By Kate Wilson, Archivist
The McGovern Historical Collections recently received a collection of early twentieth century medical artifacts. The collector, a family physician in Austin, Texas, had a personal interest in hearing related devices and quack medicine, so most of the objects in the collection can fall into those categories.
The first step in processing a collection is organizing the materials into categories; archivists call this arrangement. An archivist must try and balance the original order (respect des fonds) with an imposed order that will allow for physical and intellectual control over the materials.
With a traditional manuscript collection, a doctor’s personal and professional paper for example, archivist have fairly agreed upon series and sub-series. With such a unique collection as this one, I will have to come up with a nontraditional organizational schema. Luckily, arrangement is probably one of my favorite tasks of being an archivist!
Stay tuned to the Black Bag to follow along with the process!