Posted by: kbenoy | November 30, 2011

Physical Reorganisation of the Collection

This week Wolverhampton Archives and Local Studies is closed for our Annual Stocktake Review fortnight. This has given me the opportunity to finally have a sort out of the records in the Smith, Son & Wilkie collection. This collection consists of about 200 archive boxes that contain records on about 50-60 businesses and a wide range of families. This collection was not in any order within the boxes and the records were all mixed and difficult to find.

Boxes in the Strong Room before the Sort Out

Sorting this collection has taken quite a bit of planning and co-ordination. Last week I made all the necessary preparations including creating lists of related records to be located and then reboxed, putting together a pack of archival supplies including folders, archive tape, pencils and box labels.

First thing Monday morning I rearranged the tables in the meeting room in to three rows so they could be used from both sides and I set up a small table with the archival supplies. About 10am the volunteers started to arrive and we were ready to start the chain to get the boxes from the strong room into the meeting room. The route between the two rooms is not straightforward and involved two lifts so we had staff and volunteers stationed at different points to bring the trolley loads of boxes through the building. This was successful and the boxes were unloaded quickly.

Boxes ready to be sorted

Once all the boxes were in the meeting room the volunteers worked in small groups with a list of related records to find the correct boxes and identify the items they were looking for. This system worked well and by lunch time stacks of related records were beginning to appear and boxes were quickly being emptied.

Records Being Sorted

With the help of some more volunteers I started to organise and rebox the records in order of business or family. By the end of the first day just over half the records in the collection were sorted and reboxed in order.

Sorted Boxes - End of Monday

On Tuesday, the volunteers and I carried on sorting a reboxing the records. We got all the larger mini-collections of family or business records organised and boxed and then moved on to the large pile of records that had been put together for companies and families where three or less items existed. These were sorted and put out in alphabetical order so they could be boxed in small groups.

Records waiting to be sorted

After lunch, I started labelling the new boxes with the start of the reference that would relate to the business or family. By the end of Tuesday all the records had been sorted and reboxed except some records in very poor condition and about 45 boxes had been relabelled.

Newly Labelled Boxes

Today, I am going to continue labelling the boxes and listing the records where necessary so they can be found before they are catalogued. I am hoping to have the sort out all finished by the end of Thursday and have all the boxes back in the strong room.

I would like to thank all the volunteers who have helped with this part of the project for their hard work and dedication as it would not have been possible without them.

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