Photographs and Frames

Hi Everyone!

I just finished my 2nd week working on the new Koike Collection. It is a fascinating collection! It contains mostly photographs and portraits from 1921 to 1948 centered on Kenzo Koike's life. Through looking through these photographs and the documents in the collection, I feel as though I have gotten some insight as what it was like to be a Japanese American before and during World War II. Koike was born in 1920 in Seattle, Washington, and moved in 1932 to Los Angeles. He attended Junior High, High School, and College in Los Angeles. A year after graduating college, in 1942, Koike and his family were sent to Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. He was only able to leave the internment facility by being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943. It wasn't until 1945 when Koike was sent as a translator/ interpreter to Japan. He took some amazing pictures during his time in Japan. He was also able to visit many of his relatives.

Although it has been really fun working on this collection and going through all of the photographs, it has been quite a bit of work! I've had to sort and arrange all of the materials and place them into folders. I also created series to organize all of the materials and make it easier for researchers to navigate. I photocopied a few newspapers and military documents. The most difficult task this week was to take out the nails of picture frames to place the photographs in mylar to help preserve them. I got to use a real Archivist's Toolkit!

I'll keep you all updated on how arranging the Koike Collection goes!


Archivist, meet your new best friend: Mylar

Hello everyone! I've finished up another productive few days as a CCEPS Fellow here in Special Collections, and I'm excited to have accomplished so much. 

Most of my time this week has been devoted to arranging and preserving the Nag Hammadi Codices Project records. Of the 14 boxes which comprise this collection, 10 of them are almost exclusively facsimile photographs of the Nag Hammadi manuscripts. Although we always make sure to carefully preserve everything Special Collections accessions, it's doubly important that these Nag Hammadi images are kept in as pristine a condition as possible. This is because the Nag Hammadi manuscripts themselves are losing more and more of their legibility with every passing year (see this link for more information:; it turns out being many centuries old will do that to reading material! Given these circumstances, the best way to make sure the information written on the Nag Hammadi papyri is passed down to future generations is to make sure facsimile image collections - such as the one I'm working on right now - are meticulously preserved.

My best friend in this endeavor is a shiny little substance called mylar. Mylar is a clear, acid-free polyester. It won't ever yellow, and when it is used to encase photographs, it is a powerful tool to prevent image deterioration (see here for a little bit more of an introduction: As you can see in the below photograph, mylar sleeves come in a variety of sizes:

mylar sleeves_blog ready.jpg

If you're having trouble finding a sleeve which is the right size, you can also cut your own - I've definitely done that this week!

Although it takes extra time and effort to place every individual photograph in its own mylar case, any archivist will tell you it's 100% worth it. If you're interested in preserving some hard copy images at home - especially really important ones (e.g. old family photos of your great-grandparents!) - do consider investing in some mylar of your own! It's much less expensive than losing an irreplaceable image!

Kruska and Koike!

Hi Everyone!

I am just finishing my 2nd week working at CCEPS! It has been an amazing experience! This week, I pretty much finished arranging the Kruska Japanese Internment collection and entered it into Archivists ToolKit to make it accessible to researchers. I thoroughly enjoyed working with this collection. It has a wide variety of materials. Some of my favorite things to look through were the newspaper clippings, some of which are from 1905 when the Japanese Exclusion laws were just being put in place. Some of the photographs are also very interesting! They depict some aspects of life in the Relocation Centers and Internment camps. There is even a photograph of the Manzanar High School band!

Today, I just started surveying the Kenzo Robert Koike materials. Although this collection is also on Japanese American Internment during World War II, it feels very different from Kruska's collection. Koike's materials are all from his time before and during World War II and are personal to Koike. Most of the collection is photographs, which are very interesting. Some are very graphic, like the photograph of 10,000 dead bodies or the ruins of bombed cities in Japan. But others are quite comical. For example, one photograph is captioned "This man wanted me his picture take. Looks too stupid to be a cousin." It has been interesting to see his journey from Washington, to L.A., to an Assembly Center in Pomona, to a Relocation Center in Wyoming, to joining the military, to Japan. Working with this collection, you really get an insight into life as a Japanese American before and during World War II. After surveying these materials, I proposed to arrange them into 4 series; photographs, personal records, realia, and postal materials.

Next week, I will start arranging and titling folders. I am so excited to be working with this collection!

I'll keep you all updated!

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

I am happy to announce that I have begun processing a new, 14 box collection: the Nag Hammadi Codices Project (NHCP) files. That is basically a fancy way of saying that Special Collections has accessioned an amazing group of documents and images, most of which are related to the publication of the Nag Hammadi gnostic text library.

Although the topic and the records are fascinating, we were dismayed to find that before they arrived at their new home here, they had not been stored in the best of which I mean they had been stored in a garage. And although garages are an amazing and wonderful thing, trust me when I say they aren't an awesome place to put your precious records. Why? Because you will likely end up with mold, bugs, and water damage all over the lovely things you were trying to save!

Now, when I think of water damage, usually what pops into my head is crinkled up pages of paper (what you would encounter if you were to drop a book in the bathtub). Well, it turns out that in addition to wrinkling pages, water can also cause rust! And then you end up with things like this:

Rust and water damage_blog ready.jpg
Yes: that, my friends, is the picture of what a rusting paperclip left on a stack of documents for years will leave you to remember it by! Needless to say, I spent a fair amount of time removing rusty paperclips and staples from this collection's contents this week. There's no way those rusty little suckers are heading into the archives if I can help it!

My time-consuming encounter with rust this week made me wonder about the chemistry of this interaction. So I looked it up. It turns out that - of course - paperclips are made of steel, and steel is derived from iron. Over time, as iron and oxygen meet and mingle, a chemical reaction takes place which transforms the iron into iron oxide. The common term for iron oxide is rust.

The good people who make paperclips know this, and so to try and prevent it, they coat paperclips in a layer of zinc. This works - until the zinc layer erodes due to humidity, water saturation, etc. (Many thanks to Shaun McGonagal over at eHow for this explanation! See for more information.)

Which brings us full circle to why you don't store documents in a garage. Garages, generally speaking, are not weather-proofed...and that means water and/or humidity will hit all your paperclips...and then you will open up a box in 30 years and find this:

Rust damage_blog ready.jpg
But all is not lost! Fortunately, Special Collections accessioned these documents in time to halt their they will be around for a long time, and many researchers will get to enjoy them. Still - I thought after learning all this it was worth using my weekly blog post to make a public service announcement about rust!

Happy storing (your documents somewhere other than a garage) :-).

First Week!

Hi Everyone,

 I just finished my first week at CCEPS! This week, I started arranging a collection called the Kruska Japanese Internment Collection. To begin the week, I read and took thorough notes on the Processing Manual, but then I began working with this collection. This collection has a HUGE array of materials. Some of them are very interesting, like a sign from one of the Japanese Internment facilities, and a tea towel, and a scroll, which was hung in Manzamar Internment Camp. Some of the materials are not so interesting, like printed web pages used by the collector to do research.

I began my journey with this collection by surveying all of the materials. Much of the collection was already arranged and placed in folders; however, I went through all of the documents, artifacts, and materials to think of a way to arrange all of them in an order that made sense. This was difficult because there is a huge variety. At first, I proposed to arrange the collection into similar categories, like having the newspaper clippings with other newspaper clippings. I was trying to create the most logical order I could think of. I then photocopied newspaper clippings, some of which were completely falling apart, like those from 1906 and 1907 about the Exclusion Laws being created in California. Often, it is best to photocopy newspapers in order to preserve the information being presented. I also sized some folders to fit large documents that were not originally fully covered. I did this to help preserve these materials. I also labelled and dated all of the folders, which took a while because there are a bunch of folders, many with only a single item inside.

After looking over my processing proposal, Lisa came up with a great idea to arrange the collection in a series, like Newspapers and clippings, photographs, postal materials, printed matter, realia, and reserach materials. Having the collection organized this way will make it easier for a researcher to find what they are looking for. Today, I re- arranged the materials into this new order and soon I will put it all up on Archivist Toolkit!

Overall, it was been a fantastic first week! I was able to work with some interesting materials and think of creative ways to organize the collection. I'm very excited to continue!

Archivist Toolkit

Hello everyone! I am happy to report that my efforts to process Special Collections' Dead Sea Scroll files are going very well. I accomplished a lot this week, especially in terms of creating records for this series in a program called Archivist Toolkit (AT). 

AT is an open source data management tool. As the AT website explains, it was developed by the "University of California San Diego Libraries, the New York University Libraries and the Five Colleges, Inc. Libraries, and is generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation" (

So you can get a sense of what using AT is like, I've included some screenshots here. The first thing I do when opening the program is go to the "Resources" section. There, I find the collection where the Dead Sea Scroll files "live;" in this case, that means I go to the James M. Robinson Collection. 

A little historical background is useful here in understanding why we organize things this way. As you may know, Dr. Robinson is Professor Emeritus in Claremont Graduate University's Department of Religion. With Dr. Robert Eisenman (Cal State Long Beach), he helped publish A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1991. The publication of this book, along with the Huntington Library's decision to make thousands of photographic negatives of the Scrolls available to researchers, made these texts available to the entire scholarly community for the first time. Prior to these events, access to the Scrolls was controlled for decades by a small in-group of scholars who kept these ancient documents to themselves. The twists and turns of this story, as well as the involvement of Dr. Robinson and Dr. Eisenman in breaking this "scholarly monopoly," make a fascinating tale. I highly recommend you explore their work - and maybe even read through Special Collection's series of Dead Sea Scroll files when they're ready! They contain all sorts of intriguing details about what Dr. Robinson and his colleagues had to go through in order to publish these texts.

All of this is to say: when Dr. Robinson retired, he graciously donated his personal papers - including the Dead Sea Scroll files - to Special Collections, so that the scholarly community could continue to be enriched by his work. This is why you'll see that I go to the "James M. Robinson" collection in AT when I want to work on digitally organizing the Dead Sea Scroll series:

James M. Robinson_resources screenshot_blog ready.pngOnce I'm inside the series, I organize it on the subseries and folder levels. I can also add notes to help researchers get a sense of what's inside a particular file. For example, in "Subseries 1.1: Project papers for A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1991), edited by Dr. Robert H. Eisenman and Dr. James M. Robinson," I have a folder entitled, "News related to release of Dead Sea Scrolls." And inside of that record, I have a further record - a note which explains that this file:

"Contains both popular and serious news articles related to the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Also includes information related to political conditions during the time period surrounding their release, and a copy of the Society for Biblical Literature's 'Statement on Access' to ancient materials."

When I'm working to describe the collection on a folder level, the AT screen often looks something like this:

AT Instance_blog ready.bmpTo sum up, AT is a great piece of archival technology, and I'm happy I'm getting the opportunity to learn how to use it - especially since it will make it so much easier for researchers to find what they need in the Dead Sea Scroll files once I'm done recording everything! If you're interested in learning more about this program, or downloading a copy of AT for personal or institutional use, I encourage you to go to the AT website. And if that's not enough to quench your archival curiosity, you can even follow AT on Twitter (!

The Week of Fantastic Photocopying!

I've enjoyed another fascinating week here as a CCEPS Fellow! 

This week I finished arranging Honnold/Mudd Special Collections' Dead Sea Scrolls files. During this process, I spent the majority of my time carefully going through each file and putting everything in chronological order. 

After concluding this process, I attended to the necessity of photocopying all fragile documents on acid-free paper. After making these xeroxes, I discarded the original records - which were falling apart! This allowed me to rescue content without keeping a crumbling document in the collection - one which could very well end up illegible down the road, and perhaps even damage other documents as it decayed. To illustrate: I recently encountered a decrepit newspaper clipping which seemed intent on self-destruction - and had already stained the record next to it a nasty yellow! Fortunately, we had an unharmed duplicate of the stained document, so no long-term harm was done. However, this is a good example of what can happen when cheap paper products are allowed to sit for years on end, unpreserved.

Among the materials in this collection that necessitated photocopying were any periodicals printed on inexpensive paper (particularly newsprint), carbon paper, carbonless copy paper, and thermal paper. This last item was commonly used in earlier fax machine models. As it turns out, Dr. James M. Robinson - who donated the Dead Sea Scrolls collection to us - communicated extensively by fax. This meant there was a plethora of thermal paper to be dealt with over the last week! I'm so glad Special Collections received these documents when it did, because records printed on thermal paper can fade rapidly with time, handling, and exposure to light - and the ones in this collection were doing so. Thermal paper is a highly unstable medium.

In case you're hankering for a look, here's an image of the oh-so-hardy photocopier on which I made many dozens of xeroxes for this collection:

Photocopier_blog ready.bmp

And here's Special Collections' well-stocked, acid-free paper bank - a corner I came to know well while I worked!

Acid Free Paper Bank_blog ready.bmp
As I hope you've seen this week, the world of archival preservation and paper chemistry is really pretty fascinating. If you're interested in reading more, I recommend you check out Michigan State University Libraries' piece on deacidification ( Australia's National Archives also have some clear and helpful guidelines on paper preservation as well (

In the Process of Processing

Hello! I am very happy to report that Week 2 of my CCEPS Fellowship has allowed me to make a solid contribution to processing Honnold/Mudd Special Collections' Dead Sea Scroll Files! 

I love "before and after" photos - they seem like a cathartic way to celebrate progress - so why don't we have a look at how the collection has transformed over the last week? Here's what it looked like when it was originally delivered to our library:

close-up, DSS original file box_blog ready.jpg

And here's what it looks like after about 20 hours worth of work:

more empty box_blog ready.jpg

Even though it's a lot more empty than last week, 20 hours seems like a lot of time to go through just half a file box, doesn't it? Well, it is - but archivists do a lot more than just put papers in new file folders when they're "processing" a collection! In fact, when an archivist processes a repository of papers, s/he needs to move deliberately and meticulously to make sure it's arranged just right.

In the case of the Dead Sea Scroll papers, this means I've been spending a great deal of time organizing every file chronologically, flagging items which will require special preservation attention and/or may need to be refiled for the sake of researcher access, and taking careful notes as to details which might be helpful to include in the finding aid which I'll eventually create.

For example, every time I see a paperclip in the collection, I need to stop and remove that sucker - it will eventually damage the papers it's holding together (and we don't want that to happen!).

paperclip_blog ready.jpg
"Just say no to paperclips!"

For the purposes of preservation, archivists instead group papers together in cute little folders they make out of acid-free, white paper:

paper folder_blog ready.jpg

"When it comes to choosing between paperclips and acid-free folders, there's no choice!

In closing, I'll leave you with a shot of the papers I've finished arranging thus far. It will be very exciting when they're all processed and researchers can use them!

Organized files_blog ready.jpg

The Dead Sea Scroll Files Rise Again!

Hello! This is my first week on the job as a CCEPS Fellow, and I couldn't be more excited about my new project: archiving the Dead Sea Files held by Honnold/Mudd Library's Special Collections! Although this endeavor is "small" by archival standards - only 1 linear foot - it's a foot which has high historic value for researchers interested in the story of how scholars sought to bring the Scrolls back to life.

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:

exterior shot, DSS original file box_blog ready.jpgUpon 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.

close-up, DSS original file box_blog ready.jpg

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.

archivist toolkit_blog ready.jpgI 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!

Home Stretch

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-


I also started wearing a dust mask after getting a headache and sore throat the first day of moving.

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 -

7-27-KingsRiverBridge.jpgOverall, 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!