Have you ever done archival history? No? Me neither – until this internship. And let me tell you, there is a lot more to archival history than I ever imagined! Archival history is definitely an established field with specific protocols…. And this week I got hands on experience learning those specific protocols.
Last week I started my internship with Winter Park First Baptist Church. (If you missed that blog post, you can read it here.) Beginning my internship in archival history, I spent all of last week and the first half of this week going through my church scrapbook and cataloguing all of the items. As I went through and catalogued my scrapbook, I was surprised that I did not find any paperclips or staples that needed to be removed. I was also surprised to discover that my scrapbook did not contain any letters or envelopes that contained extra material in it. Perhaps because my scrapbook was mostly newsletter clippings and photographs, I was able to finish cataloguing my scrapbook much faster than I anticipated.
After I finished cataloguing my scrapbook, I moved on to the next stage in the process of archival history: entering metadata. Until graduate school, I had never really heard of the term metadata. Beginning graduate school, I heard the word metadata here and there. Then, this week in my internship, I learned exactly what metadata was. So what is metadata? Well, when doing projects, especially digital projects, it is necessary to catalogue all of the information about an item into a spreadsheet. All of the information that gets put into the spreadsheet is known as the item’s metadata.
To catalogue the metadata for my scrapbook, I needed a specific excel sheet designed for this project. My director, Betty Sample, gave me access to the spreadsheet I needed. She explained to me that the spreadsheet was based off of a metadata template used by RICHES. The template contained the following categories:
· Image Number
· Image Title
· Historical Background
· When Created
· Location Described by Item
· Address Described by Item
· Original Format (print, negative, etc)
· Collection Location
· Copyright Ownership
· Transcript of Text written on item, photo, or mount
· Key Words
Considering that the scrapbooks we are researching often have connections to people today, Ms. Sample felt that there needed to be an additional category added to the metadata template, “Third Party Information.” Additionally, since there are many people working on this project, Ms. Sample decided to add another category to the template, “By.” Adding these two categories would give us opportunities to 1) input information about the scrapbooks that was not necessarily found in the scrapbooks and 2) give credit to the individual working on the scrapbook.
Learning about the categories on the metadata was interesting. While I expected certain categories to be on the metadata sheet, there were other categories I would never have thought about. For example, I would never have thought to put a dimensions category on the spreadsheet. But, after seeing all of the different dimensions of the items in the scrapbook, I realized that having a category like dimensions will be incredibly beneficial later in the project when we begin scanning the individual items in the scrapbook.