Last week entailed the final stages of processing of the George L. Stuart, Jr. Collection. As with past collections mentioned on this very blog, the next step is preparing the finding aid. While uncertain of how much time will be spent in the creation of the finding aid, the fact this will be largest finding aid I have created is certain. In order to embark on the daunting task of cataloging each folder into the finding aid, preliminary information is needed to frame it. Inserting this preliminary information was the main task of my Columbus Day morning.
After completing my Monday responsibility of cleaning the fifth floor silent study hall, I commandeered a computer and opened NotePad Pro to begin the coding process. While encoding information,there were several times the collection had to be consulted. The earliest date available (the oldest dated material in the collection are two of the Stuart Bibles, one of which is specifically dated July 25, 1952), the latest date available (the year 1990 is the last year covered in the collection, but the last dated material from that year remains hard to determine. The latest correspondence and newspaper clipping date to November 4, 1990, so this date will be a placeholder until a more thorough examination can determine a later object), and the number of boxes per linear foot. The latter proved to be challenging.
For the bulk of the collection, the number of boxes is equivalent to the number of linear feet and as such seventy-eight boxes equal seventy-eight linear feet. The complications begin when calculating the linear feet of half-boxes, quarter boxes, the flat file, and the oversized item boxes. Wisely, I consulted Mr. Ogreten on the matter and he provided a list regarding the sizes the boxes and their equivalent linear feet. He also examined the oversized item boxes and determined the contents needed to be divided further.
There were concerns regarding whether or not boxes of the necessary depth were available, but those concerns were alleviated when five boxes of the right size were found. After transferring the documents to their new boxes, the Excel spreadsheet was updated to reflect the changes. In the midst of the transfer, I remembered two documents I had placed in Box 79 from last week that needed to be placed in a folder and their respective series.
Fortunately, most of the information needed was available to date the documents. The only problem was dating the Presidential Circle brochure from the Gampel Organization. The brochure does not have any pictures of the building, only artist renditions, concept art, and floor plans. I searched online for more details and some real estate sites list the building’s completion date as 1989, which is within the scope of the timeline of the collection. Given the context of the provided information, the brochure had to be created within the timeframe of 1988 to 1989.
With the two documents safely in their respective places in the collection, I resumed coding the finding aid. While typing the finding aid, I made sure that those who previously worked with processing the collection were properly credited (including those who made the previous finding aid). This collection was not organized by myself and only myself: less than a dozen people worked on this massive collection and deserve to be recognized for their hard work. I hope the finding aid honors that work.
I had just finished the Scope and Content section when my shift was coming to a close. I saved my work and logged off the computer, then filled a plate of special flavored potato chips (Lay’s Fried Green Tomato, Pimento Cheese, and Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Popper flavors to be precise). After sampling the chips, I bid farewell to the staff and left for the day.
In review, two folders were properly added to the collection, the oversized items were divided into five boxes instead of three, and the finding aid was started. Certainly, work on the finding aid will continue tomorrow with the task of cataloging folders and boxes. Until then, enjoy the rest of the afternoon and stay safe! Bye!