Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Miscellaneous. Oftentimes, this word makes me curious and excited. For me, this word is an invitation to discover those things that just don't fit into clear categories. Upon reflection, I think its the unknown that really entices me to the miscellaneous. Miscellaneous boxes, folders, and drawers can be filled with fascinating trinkets that tell pieces of a story from another time... or they could hold little more than old cell phone chargers and spare change.
How does the word miscellaneous connect to my experience as a Fortenbaugh intern you may ask. Over the past few weeks, I have been processing and describing the remainder of my manuscript collection. After having categorized and arranged the letters and photographs that comprise this collection, I was left with five photos that didn't fit. Although I knew that they were linked to the World War II article written by Mr. Wikoff in the Gettysburg alumni magazine, I was not able to identify who had contributed them. This was problematic because I had chosen to arrange the letters and photographs concerning World War II within this collection according to the alumnus who sent them in to Mr. Wikoff.
After unsuccessfully deploying my amateur handwriting anaylsis skills in comparing the handwriting on the back of these pictures to various letters in the collection, I finally decided to create a seperate home for these semi-misfit pictures. This is where miscellaneous comes in. I chose to put these pictures in their own separate folder, entitled: "Miscellaneous photographs linked to “War Comes to Gettysburg” article in Gettysburg magazine."
Although these photos are in a miscellaneous folder within the collection, I was able to include quite a bit of descriptive information on my finding aid concerning each picture. This information will (I hope) detract from the ambiguity of the miscellaneous folder.
Another factor that will greatly detract from the ambiguity of the miscellaneous folder is an initiative in which our Special Collections is currently engaged. This project is digitizing our finding aids and making them keyword searchable on the Library website. In the case of my finding aid, once it is digitized and placed in a program called CONTENTdm, patrons will be able to search its contents- which I think is awesome! Here's an example to further demonstrate the awesome nature of this digitization project:
Say I wanted to search for information/photos of Huber Hall. I would first go to the Special Collections page and click the Collections link, which would take me to a page with all the Manuscript Collection finding aids (here's the link). I would then simply type "Huber Hall" in the search box and click enter. Because I entered the description of the beautiful photograph above as "Black and white photocopied photograph of Mel Brubacker outside Huber Hall circa 1940s," my finding aid would pop up as a hit.
For all of my love of things miscellaneous, I find great comfort in the fact that, because of this digitization project, the five misfit photographs in my collection will not be overlooked.