All in a Day’s Processing

As the archivist that handles accessioning, I receive collections into the RBMSCL’s Technical Services department that range in condition from “perfectly arranged upon arrival” to “dumped in a box and shaken up a bit in transit.” The Hypes Family Papers, an expansion upon a small collection of World War I photographs by Samuel Loomis Hypes, came to us in envelopes and a box that had seen better days.

To begin processing the collection, I first had to find out what it contained. Each envelope revealed another surprise—various family photographs, including a daguerreotype; tickets from the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893; postcards the family collected from their trips around the world; family history research; and a lot of Y.M.C.A. materials (at least two generations of Hypes men worked for the organization). By the time I had spread it all out to sort it, my table was looking particularly messy.

I decided to arrange the collection by family member, which allowed me to keep it in basic chronological order while still grouping each person’s activities together within the collection. Photographs and tickets were sleeved, clippings were photocopied, and the daguerreotype was housed in its own envelope for protection. Things were looking much better on my processing table.

Next, I created a finding aid for the collection, folding in the original collection of World War I photographs. Using the collection’s family history materials, I was able to loosely reconstruct the family tree. An updated catalog record finished up the collection. Now ready to use, the Hypes Family Papers offer a fascinating glimpse into one family’s activities around the world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Post contributed by Meghan Lyon, Accessioning Associate.

2 thoughts on “All in a Day’s Processing”

  1. Awesome post. I love to see the behind-the-scenes action like this. It really brings to life the hard work that goes into these collections.

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