Tips to make an archivist’s day…

Here are some recent musings I thought I’d share that I’m sure will make any archivist appreciate your efforts and ensure your documentary heritage has a pleasant, regret-free life!


Date all photos, documents, publications, etc. At the minimum, a year will make future generations think fondly of you!

Provide a minimum of an event or occasion name on the back of a printed photo in pen, at the edge. Try not to write hard enough to make an impression bulge through to the image side! For digital images, embed the info in the file name or in the “properties” summary. If you don’t know how to do that send a typed list with the corresponding file name along with the images or just save them on a CD in a file folder with the event name.

When sending a box to the archives, put your or your office’s name on it and one or two words about the contents. If the box has been stored in a damp location, call ahead to let the archives know before sending it over. We’ll need to have it delivered someplace other than main archives area until we can evaluate the contents for pests or mold.

If you have a large amount of material to remove from an office, I am happy to visit it in place to determine how much needs to be moved to the archives and what might go directly to recycling/shredding or other disposal. Labor Crew will appreciate only having to move boxes once!


Post-it notes leave a gummy residue on historical records. Try slipping a strip of paper inside a cover or making a note in pencil. Or putting the whole packet of material in its own envelope.

If you use a paper clip to attach notes, make sure it’s steel or plastic. If you have to use a metal clip (steel or otherwise) try folding a small scrap of paper over the material to act as a buffer with the clip. And if you find material with a clip that’s been on so long it’s rusted and/or making an impression in a packet, leave it there and we’ll take care of removal in the archives.

Rubber bands create long-term problems, too. The bands dry up and can leave pieces permanently attached to material. It’s best not to use these at all…even paper clips do less damage!

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