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American Archivist (Vol. 61, No.1 / Spring 1998)

Abstracts and Author Bios


The Society: From Birth to Maturity

Nicholas C. Burckel


The author takes a statistical "snapshot" of the Society of American Archivists at three different periods in its history-each separated by twenty-five years-to illustrate the continuity and changes that have occurred. For the years 1940, 1965, and 1990, the author examines the composition of the Society's membership, its leadership, its scholarly journal, its annual meetings, and the perspective of it presidents. The article concludes with some comparisons with allied professional organizations, such as the American Library Association, the American Historical Association, and the Organization of American Historians, placing the Society's experience in a larger context. A briefer version of this article was delivered 28 August 1997 as the author's presidential address at the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists held in Chicago.

Author Bio

Nicholas C. Burckel is Dean of Libraries and Associate Professor of History at Marquette University and a presidential appointee to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Formerly he was Associate Dean of Libraries at Washington University and adjunct Associate Professor in the University of Missouri's School of Library and Information Science. He is a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists and former president of the Midwest Archives Conference and Regent of the Academy of Certified Archivists. He served as a Council on Library Resources management intern of Certified Archivists. He served as a Council on Library Resources management intern at the University of Chicago and as a senior fellow at the Palmer School of Library and Information Science. His books and articles deal with history, archives, and librarianship.

Providing Subject Access to Images: A Study of User Queries

Karen Collins


This paper describes a study of user queries conducted at two historical photographic collections-the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh. Patron requests were analyzed in order to determine which types of subject terms and attributes of images are used most often in requests for photographs. Basic categories of terms were created, and the number of requests utilizing each category of term was tallied. It was found that subject terms, both generic and specific, were used far more frequently than any other categories of terms in requests for photographs. Generic subject terms appeared most often in requests, indicating the importance of these terms for indexing. Time and place were the next most commonly used types of terms. In contrast, genre, visual terms, format, and creator/provenance were mentioned relatively infrequently.

Author Bio

Karen Collins is a reference librarian at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has a bachelor of science degree in physics and previously taught high school physics in Santa Barbara, California. Her paper, for which she was awarded the 1997 Theodore Calvin Pease Award, was written in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the master of science degree in library science in library science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in March 1997.

Arthur Agarde, Elizabethan Archivist: His Contributions to the Evolution of Archival Practice

Maggie Yax


In his various capacities as deputy chamberlain of the Exchequer, antiquary, scholar, and writer, Arthur Agarde (1540-1615) played an integral role in Elizbethan society-a society in which recordkeeping activities and use certainly reflected the political climate. The rise of England as a nation-state not only created a spirit of insular nationalism but also engendered political, religious, and legal controversies. During this era, antiquarian scholars increasingly consulted Britain's vast accumulation of documents to research the past and help settle the debates. This dramatic growth in the use of historical records pointed out the need for improved recordkeeping procedures. An examination of Agarde's life and career reveals his contributions to an evolving archival practice, especially in description, arrangement, and preservation.

Author Bio

Maggie Yax is the Albert B. Sabin Archivist at the Cincinnati Medical Heritage Center of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center Libraries. She holds an M.L.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University. Her interest in special collections and archives began even before she earned her M.L.S., and inspired her to write articles on such diverse topics as artists' books and the history of medicine collections. She also researched, organized, and installed an exhibit at the University of Illinois entitled Five Centuries of Women Book Artists: Printers and Engravers, 1478-1984.

Information Resource Management in the Electronic Workplace:
A Personal Perspective On "Archives in the Information Society"

Richard M. Kesner


This article examines the general direction of information resources management (IRM) and computer technology applications as they influence the workplace. The author briefly explores the environmental characteristics of this new setting, including the influence of the World Wide Web, changes in information network design, and the emergence and widespread use of dynamically created, distributed, and employed information resources. He establishes this frame of reference to assess the implications of these changes for the roles and responsibilities of the archivist to service the IRM needs of the highly automated organization and its constituency of so-called "knowledge workers."

Author Bio

Richard M. Kesner currently serves as Vice President for Planning and New Opportunity Development for New England Services, Inc., the servicing arm of The New England, a major U.S. financial services company. Until recently, he served as a coordinator of Babson College's reengineering efforts as well as its Chief Information Officer. He was concurrently President and Senior Consultant for RMK Associates, a management, strategic planning, and MIS consulting firm, working with banks, insurance companies, professional and consulting organizations, and a wide range of public institutions. Kesner holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University, and an A.B. and M.B. from Oberlin College.

Harnessing the Power of Warrant

Wendy M. Duff


Over the last decade a number of writers have encourage archivists to develop strategies and tactics to redefine their role and insert themselves into the process of designing recordkeeping systems. This paper urges archivists to exploit the authority inherent in the laws, regulations, standards, and professional best practices that dictate recordkeeping specifications to gain great acceptance for the requirements for electronic evidence. Furthermore, it postulates that this proactive approach could assist in gaining greater respect for the archival profession.

Author Bio

Wendy M. Duff is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Information Studies where she teaches classes in records management, electronic records management, and archival description. While earning her Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, Duff was project coordinator for the University of Pittsburgh Electronic Recordkeeping Project. Prior to receiving her doctorate, Duff worked in archives and libraries for more than a decade. She has also given many workshops and written numerous articles on various aspects of electronic records and archival description.

Doing What's Possible With What We've Got: Using the World Wide Web to Integrate Archival Functions

Jean-Stephen Piche


This article explores one way of presenting archival information using the World Wide Web. It shows how different kinds of archival descriptive information resting in electronic formats in various legacy systems can be integrated and presented in a single view/window using flexible, simple information technology tools. It also presents to archivists the advantages of accessing integrated archival information on more than one archival function to enhance the archivists's conceptual knowledge of the record and records creators.

Author Bio

Jean-Stephen Piche graduated with a masters in history from the Universite de Montreal in 1992. Since 1990 he has been a government records archivist at the National archives of Canada. He has published in Archivaria and Les actes du XX1e congres de l'association des archiviste du Quebec. This article builds upon previous presentations at ASIS (1995), ACA (1996), and the AAQ (1997) and also summarizes an Intranet pilot project the author unertook at the National Archives in 1996-1997.

CSS Alabama Digital Collection: A Special Collections Digitization Project

Andrea Watson, with P. Toby Graham


In today's high-tech information environment, archivists and special collections librarians can use technology to enable the informational contents of rare and unique materials to transcend their physical boundaries. To explore this possibility, a team in the William Stanley Holle Special Collections Library at the University of Alabama sought to create access via to the Internet to a small set of the Hoole Library's materials relevant to the famous Confederate raider, the CSS Alabama. The creation of the CSS Alabama Digital Collection served as a learning experience for the staff in the digital imaging of a wide variety of special collections materials and resulted in an electronic learning resource for students of all ages. To date, the website has logged over three thousand hits and has evoked highly positive responses from users, proving that the World Wide Web is an effective access medium for special collection materials.

Author Bio

Andrea Watson was special collections librarian for reference services in the William Stanley Hoole Special Collection Library at the University of Alabama at the time this article was written. She has since retired and is currently working as a freelance artists and image researcher.

P. Toby Graham is special collections librarian at the University of Southern Mississippi. He received his Ph.D. in library and information studies at the University of Alabama in May. He earned master's degrees in history and library service at the University of Alabama and a bachelor's degree in social sciences at James Madison University.

An Exploration of K-12 User Needs for Digital Primary Sources Materials

Anne J. Gilliland-Swetland


With the rapid development of the global information infrastructure and networked multimedia systems, is it possible to make access to archival materials and their descriptions truly virtual, to make their use more diverse, and user interaction more effective? Part I of this article examines trends in K-12 pedagogical and curricular innovation that are leading to increased integration of primary sources, facilitated by new learning technologies, into the classroom. In Part II, the author argues that what is required is a conscious approach to the selection, representation, and presentation of digitized and digital archival materials, informed by sound empirical knowledge of the needs of targeted user groups. In Part III of this article, the author reports on research underway at UCLA exploring the needs of K-12 teachers and students, both for locating and using primary source materials, and for incorporating those materials into learning systems design. The author also speculates on the potential of Encoded Archival Description to provide the descriptive infrastructure for a multimedia archival information system that would address some of the needs identified for K-12 users.

Author Bio

Anne J. Gilliland-Swetland is an assistant professor in the University of California, Los Angeles Department of Library and Information Science. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and is currently serving on the Council of Society of American Archivists.

Special Collections Repositories at Association of Research Libraries Institutions: A Study of Current Practices in Preservation Management

Tyler O. Walters, in association with Ivan E. Hanthorn


This article reports and interprets data collected from a 1995 survey of special collections repositories at Association of Research Libraries institutions. It covers part one of the survey-current practices in preservation management. One hundred thirteen institutions represented by 170 archives/manuscripts repositories were asked to participate, of which 143 institutions, or 84.1%, did so. This is the second largest sample of archives' preservation activities ever gathered in the United States. The goals of the study were, first, to create a base of data on the development of archival preservation programs in research institutions and interpret that data and, second, to understand the extent to which the archives and library preservation departments interact in their common mission to ensure the availability of research materials to present and future generations. The study is unique in its investigation of the interrelationships between the archival repository's and the library's operational functions. This article recognizes that there is potential for a certain amount of preservation program development and integration between libraries and archives.

Author Bio

Tyler O. Walters is Head, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library, Ames, Iowa. He holds an M.A. in archival management from North Carolina State University. He is also the chair of the SAA Preservation Section.

Preservation Re-Recording of Audio Recordings in Archives: Problems, Priorities, Technologies, and Recommendations

Christoper Ann Paton


This article offers a context for examining archival audio holdings, determining preservation needs and priorities, and planning audio re-recording (reformatting) projects. It addresses such issues as identification of the most vulnerable recording types, the meaning of "preservation re-recording," and the skills, equipment, and personnel that are necessary for working with older recordings. The information provided is drawn in part from the experiences of archivists at Georgia State University during a in-house archival audio re-recording project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Author Bio

Christopher Ann Paton is Archivist of the Popular Music Collection in the Pullen Library Special Collections Department at Georgia State University, where she oversees a collection that includes approximately sixty thousand commercial and noncommercial disc and tape recordings.

Review Essay: Going Postal

Peter J. Wosh

Author Bio

Peter J. Wosh has been director of the archives program in the history department at New York University since 1994. Prior to that he served as director of archives and library services at the American Bible Society, and archivist for Seton Hall University with responsibility for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark Archives.

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