American Archivist (Vol. 61, No.2 / Fall 1998)
Abstracts and Author Bios
"Commendatory Letters": An Archival Reading of the Venerable
James M. O'Toole
This essay explores the role of writing, records, and documents as depicted
in the Ecclesiastical History of the English People, a landmark of western
historiography completed by the Venerable Bede in the year 731. Bede's purpose
was to narrate the early history of Christianity in Britain, but he also made
numerous references to writing and the role of documents in human affairs.
Because he was preparing his history at a time when writing itself was a relatively
unusual phenomenon, Bede offers a singular view of such larger questions as
the uses of literacy and documentation, the shifting dynamics among different
forms of communication, and the larger cultural meanings in records beyond
the information they contain. A study of these forces at work in Bede's time
give contemporary archivists a perspective on the revolutionary changes in
the technology and the uses of records in our own age.
James M. O'Toole is visiting associate professor of history at Boston College.
For fifteen years, he directed the M.A. program in history and archival methods
at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. O'Toole is a fellow of the Society
of American Archivists
Tracking Intelligence Information: The Office of Strategic Services
Jennifer Davis Heaps
Created during World War II, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was the
United States' first centralized intelligence agency, comprising research and
analysis as well as various clandestine operations. The new agency accumulated
massive amounts of information from open and secret sources and maintained
such information in the form of reports, maps, charts, memos, photographs,
and other kinds of documentation. A unit within the OSS Research and Analysis
Branch, the Central Information Division, collected most of these documents
and managed their use for intelligence analysis with the creation of an intricate
card indexing system. The Central Information Division's careful tracking of
information made possible present-day archival use of the cards and the records
Jennifer Davis Heaps received an M.A. in history from the University of Cincinnati
and is an archivist on the staff of the Special Media Archives Services Division,
National Archives and Records Administration. She first undertook research
of the history and administration of the OSS records described in her article
in a previous position at NARA where she worked with modern military records.
Schellenberg in Cyberspace
Linda J. Henry
In the last few years, advocates of the ideas of David Bearman have written
that archivists need a "new paradigm" for electronic records. The new ideas
would change or overturn traditional archival theory and practice, as represented
by T. R. Schellenberg and the first writers about electronic records. This
article discusses several of the new ideas and the differences between traditional
archival writers and those who support a new paradigm for electronic records.
Linda J. Henry has worked with manuscripts, organizational, and public records
in several institutions. Since 1991 she has been an archivist with the Center
of Electronic Records of the National Archives and Records Administration.
She is an SAA fellow and has served as SAA Treasurer and as a member of the
Developing a Strategy for Managing Electronic Records: The Findings of the
Indiana University Electronic Records Project
Philip C. Bantin
From June 1995 through December 1997, staff from the Indiana University Archives
and University Information Technology Services undertook and completed an electronic
records project partially funded by the National Historical Publications and
Records Commission, designed to implement and test the "Functional Requirements
for Evidence in Recordkeeping" model developed at the University of Pittsburgh.
In this article, the findings of the IU project are reviewed in the context
of several questions project personnel addressed during the project, including:
1) Does the Pitt model ask the right questions?
2) What set of activities are required to use and implement the model?
3) What are the costs associated with implementing the model?
4) What types of skills are required to apply the methodology?
Philip C. Bantin is university archivist at Indiana University, where he has
been actively involved in the management of IU's electronic resources as a
member and co-chair of the university's Data Stewards Committee. Before working
at IU, Bantin was an assistant archivist at Marquette University, university
archivist at UCLA, and head of the Archives and Manuscripts Department at Boston
Diplomatics: Modern Archival Method or Medieval Artifact
Susan E. Storch
This case study applies the principles of general diplomatics and the analysis
of special diplomatics to modern documents at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology Special Collections and University Archives and the University of
Massachusetts Archives. The information obtained from the application of diplomatics
was then compared to information gleaned from administrative sources, such
as procedural manuals, to determine if diplomatics revealed sufficient new
information about the files to justify such a detailed analysis of records.
This case study revealed that the use of special diplomatics is not justified,
but that the principles of general diplomatics could be very useful to the
Susan E. Storch received her bachelor of arts degree at McGill University
in Montreal in 1990 and her master of arts in history and archival methods
at the University of Massachusetts at Boston in 1994. Her article in this issue
is based on her master's thesis. She has worked on the Human Radiation Experiments
Project at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and was the project archivist for
Tobacco Control at the University of California, San Francisco from 1995 to
1996. Since June 1996 she has been the archivist at the University of Oregon.
Historical Resources in the Local Church: A Field Report on a Largely Gay
and Lesbian Congregation
W. Bernard Lukenbill
The author presents a consultative field study report describing how the archives
and historical records collection of a congregation associated with the University
Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches were organized with little personnel
resources and financial support. Details are given concerning the religious,
political, social, and cultural aspects that influence the design of the collection.
Rationale and examples are given concerning how the controlled-vocabulary subject
file was built and how descriptive catalog records and folders of manuscript
items were developed. Problems related to continued development of the collection
and to the need for electronic access to records are also discussed.
W. Bernard (Bill) Lukenbill is a professor of library and information science
at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Texas
at Austin. He holds an M.L.S. from the University of Oklahoma, and a Ph.D.
from Indiana University. He has lectured and published widely in several areas
of information organization and use, including youth literature and HIV-AIDS
information delivery within library environments.
The Applicability of Natural Language Processing (NLP) to Archival Properties
Natural language processing (NLP) is an extremely powerful operationone
that takes advantage of electronic text and the computers' computational capabilities,
which surpass human speed and consistency. How does NLP affect archival operations
in the electronic environment? This article introduces archivists to NLP with
a presentation of the NLP continuum and a description of the Archives Axiom,
which is supported by an analysis of archival properties and objectives. An
overview of the basic information retrieval (IR) framework is provided and
NLP's application to the electronic archival environment is discussed. The
analysis concludes that while NLP offers advantages for indexing and accessing
electronic archives, its incapacity to understand records and recordkeeping
systems results in serious limitations for archival operations.
Jane Greenberg is a graduate student researcher overseeing the metadata aspect
of the Pennsylvania Educational Network Digital Object Repository (PEN-DOR)
projecta digital library of educational resources for teachers throughout
the state of Pennsylvania. In January 1999, after completion of her Ph.D. at
the School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Greenberg will
join the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School
of Information and Library Science. Prior to her work at Pittsburgh, Greenberg
was the coordinator of Special Collections Cataloging at the Schomburg Center
for Research in Black Culture, a research division of the New York Public Library.
Archival MARC Records and Finding Aids in the Context of End-User Subject
Access to Archival Collections
Rita L. H. Czeck
This article discusses the findings of a study to determine the extent to
which archival MARC records represent chronological, geographical, personal,
and corporate information contained in corresponding finding aids to archival
collections. A content analysis of twenty finding aids to archival collections
and their corresponding archival MARC records was conducted. The data suggest
that the level of representation in archival MARC records varies depending
on subject category. Geographical terms were to most likely to be represented,
followed by personal names, chronological terms, and lastly corporate names.
Allowing for the searching of full-text electronic finding aids would enable
end users to benefit not only from the subject information present at the collection
level and in the abstract, but also from the areas in finding aids that tend
to get less MARC representation: scope/content notes, historical/biographical
information, series summaries, and container information.
Rita L. H. Czeck is assistant professor and monographic cataloger at the University
of Colorado at Boulder Libraries. She earned her master of library science
degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Developing International Cataloging Standards for Archival Holdings: Rosarkhiv-RLG-
Hoover Project, 1994-1997
Natasha Lyandres and Olga Leontieva
This article describes the first joint international cataloging project designed
to develop mutually acceptable standards of exchanging Russian archival descriptions
through the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN) using MARC AMC format.
The participants in the project were the Federal Archival Service of Russia
(Rosarkhiv), which selected appropriate archival repositories and supervised
the project's implementation in Russia; the Hoover Institution Archives, which
performed quality control for all RLIN records created by Russian archivists;
and the Research Libraries Group, which provided a wide range of technical
support and the RLIN database to host the created records. The authors discuss
project standards and methodology, work organization and implementation, as
well as the need to develop mutually acceptable international bibliographic
and subject standards to facilitate information exchange through the international
Olga Leontieva has been working since 1987 for the Archival Department of
the Tver' Region Administration, Russia. She studied history and archival administration
at Tver' State University and Russian State University for the Humanities.
Natasha Lyandres is currently employed as a reference librarian at East Carolina
University. Prior to taking this position in August 1997, she worked since
1990 in various capacities at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives.
She studied history at Moscow State University and received an M.L.I.S. from
San Jose State University in 1993.