Assignment 6: Personal Reflection

Before I took this class I did not realize how many things archivists have to think about on a daily basis. Having done some work in the history room at my library I knew there was more to archiving than simply storing documents, but I didn’t consider just how precarious and fragile all of the different types of documents are (both analog and digital), how important context is for understanding documents, and I was very unfamiliar with collections (I thought of archives in terms of single documents instead of groups of collections). This was the concept that was the greatest paradigm shift for me, as I would have gotten hung up on documenting archives down to every last individual document, but the Meissner and Greene article “More Product, Less Process,” together with the lecture notes on original order and provenance, have convinced me it is better to save my time for outreach and collection development, and to trust that researchers are willing to do some leg work to get what they need.

Another perspective I gained from this class is considering the interests of researchers, collection owners, and institution administration. Often times when I am working in the history room at my library I feel like I am doing the work for the sake of the work, More

Assignment 6: Exploring an Ethical Dilemma

Kenny Martin

Info 256

Assignment 6


Prompt I chose: You discover a bag full of records in the basement of the company you are working for as a corporate archivist. On the face of it, it is clear that the documents contain very sensitive information on slush money paid by your company and bribery by the Chief Executive Officer. Apparently, the bag has been put there to be destroyed or to be put out in the trash. What do you do?


My answer to this question is that the archivist SHOULD NOT take the bag of documents they found and work to process them and add them to their collection. This argument is based primarily on the Categorical Imperative.

I don’t think it is a good idea to have “archivists can incorporate records that aren’t given to them into the archives” as a universal maxim. It seems like an action unbecoming of a professional in any field, and in the case of archivists it creates a mess when it comes to preserving context and authenticity. If there is only one collection that is obtained in this manner, and it is clearly documented how it was found, then overall the archives still has order because all of the other collections were accessioned normally. But if there are lots of collections obtained in this dubious manner, even if they are documented as such, it throws the entire archives into chaos and doubt. In this one instance, perhaps the archivist will be acting in the interest of the public and researchers, but in the long-run they are establishing a precedent that can cause harm to the public, as well as their own company. Obviously, the creators of the records in this case are not abiding by the Categorical Imperative, either, but that doesn’t make it right for archivists to then break another Imperative. I do not believe someone should hold as a maxim “Archivists will not add documents that are not given to them explicitly for use in the archives, unless the information will expose another’s wrongdoing.” This assumes the archivist More

Assignment #5: Historical Figure Timeline

Kenny Martin

Info 256

Assignment 5

Here is the link to the timeline I made chronicling Rue Randall Clifford, one of the most influential people in the city of South San Francisco’s history: Rue Randall Clifford timeline


The South San Francisco Grand Avenue library history collection has lots of information on Rue Randall Clifford, including photographs, newspaper articles, essays, and even memorabilia. I chose to do my timeline on Rue Clifford because I find it remarkable that she was motivated to help shape her community in so many ways, and she also had a very strong conviction for what she believed in. Rue believed in having a strong mind and an equally strong body, so she not only taught at the South City high school for 43 years but she was also the coach of all of the women’s athletic teams, and the assistant coach for many of the men’s teams. As a result, the football field at SSF high school was named More

Assignment #4: Describing Archives in a Common Way

Kenny Martin

Info 256-10

An archives is a space (it can be a building, multiple buildings, or even just a room or part of a building) designed to keep materials such as physical papers, artifacts, movie recordings, sound recordings, and computer files, among other things, safe and accessible to people forever, or at the very least as long as possible. There are several different types of archives, each focusing on specific types of materials to collect. For example, an archive might only collect records for an organization they are a part of (emails, meeting minutes, reports, patents, etc.) or an archive might only collect and preserve video games.

Earlier I mentioned an archives being a space designed for preservation of specific materials, and this means much more than simply being a space dedicated to place the materials. Everything from the temperature and climate, to the types of containers and shelves used to box and hold the materials, and even to the types of plants allowed to grow near the building (certain types of plants can attract insects that feed on paper). Physical materials, such as wood, paper and even human hands have chemicals in them that can lead to the deterioration of materials if not maintained and handled with proper care, such as keeping the temperature and humidity not too high, storing paper in metal cabinets as opposed to wood, and wearing specially-made archival gloves when touching materials.

In addition to physical materials, archives can (and usually are) tasked with preserving access to digital files, and this takes special training More

Assignment 3: Scope and Content Note and Container List

Eric Theodore Carlson papers

Scope and Content Note

This is a collection of correspondences, army documents, and school documents belonging to Eric Theodore Carlson (who went by the name of Ted) dated 1944 – 1947 (bulk 1944 – 1946). These documents primarily describe Carlson’s daily routines and leisure activities from his time at Iowa State College, Fort Snelling (army stint), Chrysler Corporation in Detroit, MI, and Monsanto Laboratories in Dayton OH. Towards the later part of the collection, Carlson talks about his concerns with atomic energy, his involvement with the atomic bomb, and his legislative push for the McMahon Bill. More

Abstract and Biographical Note


This is primarily a collection of correspondences (letters) between Eric Theodore Carlson and his parents as well as his lab co-workers. The letters take place during his college years, his time in the army, and also the period when he was a research assistant chemist in Dayton, OH.

Biographical Note

Eric Theodore Carlson, who went by “Ted,” was born in 1922 or 1923 and presumably grew up in Middletown, CT. He received his B.A. in organic chemistry from Wesleyan University (located in Middletown, CT) in February of 1944, graduating with high distinction and Phi Beta Kappa honors.

In August of 1944, Carlson reported for duty in the army, where he reached the rank of private before leaving in March of 1946. Afterward, he accepted a research assistant chemist position at the Monsanto Chemical Company in Dayton, OH. By mid-1946, Carlson was convinced of the destructive power of atomic energy, and spoke about it both publicly and in private.

Visit an Archives

Kenny Martin

Info 256

Visit an Archives


For my visit an archives assignment I toured the Stanford University archives, which is composed of three main divisions: Special collections, rare books, and the university archives. My tour guide was Daniel Hartwig, who is one of the university’s archivists. During my tour I saw the area where rare books are shelved, the lab where media such as cassette tapes are digitized, and also the room where materials are stored until they are sent to the archive’s off-site storage facility. Hartwig estimates that roughly 95-99% of the archive’s collection, which when put together measures roughly 30,000 linear feet and is composed mostly of paper documents, is located at their off-site facility. The items that remain at the archives on the Stanford campus are heavy-use items and items that are very fragile, because they would be put at extra risk by transportation. Some of the really neat items to be found at the archives include the Eadweard Muybridge photos of a horse in motion that contributed greatly to motion picture technique as well as some of Charles Darwin’s original books (these are locked inside of display cabinets). In addition to the off-site storage facility, there is also a technical services, processing and cataloging facility located in Redwood City. I thought it might be a challenge for the archives to have so much of their collection off-site and also their processing staff and materials as well, but Hartwig said the process for transporting items has been streamlined to such an extent that it is not actually much of a bother. Among the three sites and multiple departments, the archives averages between 15-20 staff, who all work roughly the same hours, which is manageable for the operation and maintenance of the collections but Hartwig wishes there was more money for increased staff. A lot of the funding for staff positions comes via grants, which pay for positions for two to three years at a time.

The archive’s patrons are fairly evenly split between two groups: The students/faculty, who use the facility during the school year, and the More

Previous Older Entries