For your viewing pleasure, here's a shot of the Files' current "tomb." This is how they looked when they originally were given to Special Collections, by a special Deed of Gift from Dr. James and Mrs. Anne Robinson:
Upon receiving the box, my first task was to survey its contents. This is important, because it helps an archivist get a sense of how the series should be arranged. As can be seen from the below picture, the contents of a collection may not arrive in an order that's conducive to helping researchers easily figure out which of the files might be useful to their project.
The second purpose of the survey is to aid the archivist in understanding what the preservation issues in a given collection might be. On that note, the following picture shows a professional archivist toolkit. Believe me, it can get a lot more complicated than this little kit might suggest to try and preserve photos, records, and assorted ephemera for future generations....but this at least gets us off to a good start! The most serious issues I've encountered thus far with these records are fragile materials (such as aging carbon paper), and documents which have been seriously bent due to improper storage practices. However, Special Collections will be working hard to restore these materials so that they can be easily used by researchers.
I look forward to writing more next week, and will keep you all posted as to our progress in processing this amazing collection. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions about our work here. I'll do my best to answer them!
Time grows short and my summer CCEPS projects edge closer to completion. It has been a very productive and satisfying week working with the Finkle maps and blueprints -- pieces from all states but California have been organized into folders and their data entered into Archivists' Toolkit. Now I am slowly distributing the giant California pile into smaller piles around the room. I have been trying to stick to my inventory categories in deciding where to place the items, but in many cases I have seen new patterns emerge in the papers themselves that have led me to rename an existing inventory entry or regroup items according to different criteria as I go.
To accommodate my many California piles I have had to take advantage of every available surface, and have also improvised several new flat areas using the office chairs-
This is a neat item from the King's River project in central California - a list of lumber for a bridge over the river, with a date stamp of August 10, 1906 -
Overall, I am looking forward to having this project finished and rehoused just for the satisfaction of having it done, but also know that I will miss coming to the library every day to take on an archiving challenge!
This week I finally have some end results that I can share - the Padua Hills Theatre Collection is now uploaded to the CCDL's City of Claremont History Collection page! You can search for 'Mexican Players' or 'Padua Hills' and the playbills and fliers will come up along with a few postcards and photographs. Please visit and explore. It was difficult choosing which pieces to digitize, but I think I have a good selection that represents the large span of time, and you can see the lettering and design element changes corresponding to larger cultural design shifts over the decades.
After uploading the Padua Hills material, I returned to the 24 folders of Finkle papers, and began sorting material according to state (with moving help from the Special Collections staff - thanks, Ayat, Tanya, and Lisa!). Now I have the CCEPS room tables covered with piles of maps and blueprints, with California's pile being the highest by far. I'll look forward to continuing with this next week, when I will have to come up with a more comprehensive and detailed plan to refine the collection sorting even further. It will be very satisfying and wonderful to get these into a workable order!
I have been taking more photos as I sort through the piles this time - many of the blueprints are striking as works of industrial engineering art, although (to me) incomprehensible as work plans. And some of the maps are just stunning. I'm including my favorites below, as well as my favorite placename - Get There Ditch, in Boulder County, Colorado.
Beautiful colors for Gore Canyon, Colorado:
Snoqualmie River and Falls area in Washington:
The Main Cables for the Power House at Bull Run River, Oregon:
The first accomplishment of the week was creating a finding aid in Archivists' Toolkit, which was even more gratifying when I got to see a copy printed out for proofreading. I also got started with scanning, beginning with some of the photos and postcards featuring images of the theater and the Mexican Players and then moving on to the advertisement fliers. Then we went over metadata entry for items as they will be cataloged in the City of Claremont History Collection at the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. I took a lot of notes on what information to put where, and with the help of a few templates I was able to get a majority of the fliers and their metadata uploaded on Thursday. Next week I will get finish with the fliers and also get the playbills and newsletters scanned and uploaded.
Many of the steps will have to be revisited when I finally have a completed folder count and numbering system in place, and then I will add the final numbers into each record on both Archivists' Toolkit and the metadata fields in the digitized records. I have been hesitant to move forward with the numbering part until we know exactly how many additional newsletters from Carpe Diem we will end up with. There are 23 total that could be coming in, which could be divided into several folders depending on the years represented. It will just be easier to wait for the items to be in hand than to build around them, but it is very unsatisfying to leave information out of all the cataloging entries knowing that I will have to go back through every one later! Especially since I only have about three weeks left to work, and a lot of Finkle maps to move around!
I also had my first in-depth encounter with Archivists' Toolkit, and hope I will be able to keep my children and siblings straight when I get into it for real with my big plans.
And now for some nice surprises!
A bookseller at Carpe Diem in Walnut has some copies of Padua Hills News Notes she said she would be willing to exchange for some of the extra Padua Hills materials we will be weeding out, and it sounds like they will be a nice addition to the collection with some missing years represented.
Additionally, there was another file here in Special Collections containing many more items relating to Padua Hills, including clippings, printed brochures, and several more advertisement fliers including one from 1938 - the earliest in the collection - and two larger lobby card-sized items. Lisa Crane helped me come up with an additional series to my completed arrangement that could accommodate the added material, and I was able to complete re-housing the entire contents of the box with the exception of the News Notes, which will wait until we see what comes in from the bookseller.
I was also glad to find in the file a copy of a very good 1995 article by historian Matt Garcia about the Mexican Players, which has proved very enlightening and helpful in writing the biographical/historical context for the finding aid -"'Just Put on That Padua Hills Smile": The Mexican Players and the Padua Hills Theatre, 1931-1974". California History 74 (3): 244-261. I recommend it to anyone interested in the theatre and local history.
Unfortunately, I still have not come across any clues about the identity of the person who created the collection, but I suppose something could still turn up.
Next week I will continue working on the description for the collection to be added to the finding aids for both collections, and will also get back into Archivists' Toolkit to practice navigating and updating the pages for Finkle. Until then, a happy Fourth of July holiday to all.
First, thanks to Special Collections Librarian emerita Jean Beckner for locating several folders with Finkle-related clippings and notes. One particularly delightful factoid I was pleased to learn is that Fred Finkle built a Finkle Building in downtown Los Angeles to house his offices, and which was also home to the Hotel Snow (see photo). He also built several apartment buildings, including the Finkle Arms at 9th and Figueroa and Finkle Manor. What wonderful names!
Finkle's reputation as an expert engineer and geologist is reflected in these stacks of disorganized blueprints; while working mainly for Edison Electric Co., Finkle designed and built seven hydroelectric projects while consulting for companies in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, as well as other companies in Central and Southern California. The dates on the blueprints for these projects often overlap or run closely together, evidence his skills were widely respected and in high demand.
Finkle started his own consulting firm in 1911 in Los Angeles, which he continued until his death in 1949, and served as an expert witness in many trials litigating water rights and supply issues. He was also an outspoken opponent of several high profile water projects he determined to be defective or impracticable, including the poorly designed and constructed St. Francis Dam (a Mulholland venture) which Finkle condemned four years before its catastrophic failure resulting in the loss of 631 lives and $20 million in property.
The folders also revealed several past inventories of Finkle's maps and blueprints; there is one typewritten copy, a handwritten copy on yellow legal paper, and a printed copy that looks like it was made on a computer from the 1980s or early 1990s. It seems plenty of people looked at the papers, but they still were put back into the same folders in no particular order each time. I am sure organizing the papers seemed so daunting a task that it was easier to just put them away again, even if disorganized. I cannot really blame them!
I mentioned my next project - a small collection of playbills, fliers, and newsletters for the Mexican Players at the Padua Hills Theatre. Next week I hope to get closer to devising a schema to arrange and describe the material with the CCEPS description template. I also checked out a 1961 book called Mexican Serenade: the Story of the Mexican Players and Padua Hills Theatre, written by Pauline B. Deuel and published by the Padua Institute.
Below is a playbill from 1943 and a newsletter from 1940 - the hand drawn images and lettering are very charming. I also include a photo of Fred C. Finkle's Finkle Building - one of several structures bearing his name that have sadly been demolished - it seems the apartment buildings are gone, too. (Photo LAPL)
My first project is reexamining the Fred C. Finkle Papers in the Water Resources Collection. Finkle (1865-1949) was a engineer and geologist who designed or consulted on many hydroelectric power projects throughout the western states beginning in 1887.
The Finkle Papers are comprised of 24 oversized flat folders stuffed with maps, blueprints, charts, and tables from Finkle's water projects in California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state, as well as several items from a project in Mexico City. The time frame for the materials ranges from 1895-1931, with the majority being from 1902-1912.
My first task has been to inventory the collection, over 800 pieces that for the most part are a disorganized mess, with all projects and material types jumbled together. The folders are labeled, but only with simple labels such as "Water - Finkle - Blueprints, Tables, Maps," which is not useful at all for organization or research. Next week I will begin researching some of the placenames and other clues to determine where some of the more mysterious items that do not have titles or obvious reference points. I will also begin research for a more thorough Fred C. Finkle biography entry to add to the online collection guide. I will also devise a schema to rearrange and re-house the collection.
I hope to post a lot of photos of items from the collection over the coming weeks, it will be helpful in showing what the collection contains while also highlighting the beauty and artistry of the drawings. Below are a few items that struck me as I worked through the last folder.
The first gives an idea of the type of content and organization of the folders, with a promotional blueprint for rail car gear lubrication oil at the bottom and a blueline map of the rivers and reservoirs of Oregon's Mt. Hood Railway & Power Co. above. The second photo is a portion of a blueprint diagram sheet for Kern River Power Plant No. 1, in California's Central Valley. The third image is a graph diagram I found particularly lovely, made for the Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Co. based in San Bernardino. Click the thumbnails to see full images.
More next week!
My goodness, what a week it's been! Now that all of the non-musical materials in the collection have been processed (things like Clokey's correspondence, lecture notes, writings, biographical materials, etc.), I've been hard at work arranging and preserving the robust amount of music the Clokey Papers have to offer. While Joseph W. Clokey composed art music in a staggering variety of genres (symphonies, operas, operettas, suites, sonatas, pageants, sacred dramas, etc.), one of his great loves was choral music.
Both sacred and secular choral music represent a substantial portion of his output (substantial enough, at least, to take a full week of processing to get through it all). Some pieces of sacred choral music that he composed are represented in the collection not only in the final published form, but in heavily-revised manuscripts as well as early sketches. To see that sort of material you'll have to come by Claremont Special Collections once the processed is finished, but for now I leave you with a lovely performance of a sacred choral work.
Performed by the San Joaquin Choral, this is "Mary Wore Three Links of Chain".
Til Next Time!
...but when I do, I look at the finding aids first. (Ah, topical humor.)
A finding aid, for the blissfully uninitiated, is the document that details what the scope and contents of an archival collection are and assists researchers in determining if the listed materials will be of any use to their work. It's a snapshot of the collection, so to speak, mixed with equal parts summary, backstory, and any "restrictions on use of or access to the materials" (thank you, Wikipedia). The finding aid is typically a paper or electronic document (on the Online Archive of California you have choice between PDF and HTML), but the information contained within it can be translated into a machine-readable format called Encoded Archival Description (EAD, for short). There'd be a lot of technical jargon about XML and DACS and such if we kept on about EAD, so let's just stick to the finding aid, eh?
You might be thinking "Hey Mikael, I sure would like to hear more about what exactly you might find in, well, a finding aid," to which I would respond, "Simmer down, we're getting to that." Even though the Joseph W. Clokey Papers aren't yet fully processed, working on the finding aid along with it gives me the opportunity to include vital information about the collection as I go, instead of trying to remember it all at the end. The kinds of headings included are things like the date range of the materials, the types of records you'll find in the collection, and source of acquisition (this collection was, on paper at least, a gift from Joseph Clokey's son, Art). The finding aid also contains an outline of how the collection is organized. Typically, a small collection need only list a handful of series, but if you're me and you're arranging the Clokey Papers, you end up with not just several series of folders, but subseries and subsubseries below them (yes, that's actually a word, apparently).
While I don't have anything to show you this week that is strictly out of the box (hyuck!), here's a sneak peak from my finding-aid-in-progress. This right here is the current, though perhaps not final, version of my scope and content note:
The Joseph Clokey papers contain newsclippings, personal notes, concert programs, correspondence, teaching materials, writings, a copy of his book In Every Corner Sing, and music in various stages of completion, from early sketches to publication. Clokey's musical compositions include instrumental chamber music, suites, symphonies, organ music, sacred choral and dramatic music, secular choral music, operas, operettas, and songs as well as arrangements of other works. The collection also includes sacred choral and organ music by other composers, bound together by Clokey for liturgical use, and world music he collected during his travels.
I assure you, the materials themselves are much more interesting than my writing about them...!