Preparing our oversize manuscripts for the upcoming renovation means spending lots of time in a corner of the stacks, pulling folder after folder out of our oversize cabinets and trying to prepare these giant documents and photographs to be moved in a few months. “Oversize” is a term that archivists use to refer to things that are bigger than legal- or letter-sized paper. At Duke, our oversize documents range in dimensions from 11×14 all the way up to 40×50 inches in width and height. (We have things in our collections that are even bigger, but their move prep is a different process.)
The oversize cabinets have been used to house collections for decades, and there are hundreds of folders in each cabinet. It’s challenging work, but also fascinating to spend time with manuscripts and photographs that we’ve never had a chance to see in our years of working at Duke. (Usually, as Technical Services archivists, we work with new or unprocessed collections; most of the oversize cabinet collections are very old and were processed a long time ago.) There are so many wonderful collections in the Rubenstein, there’s no way that we would normally have the time to poke through them all — except now we get to, because we have to check them over for the renovation. Here are our favorite “new to us” discoveries from our oversize stack work. This project will be ongoing for the next several months, so more photos to come as we keep digging!
Post contributed by Mary Samouelian and Meghan Lyon, archivists in Rubenstein Technical Services.