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Cataloguing

Arrangement and cataloguing example

Here is an example catalogue to compare to your own cataloguing.

You have accessioned a new collection from Helen Smith, a local photographer, historian and artist who has been documenting the village of Market Langthwaite for over thirty years. She has donated a collection of her photographs, artwork and research.

Helen has provided you with information about the collection: she started photographing and sketching the village in the 1980s, which led her to take an interest in its history. She has compiled several handwritten notebooks and printed notes of historical research that she made while visiting local libraries and archives. More recently, she has also made video recordings of local events and interviews with parishioners.

You give the collection the reference code 'HS' to indicate this is the collection received from Helen Smith, and enter a collection level description, eg:

  • Local history research, photographs, sketches and newspaper cuttings concerning Market Langthwaite, created and/or collected by Helen Smith, a local photographer, historian and artist. Includes records of Market Langthwaite Photographic club purchased by Helen Smith in 1984.

Then you arrange the collection into the following series of records and give a number to each one:

  • HS/1: Local history research and notes
  • HS/2: Sketches and paintings of buildings and areas of the village
  • HS/3: Photographs of people, places and events related to the village
  • HS/4: Digital film recordings

Next you look at each file level and repeat the process again. Within the local history research notes series, there are four notebooks dated 1992, 1993, 1994-5 and 1996, and a set of typed notes dating from 1997-2003. You give them the numbers ‘HS/1/1’, ‘HS/1/2’, ‘HS/1/3’, ‘HS/1/4’ and ‘HS/1/5’ respectively, to reflect this chronological order. Now each file has the same set of catalogue fields, so that a researcher can assess each one individually and see how they each fit in the collection.

For each file or item you catalogue, you pencil in the reference number (for example ‘HS/1/3’) onto the top corner of the item itself and the folder or box it is stored in. This will make parts of the collection easier to locate in future.

You repeat this process with the other series, box up the items, label the boxes and store them in your storage area, making a note of locations.

Example of catalogue hierarchy

Collection level:

  • Helen Smith Archive (HS)

Series level:

  • HS/1: Local history research and notes
  • HS/2: Sketches and paintings of buildings and areas of the village
  • HS/3: Photographs of people, places and events related to the village
  • HS/4: Digital film recordings

File level:

  • HS/1/1 Notebook 1982-1983
  • HS/1/2 Notebook 1984-1986
  • HS/1/3 Notebook 1987-1990
  • HS/1/4 Folder of printed notes 1982-1992
  • HS/2/1 Sketch of St Andrew’s Church
  • HS/2/2 Sketch of Red Bull Inn
  • HS/3/1 Photographs of people from Market Langthwaite
  • HS/3/2 Photographs of Market Langthwaite buildings
  • HS/3/3 Photographs of May Day celebrations
  • HS/3/4 Photographs of Christmas and New Year parties
  • HS/4/1 Recording of walking route around the High Street
  • HS/4/2 Recording of 2001 Morris Festival

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