Challenges facing archivists: The Missions of AID, Part II | The Information Professional | 


Alan Walker, a processing archivist in Research Services, about the challenges facing an archivist dealing with accessions:


"Earlier I described to you the Overseas Mission records of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and our project to transform them from the unfortunate and inaccessible state in which they arrived at Archives II.

These records have proven a time-consuming challenge for three reasons: 1.) the disarray and lack of documentation for the accessions; 2.) the large quantity of temporary records found in the accessions; and 3.) the physical condition of the records and their containers.

We process the records for one mission at a time. This involves surveying the contents of each accession for that mission. Very few of these accessions arrived with any sort of documentation as to which offices within the missions created them. Add to this the fact that you will frequently find records of many different offices in a single box. Oh, and did I mention that you will find a bit of records for one office in one box, and then in another accession you’ll find more records for that office? These then need to be arranged and consolidated back into their original order. Two such missions, those for Guatemala and India, have proven particularly monstrous in terms of the sheer volume and disarray of their records."