Now we're at the point where we're ready to start describing the individual objects that make up the archive. When we're describing an archive's contents, we can go about the process in two different ways: by physical groupings or intellectual groupings.
When organizing materials by physical groupings, we're focusing on how the items in a collection are physically arranged. How do the items fit into a physical location? Are items in boxes, folders, albums, clothing racks, or something else? How much space does it take up?
When using intellectual groupings, items are grouped by similarity in purpose (e.g. a series of documents or items relating to a specific event), type (such as photos, newspaper clippings, clothing, or other items), or any other grouping that makes sense for the specific items in a collection. Intellectual groupings may not necessarily match the physical arrangement of the archive items — and that's okay! When grouping items intellectually, you still have the ability to indicate the physical location of the objects in the collection, such as what box an object is located in.
For today's project, we'll be focusing on creating intellectual groupings for the objects in the Edmondson collection.
Creating intellectual groupings for objects in a collection
Creating intellectual groupings involves two steps:
- Segregate the items into separate groups (or series).
- Sequence the items in each group in a way that makes sense for the collection.
For example: let's say we're creating a finding aid for a collection of costumes used in the television show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The costumes themselves are on two clothing racks, with one rack dedicated to mens costumes and the other to womens. Each item is tagged with an identification number.
If we were creating physical groupings, we could create two different series — one for each clothing rack that contains the individual costumes on said rack. However, we'd like to create intellectual groups for these costumes, and there are many different qualities we could segregate the costumes by. For example, we could sort costumes by...
- Alien races: costumes could be grouped by Klingons, Bajorans, Vulcans, Vorta, Trill, and so on
- Starfleet officer role: costumes could be grouped by science officer uniforms, engineering officer uniforms, and command officer uniforms
- Character: costumes grouped by which specific character wore the costumes, such as Captain Sisko, Lieutenant Commander Worf, Major Kira, and so on
After segragating the costumes into series based on a specific characteristic, we can then sequence the costumes. For example, if we're using series based on a specific character, we could then sequence the items by which season of the show the costumes were worn in.
The process of segregating and sequencing items will be different for each collection you end up working with, but the idea is the same: determine the individual series for a collection, then sequence the items in a series in a way that makes sense for the colleciton.
Creating series for the Clarence Edmondson collection
While we won't be intellectually grouping all the objects in the Clarence Edmondson collection today, let's take some time to think about how we could segregate and sequence the objects in the collection.
When looking at the collection, it's clear that objects fall into a couple of main categories: letters, newspaper clippings, photos, and various personal documents. Each of these categories could translate well to a series for our purpose — let's focus on letters for today's example.
In the collection of letters, we could further group items into a number of sub-series, such as whether Clarence Edmondson was the writer or the recipient of a letter or what the letter's topic was. For today, we'll focus on letters that Edmondson was the author of.
After determining how items will be segregated, then we'll figure out how to sequence them. Since we're working with letters, it makes the most sense to sequence them by date.
Let's go ahead and start adding items from the collection to the document. We'll only work on marking up one item together in class today, but you can add more on your own as practice if desired. The contents of the collection will be added using container elements — these elements can be used with or without a number to indicate what level of the collection's organization we're working with. We'll be using numbers with our container elements today, and the container elements will be nested inside each other, like in the following simplified example:
<c01> <!-- collection as a whole -->
<c02> <!-- series based on intellectual grouping -->
<c03> <!-- subseries based on detailed intellectual grouping -->
<c04> <!-- individual item --></c04>
Exiting code block.
NOTE: As we add container elements to the document, XML comments will be used to help quickly identify the contents of a container. These comments are optional, but can be helpful if you're trying to find specific content in an EAD document.