As our intern Marc Bron leads team ArchiveGrid in analyzing EAD tags in archival collection descriptions, we get to learn what EAD brings – and doesn’t bring – to a finding aid, and ultimately, to researchers who encounter it. One observation Bruce Washburn mentioned after sifting through EAD and all its lines, fields, tags, and text, is how scrapbooks are accounted for in many finding aids. A New York Times blog article about scrapbooking gives context to what was a widely-practiced habit and art of clipping collation in the 19th century and parallels scrapbooking with 21st century information management. While the archival industry is still establishing how to best preserve artifacts of scrapbooking today – digital “clippings” a person pulls from various sources and compiles into one realm, such as a Facebook, for example – there is no shortage of finding aids pointing researchers to 19th and 20th century scrapbooks in a collection. Should a researcher ever find themselves searching in ArchiveGrid for scrapbooks, or discovering that a scrapbook in a collection may lead to something, they won’t be disappointed.
Scrapbooks in collections come in more than one distinction. Bruce found in ArchiveGrid’s search results one collection, “Scrapbook.,” at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, has materials about the International Earth Ceremony at the Hollywood Bowl in August, 1950. In formats one might typically find in a scrapbook: newspaper clippings, letters, and photographs. What we know from the finding aid is who gifted the scrapbook to the museum. What we don’t know is who the scrapbook is by. Maybe no one knows, maybe the donor made it, or maybe that information is accessible somewhere else. Or maybe that information would be more relevant in connection with a personal scrapbook rather than one that functioned for a group. Either way, (in my opinion I think) a name or biographical information – or preferably both – indicating the creative force behind the making of a scrapbook would be useful because it would give the researcher context.
So I searched ArchiveGrid for a finding aid which would give me exactly that: A name and biographical information about who a scrapbook is by. Since I saw the movie Lincoln not too long ago and enjoyed it, I narrowed my search to scrapbooks about Abraham Lincoln. Three scrapbooks in a collection at University of California Santa Barbara pertain to the centennial celebration in 1909 of his birth. “The scrapbooks were compiled by Benjamin DeForest Curtiss,” states the finding aid, and “The collection contains…mainly newspaper and magazine clippings, with portraits and accounts of the life and death of Abraham Lincoln, including tributes paid him on the one-hundredth anniversary of his birth in 1809.” Since we have studied the use of names and locations in our EAD tag analysis, this record contains a hefty amount: “Newspapers represented include the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Globe and Commercial Advertiser (New York), New York Daily Tribune, New York Evening Post, and New York Times.”
What else will we see in our EAD? Stay tuned.