloves help keep grit and skin oils off photographs. A small tool such as this microspatula is handy for opening stuck envelopes and prying out staples.
An archivist spends a lot of time researching the creator of the collection and learning about the collection's subjects. The goal is a concise history that will be informative without overwhelming the researcher with too much information.
"Virgin and Unreclaimed Lands"
...The soil in the tule basin is the richest in the world and every foot of it, when reclaimed, will be rated as garden land. ... Capitalists, realizing its worth, have recently commenced the reclamation of this vast territory....
Sutter County, California: a Productive Soil, an Ideal Climate. Yuba City, Calif.: Sutter County Board of Supervisors, ca. 1915.
The scope and content section of a finding aid tells the researcher about the themes and types of materials in the collection and points out anything unusual.
Once the archivist has finalized the collection's arrangement and corrected any mistakes, it's time to number the folders and make a final list.
Archivists often create finding aids in Encoded Archival Description (EAD). These EAD finding aids go to a joint Web repository such as the Online Archive of California (http://www.oac.cdlib.org/).
A completed collection and its finding aid: California State Beekeepers Association Archives. (D-075)
Apiary and garden of E.L. Sichrist, 1934. From the California State Beekeepers Association Archives, D-075.
Images (unless otherwise credited) are the property of the Regents of the University of California; no part may be reproduced or used without permission of the Department of Special Collections.