August 30, 2012

Basic filing tips

Filed under: Uncategorized — susanwoodland @ 10:46 am

Many of the filing problems we are encountering are no longer likely to happen in an office, because we finally seem to be creating fewer paper files.  But just in case you do find yourself filing, or packing files in boxes for long-term storage, please remember the following tips, all of which will make the life of the archivist a little bit easier:

1. Have we mentioned this before?  Don’t use rubber bands.

Remains of an extra rubber band:

This discoloration may be better than causing the paper to roll


Remains of a dried out rubber band stuck to letter, from the Executive Vice-President’s files

And just in case the rubber band around the documents themselves are not enough to keep the documents in place, let’s add a rubber band around the whole folder. 35 years later, not much is left of the rubber band.

2. How  many staples is enough?  I’m thinking this group of papers may have crossed over the line into the realm of “way too many staples”.

However did this happen?

Perhaps it was the weight of all that metal that pushed the clump of papers down in the folder, leaving the page at the back exposed to the acidity of the folder:

Note the 1/2″ across the bottom of the page that has badly discolored

Other tips to follow as we stumble on them.

August 24, 2012

Jews in Danger

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — susanwoodland @ 3:38 pm

From Sanford Solender’s 1973 correspondence “G” folder, 2 letters from Carl Glick.

This group of  alphabetical files arranged by year (1971-1977) include the correspondence of Lawrence Buttenwieser, President of FJP 1971-1974, during the early part of Sanford Solender’s tenure as Executive Vice-President.  Apparently both Solender and Buttenwieser had sent letters of congratulations to Carl Glick upon his assuming the presidency of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS).  Carbon copies of those letters were not in the “G” file, but they may turn up in a subject file elsewhere in the collection.

The brief replies from Glick to each of the Federation leaders are unusual.

Glick to Buttenweiser, March 27, 1973

“Jews in danger”?  A joke perhaps?

Glick to Solender, March 27, 1973

We may find out more if we find other correspondence between Glick and/or Solender and Buttenwieser in another box.  Stay tuned.

August 20, 2012

Task Force on the New York City Crisis

Filed under: interesting or noteworthy archival material — susanwoodland @ 12:33 pm

Sanford Solender, executive vice-president of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies from 1970-1981, served as chairman of the Community Council of Greater New York’s Task Force on the New York City Crisis in 1976.  This task force was a “coalition of the executive heads of the major voluntary human service agencies in the City”, according to the press release issued by the Council on February 25, 1976, and pictured below.

Task Force press release, February 25, 1976

Based on the financial plan recently issued by the city, members of the task force were concerned about a possible collapse of human services in New York.  In an effort to lobby the city government to restore some of the funding to these agencies, the Task Force launched a campaign aimed at public officials throughout New York City and New York State.

The letter below from Solender to Mayor Abe Beame and dated the same day, has a note at the top that copies were “also hand-delivered to:  Governor Carey, First Deputy Mayor Zuccotti” and Deputy Mayor Axelson, among others. “Copies were also sent to all members of the New York City Congressional Delegation.”

Letter to Honorable Abraham D. Beame, Mayor, February 25, 1976

Not unlike today’s discussions on what to fund with shrinking city budgets, the Task Force generated a huge amount of correspondence and reports over the next few months in an attempt to retain as much funding as possible to all social services agencies in New York City.  With unconfirmed support from the state, President Gerald Ford essentially abandoned New York as summed up by the classic New York Daily News headline, “Ford to City: Drop Dead“,  and New York City struggled along with every other municipality in the country through the difficult years of that long recession.

It appears that although Sanford Solender was already working a full workday as executive head of Federation of New York, he felt it was in the interest of the agencies Federation supported to ensure the financial security of the safety net that these agencies provided to all of the ethnic, religious and community groups in New York.

August 9, 2012

The beginning of an archival collection?

Filed under: found in the archives, interesting or noteworthy archival material — thiscangobacktothearchives @ 11:59 am

Theory and discussion of best practices abound in virtually any field or profession, whether it is social work, mortuary science, customer service, botany, or, yes, even records management.

Within the setting of an institution, agency, organization or corporation, it is the responsibility of the records manager(s) to ensure that the records of his/her respective organization can be retrieved for reference and use and, then, retained for an established duration of time, according to applicable laws and/or the retention schedule of the organization.

Typically, records (or documents) have what can be described as a life cycle: records are created, they are actively and heavily used or referenced; then there is a stage of inactivity where applicable records may need to be retained by law or for potential future use; then, after an established duration of time, records may be converted to another format, donated to an archival repository, or destroyed.

In a riveting white paper, prepared for the Association of Information and Image Management in 1997, William Saffady discuss the life cycle of records:

In corporations, government agencies, and other organizations, the life spans of documents are defined by record retention policies and procedures. Such policies and procedures are based on legal, fiscal, administrative, or other requirements. From creation or receipt through destruction or permanent preservation, documents are subject to changing requirements for timely retrieval, convenient distribution, and reliable, cost-effective storage.

While the life cycle and disposition of records is a familiar concept to a records manager, it is fascinating to see the realization of an organization’s records retention schedule from active use and retrieval to the retention of inactive records and storage to, when applicable, the disposition of organizational records to an archival repository.

The link between records management and archival science is most evident in instances where inactive records are donated (or sold) to an archival repository for future preservation and access to researchers. It isn’t too much of an exaggeration to suggest that an organization’s retention schedule of today can lead to the archival collection of tomorrow. An illustration of the connection between an organization’s retention schedule and an archival repository, specifically the American Jewish Historical Society, can be cited with the September 22, 1970 memorandum from Samuel Rosenthal to Federation Directors, Assistant Directors, and Department Heads.

Rosenthal explains that “[in] order to insure a more effective and efficient control of our records in our Archives (located on the second floor) the attached procedure are to be adhered to immediately.” Rosenthal describes the process of transferring records to the archives, temporarily removing records from their archives, returning records to their archives, and the destruction of records according to the Federation’s retention schedule.

First page of the Federations's Archives Control Procedure

From a memorandum from Samuel Rosenthal to Directors, Assistant Directors, and Department Heads of the Federation, September 22, 1970

Notice the type of material marked “permanent.” Many of the records marked with that designation (e.g. Board of Trustees and Committee Minutes, Budget Material) have been transferred to the custody of the American Jewish Historical Society. These records have been or soon will be processed, arranged, described, and made available to researchers.

FJP Retention Schedule

Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York Retention Schedule, September 22, 1970

Now, to be clear, the second floor archives mentioned in Rosenthal’s memorandum was probably not a climate and humidity controlled archival repository filled with acid-free folders. However, without the foresight of the Federation’s retention schedule and their diligence in adhering to that schedule, these important and historically noteworthy records might not be here today in an archival repository.

August 1, 2012

Writing about writing

While rehousing the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies (FJP) budget materials of annual agency files (circa 90 document boxes) under control by Miriam Gross, budget examiner, I was drawn by the beautiful lettering on a 1923 folder.  I was impressed by the exquisite text on the folders which was not present on any of the FJP budget file folders processed before.  The calligraphy was first used in 1922, perhaps to commemorate the start of funding of the Jewish Board of Guardians (JBG), an important agency to the FJP. The JBG (formerly the Jewish Protectory and Aid Society) dealt with delinquency in Jewish youth and the rehabilitation of criminals, and was also affiliated with other smaller and related institutions pertaining to delinquency such as the Cedar Knolls School, Hawthorne School, and Lakeview Home.  The AJHS holds a small collection of JBG annual reports; please see the preliminary finding aid here for AJHS collection I-302:  FJP sponsored 80-90 agencies each year in its nascent years.

The lettering was found throughout the 1923 folders as well as 1922 and these folders were retained during processing in order to preserve the beautiful text, because they were not found to be brittle (unlike the 1922 folders).  In 1924, the lettering on folders was written on faintly drawn lines that were used as a guide in order to make the text look legible.  In 1925, the folders revisited the same style of calligraphy used in 1922 and 1923, although sparingly and certainly not as exquisitely or appealing as the 1923 folders. Please see the images below for samples of the beautiful calligraphy found in the budget files of the early 1920s.

Various Annual Agency Budget Files, 1921

Various Annual Agency Budget Files, 1921

Various Annual Agency Budget Files, 1922

Various Annual Agency Budget Files, 1922

Various Annual Agency Budget Files, 1923

Various Annual Agency Budget Files, 1923

Various Annual Agency Budget Files, 1924

Various Annual Agency Budget Files, 1924

Various Annual Agency Budget Files, 1925

Various Annual Agency Budget Files, 1925

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