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PACSCL Hidden Collections Processing Project » Blog Archive » The family paper saga continues: Reinhardt, Hawley and Hewes at Haverford

The family paper saga continues: Reinhardt, Hawley and Hewes at Haverford

Written by Holly Mengel on December 12th, 2009

Unknown size: small.

Family papers, as you may know from previous (and I am sure, coming) posts, are tricky to minimally process in the project’s 2 hours per linear foot goal. I will say that, as far as family papers go, the Reinhardt, Hawley and Hewes family papers are as good as it gets thanks to the donor, Ann P. McCormack, who, prior to donating to Haverford, used the collection to write a genealogical history of the her family. As a result, she identified almost every item in the collection and grouped all like materials together. This collection was actually processed in just over two hours per linear foot (2.4 hours per linear foot to be exact).

As stated before, if you will read other blog posts here, you will find that “quick” is not a term we have often used when describing the processing of family papers–and generally speaking, I don’t necessarily think that family papers are good candidates for minimal processing at this speed. Quite frequently, the physical arrangement of collection cannot even be completed in the two hours per linear foot. That said, processors not constrained to two hours per linear foot could probably use minimal processing on family papers and get really good results. In two hours, the collections look pretty good and are organized and usable. An archivist used to perfect processing might faint in horror at the letters still in envelopes, a lack of chronological order within folders, etc., but the bottom line is that the collection is available. As stated in a few earlier blog posts, what suffers in minimal processing, in my opinion, is the description of the collections: the bio/history notes and the scope and contents notes.

This processing of this collection produced yet another interesting insight into minimal processing. It seems that the better a collection is arranged prior to our processing, the less content we discover. I suppose that it makes sense–I did not have to read anything to discover where it should go in the intellectual or physical arrangement of the collection. That work was done by the donor and workers at Haverford who had already removed letters from envelopes. The saving grace for me in this instance, however, is that Ann P. McCormack’s book, The Reinhardts and Hawleys of Chester County, PA: Lives and Letters, Also Including Related Families of Meredith, Mendenhall, Pugh, etc. and the Hewes of Salem County, NJ, is available at the Haverford College Special Collections. Many of the documents in the collection are transcribed in the book, which made writing a bio note possible and will make any initial researching of the collection a lot easier.


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