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Archivists Handbook

INTRODUCTION – Rolando DelaGoza, CM

            In one of his letters Saint Vincent said: “ In the future, please keep the letters written to you and to the members of your house, no matter from whom they may come, whenever they contain any noteworthy details that may be important or may be instructive for the future.” (Saint Vincent, letter no. 3220, Coste [English edition], volume VIII, p.467).

The Congregation of the Mission is fortunate to have this tradition which encouraged the historians to conserve many documents and to write excellent histories of our past.  But there are many lacunae, many untold stories in many provinces for lack of a systematic way of conserving the documents , notably in small provinces.  This is one reason why many general histories of the Congregation are more of a history of curial administration rather than a history of the whole Congregation.

This basic handbook, or manual for provincial archivists, aims at helping to solve this problem and at making the job of provincial archivists a little easier. It is the product of six years experience as archivist and of continuous reading and meetings with other archivists in Rome.  Most of the materials can be found in any good book on archives but the merit of this work is in its arrangement and its easily readable language.

It is with gratitude that the author thanks the Reverend Robert P. Maloney, C.M. and the members of his General Council for the encouraging support they gave to this project.  May it be helpful for all confreres who want to make our provincial archives more professional, scholarly, accessible and complete.  In this way, the Congregation will be better able to keep alive the spirit of Saint Vincent de Paul.

Rolando S. DelaGoza, CM

Rome, 2004

Download in Word format – HANDBOOK PA – ENG

HANDBOOK FOR PROVINCIAL ARCHIVISTS IN THE CONGREGATION OF THE MISSION

Rev. Rolando S. DelaGoza, C.M.

Rome, Italy

April, 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

Chapters

I. The Archivist and the Archives

II. Classification System

III. Access and Service

IV. Frequently asked Questions

1. How to Weed out the Files?

2. How to use Modern Technology: DVD, CD, etc?

3. How do I Keep up to Date?

4. When do I File my Documents?

5. How to deal with Researchers?

6. How to Accommodate Modern Topics?

7. How to deal with Multiplicity of Languages?

8. How do I Prepare my Successor Archivist?

9. What new Equipment to Buy?

 

Appendices

1. Sample Archives Policy

2. Application to Use the Archives

3. Starting an Archives: the First Steps

4. Proposed Classification System

Resources: Web sites and Resources

CHAPTER I

THE ARCHIVIST AND THE ARCHIVES

This chapter covers the general concepts connected with the archivist and the archives.

1. The Archivist.  The provincial archivist is the person in charge of the archives and is responsible for the storing, protecting and preserving of archival materials. Among his many qualifications are the following: sense of history, respect for confidentiality, commitment to his job, readiness to serve, knowledge, administrative ability.

– Sense of history. Together with the love for the congregation, this quality is necessary for the work of the provincial archivist. The archivist needs to know the history of the congregation including the political and cultural history of the times.

– Respect for confidentiality.  In the archival work, one has to cultivate a discreet and loyal attitude towards the people, the Congregation and even the materials under one’s control.

– Committed to his task. The important tasks are: acquiring, accessing, arranging materials according to a system and security .  It is not enough that the archivist acquire documents, he has to arrange them so that they will be accessible and retrievable in the future.

– Ready, able and available to serve.  This qualification is what most researchers and historians are looking for in an archivist. Without this qualification, an archivist remains a scholar or a scientist without service to the community.

– Organized and orderly administrator who is careful to follow the classification system, to make archives list, cross references, etc. Without this characteristic an archivist will be hampered by the demands on his time and service.

– The archivist needs a working knowledge of language used in the congregation.  Without this skill, the archivist is prevented from easily recognizing, classifying and retrieving documents.

2. Job and Responsibilities.  The Provincial archivist is appointed by the Provincial Visitor and serves as his full time or part time staff.  If he is a different person from the Provincial Secretary , he has to work very closely with the latter for the smooth communication between the Provincial Secretary’s office and the archives.

The most important function of the archivist is to administer and direct the various activities related to the archives.  This includes: the acquisition, the appraisal, selection, arrangement, classification, preservation of materials, etc.

The archivist is responsible and should be committed to the task of preserving the historical heritage of the community.  Although he is not solely responsible for the heritage of the community, he is the one who should have the commitment to this job.

The archivist formulates rules on the use of the archives.  Most of these rules are available in archives literature and in libraries but the archivist should formulate his own.

The Provincial archivist offers services, references and assistance in using the archives for research in accord with specific regulations. This service is not limited to the Provincial Visitor and his council but should include all persons interested in using the resources of the provincial archives

The Provincial archivist should store, protect and preserve the archival materials.  For this purpose he should have appropriate and adequate space, protection and conservation materials available in the archives, for example heaters and humidifiers with the proper range.

THE ARCHIVES

3. Archives.  The word archives refers to the historical records, the building or the group responsible for the archival materials.  The historical or noncurrent records of a congregation are also referred to as archival materials or holdings and are preserved mainly for their value for the congregation or the province.  The agency or group of persons responsible for selecting, preserving and making available archival materials is also within the concept of the word archives.  Moreover the physical structures wherein the archival materials are located are also named archives.

The application of principles for the flow, the appraisal and selection of materials is necessary in large and small archives.  Archival and historical records should have an effective and continuing flow into the repository of the provincial documents.  A specific time period should be agreed upon by the secretary and the archivist for the keeping and transferring of materials. Some documents could be transferred within three months, others in six months, still others in one year, etc. The main idea is that the documents are transferred regularly.

HOW TO SELECT WHICH MATERIALS TO KEEP.

4. It is not enough that the documents be sent “down” to the archives. There should be an appraisal and selection process as to which documents should be kept.  If the archivist is at the same time the provincial secretary, the problem is half solved.  However, if there are different persons holding these positions, there should be an agreement between them to hold regular meeting to discuss the merits of the documents, preferably together with another member of the congregation.  They have to determine the value of the document based on its historical, evidential, research, legal fiscal and administrative importance. If in doubt, it is best to keep the documents with the proviso that they be destroyed after a certain number of years, e.g. after 10 or 20 years the documents “should be destroyed.” Materials to be  kept for a certain number of years for further evaluation should be clearly marked, i.e. “to be evaluated after 10 years from 2002.”

5. All materials concerning the Province should be collected: official documents, minutes of meetings, newsletters, circular letters from the Superior General, journals, annals, necrology of deceased members, etc. When some of the institutions close down, be sure that diaries, cash books, papers of superiors, stamps, house plans, floppy disks, CDs, and notebooks are collected.

6.  It is a good idea to have a system of starting the process of gathering, evaluating and finally sorting out the materials.  (See appendix III “Starting An archives: the First Steps”). The archivist should take the initiative to collect materials.

7.  Importance and Value of the Materials.  Most of the materials in the archives are important and valuable to the Congregation because of their juridical value.  They are generally classified into documents, minutes and other letters, reports, etc.

8.  Documents. In general, the term “ documents” also include minutes and reports but strictly speaking these are the official public documents evaluated as such.  Some criteria for identifying a document are : official seals used, papers used, the style and kind of writing etc. The original copies are the bases for judging the authenticity of documents.  This can be materially sent by the sender or by a competent authority.

9.  Minutes. These are the writings that are connected directly with the document, that is those that follow immediately or that prepare the official documents.  They can even be more valuable than the document because information sometimes not found in the document proper is found there, for example the way the decision was reached during the questions and answers.  Some of these are written before the document, for example the letter of petition or question, or the draft of the minutes.

Some other writings related to the document proper are the duplicates, the register, authenticated copies, or extracts. The duplicates or the photocopies become important if authenticated as such by some sort of seal or signature of an official of the order.  An extract of the document is a copy of part of a text and is important if authenticated as such.

10.  Multimedia. CD, microfilms, films, e-mails, videos, etc. More and more new methods of conserving data are now available and in great use among the superiors of religious groups and ecclesiastical and civil authorities.  It behooves all archivists to be aware of them, provide a special section of the archives for new technological data storage and to keep up by reading materials concerning them.  (Please see Appendix V. Web-Sites and Resources).

11.  Religious Artifacts.  Although many of the so called religious artefacts, i.e. Statues, medals, crucifixes, icons, clothes of the founder, etc. are not strictly archival and belong to a museum, most often there is no museum or room for these artifacts and the superiors require the archivist to take care of these “things.”  The archivist should willingly set aside a section of the archives or ask for another small room where these can be kept.  The important thing is to have some system of identification and catalogue of these materials so that they are not scattered around the room without descriptions or explanations.  When the archivist can find the time, he should make some research and describe these artifacts.  With the use of a digital camera, one can actually store these materials with some basic information and have a record of what are of value in the various houses.

12.  Archives as resource center. There are many things that could be stored in the archives if there is enough space. Some people think that the archives is a resource center and to some extent this is true. It is a central place where the letters of the founder, the different editions of the rule or common rules could be found.  The smaller houses could not easily get those documents if the provincial or general curia do not have these documents.

CHAPTER II

CLASSIFICATION AND ARRANGEMENT

 

13.  Depending on whether the new archivist has inherited an established archives or he/she is starting a new one, the classification and arrangement should be started accordingly.  For an established archives, an incoming archivist should not change the basic arrangement.  For a totally new archives, the archivist would do well to follow a certain method in organizing archives, records, and manuscripts in accordance with accepted principles and the nature of the archives.  The process is more than just sorting out the documents and materials which include packing, labeling, shelving in order to attain physical and administrative control and basic identification of the holdings.

14.  While it is a common practice among archivists to have a specialized/ customized classification system, it is advisable that a beginning archivist adopt and customize some system previously proven good.  In appendix (Please see Appendix no. IV), is listed a sample of a suggested classification system which is adoptable to many provinces. The thing to keep in mind is to be consistent in using the system, in arranging new acquisitions regularly.

15.  The inter-relationship of materials should be kept in mind in any kind of classification because in a religious community, the functions and administrative structure determine the various class or groups in which the document fall.  Each class will need a suitable mark or code either in number or mnemonic or a combination of the two.  Within each class sub groups will frequently form and these should also be given sub group numbers. This will become clear to new archivists when new materials are added from time to time.  The individual items are listed according to their sub group within a class and given a classification code sub-group number and individual number.

16.  The class lists will give a general summary of the materials within the archives and can become a basic guide for evaluating the potential value of the archives in a particular field of research.  The researcher is provided an overall but limited view of the contents of the archives.  For supplementary information, a researcher can use 1) an inventory or listing of individual documents and papers in various sub-groups; 2) a compilation of indexes covering persons, subjects, places, etc.

17.  As regards inventory or index of materials, this is one of the hard and tedious job that should be done little by little because they are very useful for researchers as far as data on persons, places, dates and materials are concerned.  They could be arranged alphabetically or chronologically by places, persons and dates.  During these modern days, it is easy enough with the help of computers to adjust the inventory when more materials are acquired by adding new sub-groups and divisions. In all this, one has to foresee the usefulness of the index and of course the time available for doing the index or inventory which could be in the style of a dictionary or just a basic listing of information.

CHAPTER III

ACCESS AND SERVICES OF THE ARCHIVES

 

18.  The archives of congregations are primarily for keeping the records and to provide for the needs of the Congregation. They are for administrative, legal or official use of the Superiors and members of a particular congregation.  However, many of the historical records are also used by researchers, historians and other groups for the history of a place or for the persons who were connected with the order.

The archivist is guided by the policy of the congregation or order and on the capabilities of the personnel and by his own discretion and good judgment.  Today there is tendency towards being more open and to be of service to the larger world community and not to the order alone.  It should be made clear on what conditions is the archives open to outside researchers . (See Appendix I. Sample Archives Policy).

19.  Schedule. The time of opening and closing should be publicized with the note that the schedule could be changed depending on the availability of personnel.

20.  Researchers and Historians.  In general, some control should be imposed on who can use the archives.  Researchers and historians should fill up an application form (see Appendix III: Application Form for Use of the Archives), have a recommendation from an authority, e.g. College president or Bishop of the place, and give proof of his qualifications to use the archives.  The permission to use the archives may be renewable or limited .  In any case there should always be means to be able to supervise with good vigilance the people handling archives materials.

21.  A application form for the use of the archives should be prepared indicating the basic information and the most important information and rules for the use of the archives. (Please see Appendix III).

22.  It is advisable that a register of researchers using the archives be kept. This record also helps further inquiries both by the present researcher or another.

23.  The archivist should remember that he or she has the right to refuse access and give confidentiality as a reason.  Since archives of religious congregations are private archives and the archivist uses his discretion.

24.  It is a good policy not to put too much materials in the hands of researchers and historians at one time.  A few pages at a time with the instruction that the order of materials be kept will ensure a better chance of materials being handled properly.  In some rare cases, archivists and employees may be able to do research for interested persons. A list of documents consulted should be kept by both the researcher and the archivist.

25.  Copies. Copying of documents especially photocopies should be controlled because they could be used for juridical reasons. The archivist is sometimes victimized by unscrupulous persons.  If need be, authenticated copies of photocopies should be cautioned with a note “not for juridical purposes.” Some check needs to be in place for researchers putting reference directly into their lap top computer.  In some ways this method of research is preferable to photocopy.  Steps should be taken so that liabilities concerning libel and copyright laws are clearly assumed by the researches who use the materials.  Giving a photocopy is not an authorization for publishing or circulating

26.  Lending of materials.  There is an unwritten rule among archivists “never to lend a document”.

27.  Exhibits. Once in a while, it is good to have some exhibits on special occasions and for special visitors. This helps to show and to have apprized the richness and the materials available in a particular archives. Sometimes there are outside exhibits requesting for the originals of the holdings of an archives. This is not advisable except in very rare cases.

 

CHAPTER IV.

SOME COMMON CONCERNS

 

HOW DO I WEED OUT THE FILES?

28.  There are always problems with space and the retrieval of documents.  In some ways, both space and the retrieval of a document could be partly solved by weeding out the files. There are some important considerations to take into account before undertaking this important and tedious job. One has to ask some basic questions: Who is going to weed out the files?  What criteria should I use?  What about duplicates?  What about documents available somewhere else?

29.  Who has power to do the weeding of the files?  This should be done by the senior archivist with a long experience in archival work.  It is not a good policy to have only one person decide to throw away or burn papers without consulting another senior member of the congregation, e.g. the Superior General or the Secretary General or the Provincial Visitor. This is especially true for an eager new archivist.  The best practice is to set up a committee of three for deciding which materials to thin out. Remember, once a document is destroyed, you do not have it.  If undecided, keep and you can have a look later on.

30.  How regularly should I weed out the files? Weeding out the files is one of those jobs, like filing or defrosting the fridge, that should be done regularly before there is a big backlog.  An annual weeding of the file is advisable .  Otherwise time will be lost later on and additional filing cabinets will have to be bought to take care of files that should not be there.

31.  It is very probable that there was no weeding out of the files before the documents were sent to the archives.  In this case, if there is no time, one has to keep all the files or to destroy most of them based on the assurance that the documents exist somewhere else.  Again one has to decide based on the type of documents being considered and the possibility of copies being kept somewhere else.

32.  A policy on weeding should be made on a senior level of the community.  This should include who and what documents should be kept or destroyed.  For example, there should be a policy on what to do with duplicates copies of agenda, minutes, and documents with a great probability of being kept in other departments.

33.  The two helpful rules are: 1) to destroy only those documents which you know for certain are stored elsewhere; 2) to keep a document you are in doubt until you have consulted colleagues with a better understanding of the issue in question.

HOW TO USE MODERN TECHNOLOGY

CD, Microfilm, DVD, Mini-disk, Internet storage, e-mail, etc.?

34.  The use of modern technology for storage, conservation and communications is encouraged in the archives with some safety precautions.  In one of our meetings in Rome in 2001, a speaker with vast experience in the use of the Microfilm and the CD, cautioned the archivists to see to it that they study their needs, examine the market and take the necessary precautions to be sure that the documents are indeed well stored or well protected.

There are many places to seek advice (please see list of Web pages: Appendix V) but the following rules for documents are helpful.

35.  E-Mail.  All copies of electronic communications sent through fax or e-mail should be checked once in a while, maybe every two to three years.  If there are evidences that the letters are disappearing, take the precaution, either by making another copy, or by putting the document on CD or microfilm.

36.  Important documents sent by fax or e-mail should be re-sent as hard copy by ordinary mail. The hard copy sent by ordinary mail should then be duly signed by the person or persons concerned.

37.  CD, DVD, floppy discs, etc. These should be stored in various containers which are available in the market, identified properly, the programs marked, computer models identified and stored in stable temperatures.  Once in a while, every year, check the CD, DVD, discs to see if they are alright. It may happen that these materials are stored in a box and never opened for several years only to find out that the contents were erased.

38.  Microfilm vs. CD. There is no doubt that the wave of the future belongs to CDs but it does not mean that the Microfilms should be thrown away.  As of this writing the CD is still more expensive but within a few years, it will become cheaper. The great advantage of CD is the space-saving qualities and the ease of access.

39.  Database.  There are many database programs that are available in the market or a good programmer can customize for communities. But the best practice is to use readily available programs like ACCESS so that when there are problems these can be solved easily.  Moreover, when there is a need of exchanging information, the more available the programs are, the greater the chance that the other members of the congregation can use it.

HOW DO I KEEP UP TO DATE?

40.  How do I keep up to date?  If you live in a fairly large city or town, it is easy enough to find time, persons and places to keep oneself updated.  It is a good idea to join an association of archivists in your area; if there is no association, try to convince other religious archivists to join you in founding an organization.  It is important to have contact with other archivists who are also trying to develop the archives of the congregation.  Moreover, there are many web sites that are very rich sources for an archivist.

41.  Is also a source of satisfaction for a member of a congregation to help out in remote areas where they are assigned.  Many parishes, dioceses, religious congregations need help in setting up their archives and an association of archivists could well be a good beginning for having a community extension or apostolate for a religious archivist.

42.  In some countries there are national groups that deal with religious archives.  The “Archives de l’Eglise de France” is a very good example that offers help and consultation to religious archivists.

WHEN DO I FILE MY DOCUMENTS?

43.  The best practice is to file new documents regularly, e.g. every three days, every week, etc.  This presumes that you have already a well-established system and that the flow of documents from the secretariat to the archives is regularly done.  In any case, as soon as new documents are available, identify them, sort them, and assign a code where they will be placed.

HOW DO I DEAL WITH RESEARCHERS?

44.  Researchers are very important persons for archivists because of the work they do in relation to our congregation and the inspiration they find.  However most religious archivists are busy people, part-time. It should be made clear to researchers at the very first meeting that the religious archives are private archives. They should be given a written policy for researchers use of the archives. (please see Appendix I for sample guidelines).

The schedule should also be respected by the researchers who are generally very eager to spend the whole working day in the archives.  Religious archivist has to consider personal and community commitments.

MODERN TOPICS

45.  How to accommodate modern topics e.g. feminism, ecumenism, globalization, environment, etc.? As a general rule, these belong to the library but if the archives is at the same time a library, these special or modern topics should be stored or filed depending on the importance of the documents, their provenance, their value to the order or congregation. For example a document on “globalization” coming from the Holy Father, should be filed among the documents of the Holy See and given a special code. A document on the environment coming from the United Nations should be filed under civil documents under the sub-section on the United Nations.  If this same document is very significant or important for the order or congregation, a cross reference should be made in section of the community apostolate indicating that such document exists under the section of the United Nations. If the document about “globalization” was generated by the General Curia, such a document should be filed among the General Curia documents with a sub-section on globalization.  However if there are so many documents on globalization and the order or congregation feels that they have to be greatly involved in this field, then a special section/special box could be created.  The main thing to remember is ease of retrieval and accessability of these documents. However, documents readily available on the Web or the institution/organization involved do not need to be kept in our archives.

HOW DO I DEAL WITH MULTIPLICITY OF LANGUAGES?

46.  How do I deal with the multiplicity of languages? As pointed out in the beginning of this handbook, an archivist should preferably know the language of the founder, or at least one current official language of the order. However communications to the Provinces are generally done in three official languages of the order, so the provincial archivist should indicate the preferred language wherein communications should be sent. If there are communications from other provinces in a language unknown to the archivist he should have the courtesy at least to know the content by asking someone who knows the foreign language before throwing them into the waste basket.

HOW DO I PREPARE MY SUCCESSOR FOR THE ARCHIVES?

47.  This greatly depends on the Visitor and the needs of the Province.  Most congregations cannot afford to have a professional archivist but many are aware that there is some sort of on-the-job training and courses that could greatly help.

Some of the best practices mentioned in many of our archivists meetings are:

1)         A good system and continuous maintenance of the archives are the best guarantee for a relatively easy work atmosphere for the future successor archivist.

2)         Several months of on-the-job training with the out-going archivist will help to ensure that the system and the documents are well-kept;

3)         There are some short term courses in many big cities and these are helpful not only for the information but also for confidence building;

4)         An in-coming archivist can start attending the meetings of associations to which the congregation belongs in order to meet the other archivists in the area;

5)         There are some very good books available in print and also in the Internet for those who are interested in learning the theories and practice of archivists.

6)         Be sure that the in-coming archivist arrives before the out-going one so that the various documents and information are clearly transferred.

WHAT EQUIPMENT TO BUY?

48.  Certainly, many archives will have the boxes, the papers, the pencils, the archives seals, the computers, etc.  Depending on the size of the archives, more equipment could be added little by little: scanners, photocopying machines, fax, camera, etc.  Most of this equipment is already available in the secretariat so there is no need of duplicating machines which would not be used too often, unless the archives are housed in a building or city separate from the provincial administrator.

The best practice in this area:

1)         Archivists should be aware of new equipment available in the market;

2)         Equipment for storage, photocopying, document protection, e.g. temperature control, fire control, etc. should be updated.

3)         Visits to other archives will also show the time-saving use of some new equipments.

4)         In general, purchase the best available equipment in the market, especially in the field of electronics, because after a little while most of the cheaper models will be out of spare parts.

5)         Any new technology for document storage should be studied and if affordable, bought.  The features on CD’s should be clarified as to format, readability, etc.

6)         A Scanner is one of the promising equipment of the future.  A very good machine if affordable should already be available in an average size archives.

APPENDIX  I

ARCHIVES POLICY

 

Persons who have permission to do research in the Archives are asked to note the following:

1.         These are private Archives and are not open to the public.  No person therefore has a right to access.

2.         There is a fifty-year moratorium on confidential material in the archives. This means that a person doing research in 2003 may not have access to materials any later than 1953.

3.         Some material in the Archives, even material from earlier than fifty years ago, may be deemed confidential by the Archivist and it may not be made available for research.

4.         To avoid documents being misplaced:

a) Items from only one Archive Box may be removed at any time;

b) Only one envelope may be brought to the table at a time;

c) If documents in the envelope are in chronological order they must be kept in that order.

d) If within an envelope there are sub-divisions, indicated by papers being clipped together, or by being kept in folders, such sub-divisions must be respected when dealing with the material;

5.      A written request to use the Archives should be accompanied by a letter of the Bishop or the University President, as the case may require.

6.      A copy of the researcher’s findings should be sent to the Archives after a reasonable period of time.

7.         Photocopies are charged at a rate of _____ (cents) per item.

8.         Researchers coming with their lap-top computers is to be encouraged once the archivist is aware of the nature of the research.  Making good use of the computer while doing research shortens the time and reduces the photocopying.

APPENDIX  II

APPLICATION TO USE THE ARCHIVES

 

FIRST NAME (Please print)  __________________________;

 

LAST NAME  ___________________

 

ADDRESS  _______________________________; City  _____________ Country  ______

 

PHONE  _________________________________; E.MAIL  ______________________

 

INSTITUTION OR ORGANIZATION OF AFFILIATION  _______________________

____________________________________________________________________

 

REFERENCES

 

FIRST NAME  ____________________________

 

LAST NAME  _____________________________

 

ADDRESS  _____________________________;  TELEPHONE  __________________

 

TOPIC OF RESEARCH  __________________________________________________

 

SIGNATURE  ___________________________;  DATE  ___________________________

 

(Please attach a sheet to put down documents used including code numbers)

APPENDIX  III

ORGANIZING THE ARCHIVES: THE INITIAL STAGE

            I.1. COLLECTING ALL THE ARCHIVES TOGETHER.  From experience, many archivists have found out that the materials for a religious archives are scattered in various offices of the congregation.  After the decision finally to set up the archives is reached, the first step is throughly and discretely to explore all possible offices, cupboards, lofts and less obvious places, not counting the principal’s or secretary’s filing cabinets.

I.2. It is important to gather all materials of archival value, including photographs, printed , papers, relics, souvenirs and objects of historical value. Some of these materials may not be archival materials “per se” but they need to be collected, preserved and not dispersed in various locations.

I.3. It is advisable that the archivist read about the history of the institution and so become familiar with its foundation, objectives, ancillary bodies, work, personnel and so on. The minute books of the governing body or annual reports, the committee reports, administrative structure, the principal and significant persons should be studied if there is no published history.

II.1.  IDENTIFY THE CONTAINERS.  Once all the boxes, plastic bags and other containers are gathered in one place, the archivist is faced with the daunting task of deciding what to do next. This is true for a trained archivist and much more so for an untrained newcomer. But one has to proceed otherwise documents can deteriorate.

Identify each container one at a time, note its type, where it came from and to give it a temporary number; thus 1 and 2 black plastic bags from storerooms; 3 cartons from the loft; 4 files from the general office, etc.  You may have dozens of these containers.

II.2. Reasons. There are many reasons why one has to do this tedious job first. The main reason is that the place where the containers and their contents were found will throw light on the provenance and inter-relation of records within them. In addition, one will not lose track of these documents if the boxes are numbered.

III.1.  DESCRIBE THE DOCUMENTS.  At this stage, resist the temptation to do any sorting. It may appear that after a cursory examination, some materials including books and papers in a series are interconnected but do not sort at this time.

III.2. Make a list of the contents of each container. There may be a need of making bundles or placing the documents in temporary folders but again, do not sort.  Even if it is clear that the documents are pretty mixed up, you have to go through the process of describing the documents in order later on to identify their provenance and discover the missing documents.

IV.1.  TRANSFER OF MATERIALS TO MORE ACCESSIBLE CONTAINERS.  This intermediate step is necessary in order to prepare for the initial sorting of documents. For after the preliminary description of containers and their content has been completed, the archivist needs to have a visual check of the materials. For this purpose open-top cartons are quite suitable.

IV.2. If the contents are numerous, a temporary numbering may be necessary to keep track of the records but it will be sufficient to describe the content in general terms, especially if they are similar in character.

IV.3. The archivist should keep her/ his eyes open in order to begin to identify series and related records and omissions. For example, it is common for the Accounting Office to keep their records separate from other administrative records.

IV.4. The archivist will tactfully bring this up with the accountants or treasurers noting the omissions and the need of transferring relevant records or note this location elsewhere. This is the right time to persuade officers to transfer non-current records into the archives because the degree of interest, if not enthusiasm, affect the officers. If this is not done when the decision is to set archives was made, the interest can quickly evaporate.

In summary, try to search and bring together all potential archive material and historical objects, note their containers, number and describe roughly the contents, transfer materials to more accessible boxes, noting the original containers.  Only after these steps, can you start sorting.

 

APPENDIX  IV

RECOMMENDED SYSTEM OF CLASSIFICATION

 

A. FOUNDATION. Anything pertaining to the Founder, Spirit and End of the order.

B. RELATIONS WITH ECCLESIASTICAL AUTHORITIES

Documents from the Holy See, Bishops, Nuncio, Episcopal Conference.

C. RELATIONS WITH CIVIL AUTHORITIES

D. RELATIONS WITH THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY

F. GENERAL ADMINISTRATION

General Assemblies.

Constitutions, custom books, privileges.

Circular letters of the Superior General.

Communications from the General Curia.

Visitations by the Superior General or Delegate.

G. PROVINCIAL ADMINISTRATION

Letters and communications from the Provincial to the Superior General and Curia.

Letters to individual confreres and houses.

Provincial Assemblies, workshops.

Other Provinces.

Vincentian Conferences, VSI, SIEV, Association of Visitors, etc.

H. PERSONNEL

Biography, genealogy, professional and personal papers.

I. FORMATION: Minor Seminary, novitiate, Major seminary, ongoing formation.

K. SPIRITUAL LIFE: documents from the Holy See, Congregation Curia, Councils, etc.

L. MISSIONS: Missio ad Gentes, parish missions.

M. MIRACULOUS MEDAL: history, other devotions.

N. TEMPORALITIES: properties, constructions, contracts.

P. COMMUNITY PUBLICATIONS: Annales, Vincentiana, Nuntia.

Q. HISTORY. History of the Congregation, History of Provinces and Houses.

R. TRANSLATION PROJECTS

T. INDIVIDUAL HOUSES/APOSTOLATE

U. OTHER PROVINCES

V. ARCHIVES

NB.1.  Depending on the number of documents, each groupings (letters A-V) should be subdivided chronologically, geographically, etc. for example: F-IV.90=letters of Fr. General in 1990.

2.         The Archives should have this outline in a folder, even if some of the groupings (letters A-V) are not filled up with any document.

3.         Please make sure to file your documents at least once a week.

4.         Please have an accession notebook/folder where you can list new documents/materials.

APPENDIX  V

WEB SITES AND OTHER RESOURCES

 

Archives Association of British Colombia                             aabc.bc.ca/aabc/toolkit.html

The Getty Information Institute                                            www.schistory.org/getty/

Archival Internet Resources                                                   www.tulane.ed/-1miller/ArchivesResources.html

Catholic Archives Society (U.K)                                            www-catholic-history.org.uk/

The Society of American Archivists                                      www.archives.org/

NARA (National Archives and Records Administration)      www.archives.gov/

International Council of archives                                            www.ica.org/

Bibliotecario                                                                            www.italianisticaonline.it

Biblioteconomia Digitale                                                         www.cilea.it

Siti Web                                                                                  Http://web.tiscali.it

Biblioteca Electronica Cristiana                                              www.multimedios org/

Bibliioteca de la Universidad de Deusto                                 http://ipac.deusto.es/

 

Rev. Rolando S. DelaGoza, C.M.

Rome, Italy

2004