|Before (top) and after (bottom) (photos by Tom Ferris)|
Of course, to accomplish all of this, much preliminary work had to be completed by the Historical Society staff before moving anything. Almost a year ago, archivists began preparing more than 17,000 boxes and bound volumes by systematically surveying the materials in order to plan for and resolve any potential problems. Hundreds of items were rehoused and a master shelf list was created to help track collections through the project. This effort continued as boxes were stacked on pallets for shipment to a temporary storage warehouse, where this large bulk of Montana's historical record would reside for several months. About a month and thousands of box lifts later, Research Center archivists, joined by other staff at the Montana Historical Society, completed the safe movement of all archival collections.
|Archivist Jeff Malcomson checks on the archives materials |
in temporary storage (photo by Tom Ferris)
Through this once in a lifetime (we hope!) project, the archives staff learned many things about ourselves and our capabilities as archivists. Above all, we learned more about our amazing collections. The huge benefit of the project was that we handled just about every box and volume in the main storage area. This concentrated attention on the collections greatly aided us in two of an archivist's primary tasks: gaining physical and intellectual control over the collections. After a challenging year, the archival collections have a better storage and preservation infrastructure. And, we have a deeper understanding of the collections we hold.
If you would like to see the new Montana Historical Society Archives storage area, ask us for a tour on your next visit to MHS' Research Center library.