Behind the Scenes: Finding Aid in Progress

Photo of one example of the many boxes and documents being surveyed at the Boyer Center Archives. -BCA

Photo of one example of the many boxes and documents being surveyed at the Boyer Center Archives. -BCA

This summer, the staff of the Boyer Center Archives is working diligently to produce a finding aid for the collection. Once complete, this tool will allow individuals to better understand what documents can be found in the collection and where they are located, thereby providing greater accessibility and efficiency for research.

Currently, individual series scope and content notes are being produced for the finding aid. This process involves surveying the content of the boxes within that series to understand the range of time over Boyer’s career they were created. Moreover, the boxes are surveyed to understand the types and topics of the documents they contain. Lastly, the notes taken during the survey are then synthesized into paragraph form. In order to complete this process in the most effective manner, we are attempting to balance more meticulous and traditional archival processing methods with the faster MPLP (more product, less process) method. So far, scope and content notes have been written for half of the series in the collection. Once these are completed, we will write biographical and administrative histories as well as a container list for the collection.

However, as we progress with this project, a couple interesting conundrums have come up, each with its own positive and negative factors. The first is the overlap of material between different series. Although this could be seen as a positive factor, as it provides different avenues for researchers to explore, this overlap makes it difficult to articulate in a scope and content note how one series is different from another. The second conundrum, is understanding how the collection had been arranged prior to the arrival of the current archival staff. During the survey process, questions have arisen about why certain documents have been arranged as they are or where certain items are. Although it would prove too difficult to change certain parts of the established system at this point, we can and have changed certain aspects. For example, recently, we changed the name of one of the series from “Personnel Files” to “CFAT Administration Files” in order for the name to better match the content of the series.

Despite these challenges, our staff is very excited about this project and we look forward to making the finding aid available on the Boyer Center Archives website in the near future. Stay tuned for more updates on this and other projects happening at the Boyer Center Archives.