A few days ago I reblogged a post from the ACU Special Collections blog reviewing the growth of our print collection in 2021. I want to do the same for archival materials. The basic definition I use to distinguish print vs. archival is that print items (could be books, periodicals, tracts, leaflets, and the like) were generally mass-produced for consumption by the public. Albeit some could have had a small print run, but they are printed on a press in quantity aimed at mass-distribution and circulation. Archival materials on the other hand are unique. They are not intended for mass-distribution, often just the opposite, and almost always exist only in singular copies. Whether correspondence or diaries or photographs or manuscripts or other written or typed records, they were created in the course of doing something. Print items are cataloged (we use Dewey Decimal System) and shelved on the shelf (sometimes in boxes or filing cabinets). Archival materials remain in their discrete collection–collections are not intermingled–are numbered and shelved in folders in boxes. To facilitate access to archival materials, we creating Finding Aids. I could go on, but that is the gist of it.
So each or so month my colleague Amanda Dietz composes blog posts describing new or updated finding aids. She also creates posts which delve deeper into select collections. Follow the link and check out the ‘Foldered and Finished’ posts.
I said a few days ago I think it critical to keep our donors informed of the progress in building the collection. I know lists of titles and authors are not the most compelling reading, and the same goes for lists of archival collections, but first-class research-level collections do not happen. They do not drop from the heavens, they are built. In our case, they are built almost solely by donors and used by researchers whose work deserves to be sourced by the very best collection that can be assembled. They are built methodically, diligently, consistently, all for the purposes of preservation and use. So, I hope the lists are useful. For those interested in this slice of American religious history, this is our bread and butter. This is the raw material from which ‘history’ is wrought (and re-wrought).
In 2021 over 600 linear feet of new old archival material came our way and passed through the processing room. It is all now on the shelves and along the way Amanda created or revised 125 finding aids. That is a tremendous achievement and you can read more at the link below.