POLK COOPERATIVE HISTORY PROJECT (PCHP)
Local History Pamphlet Materials Using
the PCHP Subject Headings System
Lucy Sperlin & Ronald J. Baker
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Purpose and Scope of the Project Manual………………………………….. 1
Introduction and Background………………………………………………. 2
Defining and Organizing Local History Pamphlet Files……………………. 5
Storing and labeling Local History Pamphlet Files………………………… 9
Physical Handling and Basic Conservation………………………………… 12
The PCHP Subject Heading System
Integrating Locality and Subject……………………………………. 19
File headings………………………………………………………… 20
Additional Subdivisions…………………………………………….. 22
Local Flexibility…………………………………………………….. 22
Constructing the Heading for a Pamphlet File……………………… 22
Deciding on Levels of Specificity…………………………………... 24
Leaving out Levels of Specificity…………………………………… 24
Dealing with border issues………………………………………….. 25
Setting up the Files…………………………………………………. 25
PCHP Subject Heading: A List of Major Subject Headings……………….. 26
Definitions and Scope of Major Subject Headings…………………………. 27
Appendix I: PCHP Forms
Pamphlet File Conversion Worksheet
Archives, Manuscript and Scrapbook Collections Survey Form
Bibliographic Survey Form
Appendix II: Model Collection Development Policy
Appendix III: Major and Secondary Subject Headings Generated
by the PCHP
Appendix IV: Model Updating System
Appendix V: Glossary of Terms
This manual has been designed to assist staff and
volunteers of libraries, museums, and historical societies in identifying and
processing local history “pamphlet” materials, including a wide variety of ephemeral
items and items sometimes termed “documentary artifacts.” In its first edition, the manual was created
specifically as a training and reference tool for the six agencies
participating in the Polk Cooperative History Project (PCHP), a grant-funded
effort undertaken during 2000-2001 in
This manual introduces a system of subject headings
designed to provide standardized and convenient public access to local history
pamphlet materials and other resources. Use of the “PCHP Subject Heading
System” has resulted in a comprehensive union list of local history pamphlet,
archival, and manuscript materials in
The Polk Cooperative History Project
represents the first local history networking effort in
Monmouth Public Library (MON)
The Project was funded by a grant from the Library Services and Technology Act
- Lucy Sperlin and Ron Baker
Introduction and Background
The PCHP Subject Heading system provides a basic method for organizing and classifying local history pamphlet, archival, manuscript, and photographic materials. The system will not, of course, replace standard book cataloging in libraries, nor will it replace object-name based cataloging of museum artifacts such as Nomenclature (sometimes called "the Chenhall System"), but it will serve to supplement both as a subject heading system with broad application.
In libraries it will provide an excellent system for organizing “pamphlet” files, and for referencing manuscript and archival collections. Museums will find it ideal not only for their library and documentary artifact collections, but also as a way to supplement artifact cataloging systems that categorize objects only by name.
The Goal: a simplified universal system
Because many local libraries and museums operate with extensive help from volunteers, a primary goal was to simplify history-related cataloging, without “dumbing it down,” by creating a system with comprehensive, logical sets of terms that will make sense to almost anyone. The major headings have been carefully considered, to minimize as much as possible the number of headings that the cataloger or researcher needs while, at the same time, providing meaningful categories that overlap as little as possible.
PCHP System for local history subject headings is an offspring of what is known
as the “Riverside System,” originated and used by multiple agencies in
Although it took much of its terminology from the Library of Congress (LC) Subject Headings, the ”Riverside System” represented an important advance over the LC headings for those working with local history materials. Whereas LC sometimes gives priority to place and sometimes to subject, the “Riverside System” always gave priority to place whenever a place name was obviously applicable to materials. In other words, this system wed LC subject terminology to a standard and simple geographic matrix.
“Riverside System” was adopted and adapted by a number of localities across the
country in states as distant as
the PCHP System, a refined version of the “Riverside System,” subject headings
were rearranged into a tiered, hierarchical framework that groups related
materials under a reduced number of major subject headings. The list of 52
major subject headings was devised by screening headings in the Riverside
System against those in the Human
Relations Area Files (HRAF) Index originated by George Murdoch. The latter system has proven to be a
comprehensive subject headings list for the full range of historical activities
that might be encountered in any local setting.
The Murdoch system, however, was created for anthropological research
and often uses terms that are unfamiliar to historians and local history
users. The PCHP subject heading system
might be considered a hybrid of the
The PCHP subject heading system thus simplifies cataloging so that it can easily be done by volunteers and non-professionals in libraries and museums. On the other hand, professionals in these institutions will find that depth has not been sacrificed to achieve simplicity. Main subject headings have been carefully constructed as umbrella terms that encompass a wide range of local activities, and yet remain constant. The local library or museum can and should add additional secondary and specific subject headings that are necessary and useful in researching its own service area. For instance, in local history regions that encompass sea coasts, various sets of secondary subjects will be much different than those used in a landlocked region.
The PCHP subject heading format has been created for use either with manual or computerized retrieval systems. Those who use computerized systems will find that the tiered subject headings are easily convertible to fields in a database system.
Defining and Organizing
Local History Pamphlet Materials
Local History in a "Pamphlet" File
When we think of learning about history, books may be what first come to mind. But the so-called "primary source" materials used by authors to write history books are really the foundation of our knowledge about the past. Such material may take many forms, but often are found in bits and pieces in personal letters, notes in ledgers or diaries, event programs, and hundreds of other small-scale paper items gathered in what are often called "pamphlet files."
Taken together and properly collected over time, local history "pamphlet" materials should provide as valid a reflection of your service community’s total social history as it is possible to obtain. Without these items, your agency is informationally impoverished or limited to what individuals and organizations arbitrarily choose to save or what governments have collected out of legal necessity. The local history pamphlet file insures a diversity and richness of information and interpretation. It “fleshes out” the bare-bones of the legal record and of formal record keeping by groups and persons. In short, the pamphlet file can be a democratic animator of your community’s social history. As such, it should be as inclusive as possible.
Pamphlet File Content
As suggested above, the pamphlet file holds much more than actual pamphlets. It is intended to be a depository for any sub-book paper item that, because of its size and format, normally would not be formally cataloged in a library book system. A good rule of thumb is that printed items of thirty or more pages having the characteristics of a book (title page, table of contents, and pagination) should probably be treated as books rather than as pamphlets.
Pamphlet materials will usually be stored in file folders, but the file may also provide references to the location of oversize items or those items placed in special storage. Some items typical of a pamphlet file are:
Leaflets & Brochures
Handbills, Fliers, & Advertisements
Newspaper Clippings and Special Supplements
Magazine and Journal Articles
Certificates and Documents
Invitations and Programs
Small Guidebooks and Directories
Copies of Web Pages
Oversize pamphlet file materials or items that are too fragile for standard file storage can still be considered part of the pamphlet file, and referenced through the pamphlet classification system, but stored separately according to physical size or preservation and security needs.
Because local history files gather primary source material, they are created for permanence and are maintained with a high level of physical protection and security. Libraries with “ready reference” or circulating pamphlet files will have to decide which local materials are more appropriately placed in these collections and which should be moved to or placed directly into the more secure local history files. At the very least, local history files should be kept in mind when reference and circulating files are weeded or when outdated materials are removed from community bulletin boards.
What is Not in the Pamphlet File
Some things, even though physically capable of being in the Local History Pamphlet File, would not be considered part of the pamphlet file. Manuscript and archive collections, scrapbooks, photographs, architectural drawings, original art prints and three-dimensional artifacts all should be considered as separate collections. Additionally, some materials normally in the pamphlet files but requiring higher security or greater protection from handling should be moved to special storage. (A photocopy of their information can be retained in the main file.) All, however, can be referenced through the PCHP Subject Heading System.
While the term "ephemera" technically applies to most pamphlet file materials (that is, printed materials of short term or passing interest) it has often been used to define only those items which are original (not photostatic copies or secondary accounts) and are over 75 to 100 years old. The reason for this has been that special storage for these items often involves fire safe cabinets and more staff retrieval time, and is therefore more expensive. Sometimes, however, even contemporary items can become "instant ephemera" by virtue of the event they represent. For this project it is recommended that any items of historic significance that are irreplaceable or very fragile, should be placed in special storage regardless of their age. In any case, like oversized items, ephemera can easily be stored separately and their location referred to in the main pamphlet file.
Archival and Manuscript Collections
Archival and manuscript collections often contain materials that are the same or very similar to the local history pamphlet files, so how do you decide where these materials are placed? The answer lies partly in an assessment of significance, in this case significance due to the collection's origins from an individual or a group, and partly as a matter of authorship or volume.
A collection of original materials (written, printed, or graphic) produced by a single individual, family, or organization (e.g. letters, diaries, scrapbooks, meeting minutes, membership lists, etc.) has integrity as a collection and normally should not be divided up by topic and processed into the pamphlet files. The value of these collections to the researcher is often enhanced by the interrelationship of the items they contain and by their original association. Therefore they should be processed and stored together as separate “manuscript” or "archive" collections and referenced in the pamphlet files by the use of “see” and “see also” references. An archive would typically hold the materials of an organization or group, a business, or other collective entity; a manuscript collection would typically hold the papers generated by and/or collected by an individual or a family. For example, the Monmouth Public Library, having been given the records of the Monmouth Civic Club would create an archival collection for those records, which would be referenced in its pamphlet file subject headings as: MONMOUTH – Clubs & Associations – Monmouth Civic Club (See Monmouth Civic Club Archive).
Storing and Labeling Local History Pamphlet Files
File storage and containment
The usual Local History Pamphlet File (or “L. H. Pam File”) will consist of standing files containing materials in acid-free folders, stored either in metal filing cabinets or archival document boxes, and maintained and handled for long term preservation and security of its informational contents.
The dimensions, physical composition, fragility, age, or uniqueness of local history items should not be reasons for excluding them from your agency’s local history pamphlet file system. While not all items will be physically located in the local history pamphlet file, that file will reference, for each topic, the location of fragile, oversize, and rare materials that have been put in separate storage. Through the use of "dummy files" or internal "see also" sheets the pamphlet file will connect the researcher to other local history materials catalogued in the system that are not part of the L. H. Pam File, such as manuscript and archives collections, maps, photographs, scrapbooks, or artifacts.
Fragile or oversize items such as maps, posters, and newspaper supplements should be stored in folio cabinets or large, flat, acid-free boxes and referred to by the use of “dummy” folders or location notes in the main pamphlet file itself. The same is true for so-called “ephemera” items that are like material in the main L. H. Pam File, but, for reasons of age, unique local history value, or other considerations, are deemed to need special protection in storage and limited handling.
File Content Order
For agencies with multiple information files, it may make refiling easier to have a header designation at the beginning of each local history file and item label. Monmouth Public Library uses “L. H. PAM,” all in caps, with spaces between elements. A typical local history folder at the Monmouth Public Library is labeled as follows:
L. H. PAM
MONMOUTH – Entertainment – Fairs & Pageants – Victorian Tea Festival
Each item within this folder is labeled the same way, using a # 3 pencil, which does not smear.
Maintaining an Authority List
Your agency should maintain a list of current subject headings, both electronically and in paper, for its own local history pamphlet files. This can serve as an index and updating tool to your own collection. It is easily maintained using a computerized list. It should be an alphabetized listing of subjects exactly as they are found labeled in your local history pamphlet file. The list should also contain any “see” and “see also” references your agency deems necessary.
In word processing your list of subject headings and typing folder labels, follow the same stylistic format. The initial heading element (geographical) should always be entirely in capital letters and all subject headings, secondary headings and specific or proper names should be in upper and lower case. Each element should be separated by a “space-dash-space.”
Example: MONMOUTH – Buildings – Residences – Gentle House
MONMOUTH – Buildings – Residences – Gentle House
(See also MONMOUTH – Clubs & Associations – Friends of Gentle House)
As each agency’s pamphlet files were processed during the course of the PCHP Project, its subject headings lists were incorporated into a master project list for the County, placed on the Polk Library Information Network (PLIN) Web site (www.wou.edu/provost/PCHP), and provided to all participating agencies. PCHP participating agencies have in place an updating process for this master list and for a database version of the list.
“There is still nothing in the digital world like acid-free paper.”
This quote by Whole Earth Catalog founder Steward Brand helps to spotlight the task of physically handling and processing local history pamphlet materials correctly and the critical need for doing so. These materials, once processed, may serve differing needs depending on the mission of the collecting institution, but in all cases preservation must be a primary concern.
In public libraries, local history materials serve primarily an informational function. In museums, such materials may have important display and interpretive roles as well. In academic libraries, their role may be to help support curriculum and administrative goals. But regardless of their function, local history pamphlet file materials are intended to be permanent acquisitions, to be useful for the entire lifetime of the institution doing the cataloguing and processing or of the community being served, (or longer, if the materials are of state or national significance). This is a sobering thought, and a radical one in a world where most things are expected to be replaced, upgraded, thrown out, or updated with great regularity. Thinking “permanently” may be a hard and unusual exercise, yet it is one that must be in the processor’s mind at all times.
Knowing how to prolong the useful life of your local history materials is primarily a matter of understanding the forces that destroy these materials. While eventual disintegration may be inevitable, it is possible to forestall the end for decades, if not for centuries. For paper materials and other materials associated with the printed word, the primary destructive agents are:
Acid (introduced in the manufacture of paper)
Disasters (floods or fire)
Facts: Most commercial
papers produced in the
The ideal pH for permanent paper is 7.5, with an alkaline buffer.
Counteract acidic paper. Never put newsprint into your pamphlet file. Copy clippings onto specially manufactured acid free paper which has a shelf life of 450 to 750 years. If you must save a newsprint item because of its artifactual value, de-acidify it or, at minimum, isolate it from other paper materials in a separate folder or a mylar sleeve to prevent acid migration to nearby items. Finally, store all of your local history pamphlet items in acid-free file folders, and interleave acidic items with blank sheets of buffered, acid-free paper.
Never laminate; only encapsulate. Lamination is a heat and chemical process that bonds items to transparent materials. Such a process is irreversible and often contributes to an early chemical destruction of materials it is supposed to protect. Encapsulation between sheets of mylar (an inert material) is an easy, safe, and reversible alternative to lamination and is useful for protecting fragile paper materials.
Facts: Natural light (especially direct sunlight) and flourescent lights produce ultraviolet light rays that greatly hasten acidic deterioration. They also cause inks and colors to fade, and can completely destroy the information on a document.
Shield documents from ultraviolet light. Never leave documents out in the light. Put ultraviolet light shields on light fixtures in the workroom or where documents will be used. If it is necessary to exhibit an original document it should be protected by UV filters on lights, windows, or case glass, and/or it should be covered with a UV filtering plexiglass. It is always preferable to exhibit copies of documents or photographs.
Moisture (Relative Humidity) and Temperature
Facts: Relative humidity (Rh) is a measure of moisture in the air. When Rh is above 63% it will allow mold spores to grow. Almost any moisture causes metal clips to rust. When the relative humidity is lower than 35% it causes drying and increases the brittleness of organic materials such as paper.
humidity exists in relation to temperature.
With a given quantity of moisture in the air, increased heat will reduce
Rh while cooling will increase Rh. In
Fluctuations of heat and humidity may be even more damaging than a slightly below-par but even climate. The more frequent the fluctuation the more damaging it is; gradual, long-term fluctuation is less damaging. Thus, seasonal fluctuation causes less damage than daily changes in temperature and humidity. The ideal temperature for storage of paper is between 65 and 68 degrees, with no more than a 2.5 degree variation. The ideal relative humidity is between 40% and 50% with a 5% variation.
Monitor the relative humidity of your building around the clock during different seasons of the year, and develop a strategy for dealing with excesses, or fluctuations, of temperature and humidity. If possible, maintain a constant climate of heat and humidity in the building or room where history files are stored. Leave the heat on at night. As the temperature drops, especially if it is cold and rainy outdoors, the moisture content of the air will increase, often to unacceptable levels.
Consider carefully where you locate archival storage. Avoid placing pamphlet files against damp outer walls, around janitor’s sinks and basins, or in unheated basements. Keep them from close proximity to heating vents, kitchen stoves, or other sources of artificial heat. Be sure storage areas are well ventilated, as moisture can continually increase in closed areas.
base-metal paper clips and fasteners. Remove base metal paper clips and staples
from items and replace them with vinyl covered paper clips or stainless steel
staples. Base metal fasteners will rust quickly and will stain and damage your
paper items, particularly in
Pests (insects and rodents)
Facts: Silverfish, book lice, and dermestid beetles (“carpet beetles”) love to eat paper and other organic material such as leather book bindings. Mice quickly destroy paper for nesting material.
Always screen all incoming materials before allowing them into your archival storage area. If there are signs of past insect activity make sure there are no active insects or eggs.
If insect activity is encountered, consult current pest control literature as to how best to treat. It is important to treat long enough, or repeat treatments, to destroy eggs or larvae which do the most damage and are not always visible. Freezing may be the best option.
Floods: Store document boxes and files off the floor. Never store history materials in a basement in which there are overhead pipes that may leak. In any room, do not store boxes directly on the floor; store them on a pallet or on some kind of raised platform.
Fire: Avoid storing materials in a room with a water spray fire suppression system, unless it is a “dry pipe” system, and each sprinkler head is activated individually. More damage is caused from leaks, or from systems which are accidentally set off, than from fires themselves.
Consider fire-safe storage cabinets for irreplaceable items. Fire-safe storage is expensive and should be used selectively for unique irreplaceable items of clear historic significance. If your agency cannot afford such storage, the hard question to ask is whether or not it should give up irreplaceable items to another institution having such storage.
Facts: Last but not least, the majority of damage to historic artifacts and documentary materials is from our own handling!! Most people handle historic documents just as they would paper materials in their own homes. They lick their finger and push to turn a book page; they shuffle through a pile; they fold or unfold at will; and they pay little attention to what has been put on top of the paper or what is happening to its edges.
Handle documents with care! Always be very, very conscious about how you are handling paper (and other) materials. Older items are much more brittle than today’s paper, and even one that is just a few years old already may be quite brittle. Just like most of us as we get older, they cannot be bent, folded, pushed around, or abraded without damage.
Avoid unfolding papers unless you are sure they can be unfolded safely. Long-folded papers will crack and break along a fold or crease. Unfold papers with the utmost care and, if they appear brittle, do NOT unfold until you have “relaxed” them in a humidity chamber. (And then very carefully.) When a folded paper appears to be brittle, never open it out and try to flatten it by pressing on the crease.
Store documents and paper in a flat position. For most documentary material such as pamphlets and clippings, vertical storage, in supportive folders, is preferable to horizontal, because stacks of paper create weight that is detrimental to whatever is on the bottom of the pile. If flat (horizontal) storage boxes are used, they should be no more than 3 inches deep. When handling vertical files, be careful not to bend the folder as you pull it out of the drawer or box. Maps and other large items such as posters will need to be stored horizontally because of their size. They should be stored in shallow drawers or boxes, using map folders for protection so that others in the stack are not damaged when one is pulled out.
Support vertical files. Files in a box or drawer need to be supported to stay flat and not sag. In a full box they will support each other. In a partially full box or drawer, fill the extra space with a spacer of appropriate size until the box fills up. Be especially careful of files in long drawers. Use hanging files to support the files. Otherwise, be sure the sliding support at the back of the drawer is set correctly to maintain an upright position for all folders.
Avoid pushing or pulling files in a drawer to access one in the rear. Every movement of a group of files will cause some stress on all items in each folder. Try to identify the file you need by carefully looking at the tabs, then open the drawer far enough to allow you to lift it vertically from the file. This means that
files should not be over-crowded. While loose files permit folders and their contents to sag, over-tight files make damage almost inevitable when access is needed.
A Systematized Approach to
Organization and Retrieval of Local History Materials
The PCHP Pamphlet File System is designed to provide easy public access to a wide array of printed and graphic items produced by and/or about your community. The system provides for storage and retrieval according to a comprehensive, expandable classification system of local history topics. It is designed to facilitate and simplify research on any local history topic and can be used with standard database formatting. It can also serve as a basis for cataloging other collections, such as photographs or artifacts. In this way it also becomes a "switching system" to other holdings.
Like its predecessor, the “Riverside System,” the PCHP system is designed to emphasize geographic locality as the basic component of local history. Unlike the “Riverside System,” however, the PCHP System is set up with four defined levels of specificity, each treated as a data field that should be used in a consistent way regardless of whether the system is developed manually or as a computerized database. These tiered fields are:
Major Subject Heading -
Secondary Subject Heading -
Specific Name or Proper Name
The first two fields, geographical location and major subject heading, should be universally adhered to as critical components of any local history retrieval system. Because the geographic area served is usually specific to the local library or museum, and is often defined by the mission of the institution, the institutional user can more easily identify, sort, and limit new local history file acquisitions to the defined geographical area. (Dealing with so-called “border areas” will be discussed in a later section of this manual.) Because geographical names are placed in a distinct data field, the system is fully functional with existing computerized databases using a relational database. If geography and subject are entered in separate data fields in a computerized system, when retrieved together they retain the full effect of the local history access system.
Most files will have a heading consisting of one to four terms. The first term will be the geographical designation, and may be a self-contained file with everything the agency has on that locale. The second through fourth terms are taken from the subject heading list and constructed to fit the subject heading system. The second term will be a major subject heading, followed, if appropriate, by a third subject term that will be a subdivision of the major topic. If there is a proper name, such as the name of a business, organization, governmental entity, etc., that will follow, in the fourth field. In rare cases a fifth and sixth data field may be added, as described below. Maintaining this structure will allow for easy database searches on one or more of the four fields, providing consistent information and specific information retrieval.
Geographic headings (Data Field 1)
recognized geographical area or geo-political boundary may serve as a
geographic heading. This may be a state, county, or city, or it may be a named
valley or other recognizable, geographic region in which human settlement and
activities have taken place. Geographic terms will almost always encompass
multi-dimensional subject headings and/or have multiple social and cultural
activities associated with them.
Recognized, named regions that are larger than the defined local history
area, such as the "
Major Subject Headings (Data Field 2)
The 52 major subject headings, in the second data field, were mostly constructed and named as broad "umbrella" terms with which the cataloger can readily become familiar, and that will lead the user to the next level of complexity or detail. However, a few major headings are more specific than "umbrella" terms. If a special subject did not easily fit into a broader category, and if experience had shown it to be a very commonly requested subject by local history patrons, it was deemed better to use the narrow term as a major subject heading. "Landmarks and Monuments," "Cemeteries," and “Anniver-saries" are examples.
Secondary Subject Headings (Data Field 3)
The third level or data field, the secondary subject heading, is at a degree of specificity that will require review and changes to suit the institutional user’s individual locality. It is typically a subdivision of the major subject heading. Different geographical areas have different crops or agricultural products that should be added as secondary headings. Coastal regions will need to have marine-related businesses and industries and related topics in their system. Those and many other regionally-specific topics can easily be built into the system at the secondary subject heading level. It is the ability to provide regional specificity that makes this system extremely effective for local history in any area.
Specific Subject Heading or Proper Name (Data Field 4)
What is normally the last level of specificity, or fourth data field, will be names, or discrete subdivisions of secondary headings. Either proper names or names of things (events, clubs, businesses, plants, animals, etc.) always will be placed in this field. Adhering to the use of a single data field for proper names will allow alphabetization for finding aids or indices, so that materials on local named entities can easily be found by name.
If intermediate terms are needed, in order to have clusters of subdivisions filed together, they may best be handled by qualifying the specific term in the third field. For instance, to cluster all the churches of a single denomination you could modify the secondary term “Churches” to become:
There will, however, be occasions when modifying the secondary term is not enough and more data fields will be needed. This is particularly true when handling pamphlet materials from specific colleges, universities, or other complex institutions that have many organizational subdivisions and multiple activities and publications. The user of the system can add data fields for additional levels of terms at will. It is recommended, however, that these be thought out ahead and used as consistently as possible within existing major and secondary subject headings. In the following example, two data fields have been added:
Example: MONMOUTH – Education – Colleges and
University (1997 - ) – Publications – Western Journal
Flexibility is a critical component of the PCHP system. As noted above, there is not only wide latitude in the use of Secondary and Specific headings for use by the local institution, but also a real expectation that local institutions will adapt this part of the system to their own locality. New or modified major subject headings, however, should be added only when there is no other recourse within the system, and after discussion with other regional users. All regional users should agree to a change in or addition to the major subject heading list.
The heading for a pamphlet file is simple to construct. The heading will always begin with a geographic location and then will usually have one or more levels of subject specificity following. It may, of course, consist only of a geographic location if the amount of material does not warrant subdivision.
1) Decide on the geographic location to which the material pertains.
2) Find the major subject heading which the material talks about or represents.
3) Look at secondary headings provided in the list. If one pertains, use it. If not, decide on another term at this level of specificity that better suits the material.
4) Look at the specific terms or proper names already in use. If one fits, use it. Otherwise use another specific term or proper name that is correct for this material.
Write the heading, beginning with a geographic location in capitals followed by a dash, then subject headings in upper and lower case, using space-dash-space between each subject level that is used.
It may be easier to do this if you visualize separate cells or data fields, each with a particular type of information. Each vertical line on the table would be represented by a dash:
subdivision or publication title
it is possible that a heading might consist only of the geographical location,
the extent to which at least a major subject heading is also used will greatly
facilitate research, and save the time of both staff and the researcher. Indeed, the greater the level of specificity,
the easier searches will be. For
To reach greater specificity, your institution can subdivide a secondary subject heading using a comma, thus leaving room in the fourth field for a proper name. (Internal punctuation in any field will always be done by commas.) Or, it can add one or more additional fields as described above.
The PCHP System allows you to leave out levels of subject heading specificity in certain circumstances. Occasionally, there is simply no appropriate term for a secondary subject and, rather than inserting useless words before a proper name, it is simply better to leave out that level of specificity. The convention for doing so is to leave a space between two dashes to indicate a missing subject level. This practice will be common with the categories "Biography" and "Clubs and Associations" and allows all proper names to be placed in the same data field.
In both cases, the lack of a secondary subject heading is indicated by the two dashes after the major subject heading.
does not always respect present geographical boundaries, so local history files
must have a way of dealing with occurrences and places that are “just across
the county line.” To maintain the
structure of the system, these materials should be filed under the geographic
region or county name to which the material is pertinent, and be included in
the local history file. For example,
this case, a “see reference” would normally be used from “
Files are arranged alphabetically, first by geographic name, and then by each succeeding heading.
One of the benefits of the tiered system of headings is that it puts files for the same locality and for similar subjects adjacent in the filing system. Thus researchers can quickly broaden their search to other topics in the same locale or to other kinds of agriculture, for example, or businesses within the same location.
PCHP Subject Heading System
BUSINESS & INDUSTRY
CHILDREN & YOUTH
CLUBS & ASSOCIATIONS
ENVIRONMENT & ECOLOGY
ETHNIC, MINORITY, & GENDER GROUPS
GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH & WELFARE
LAND & PROPERTY
LANDMARKS & MONUMENTS
LAW & JUSTICE
MINES & MINERAL RESOURCES
NEIGHBORHOODS & DISTRICTS (inc. Downtowns)
POLITICS & ELECTIONS
SCIENCE & RESEARCH
SOCIAL LIFE & CUSTOMS
SPORTS & RECREATION
TRAVEL & TOURISM
This subject heading is used for materials on farming, including overviews of growers and marketing and state-of-industry reports. Usually it will be for items dealing with growing of any sort of plant for food (such as home vegetable gardens), or other commercial purposes such as textile crops or flowers. Cooperative community gardens should also be included here. Secondary headings will vary considerably depending on local crops, and should be created to match the needs of the user. Material on agricultural organizations should be placed under “Clubs & Associations.”
Materials on a crop that is associated with or marketed through a particular city should be placed under that city’s name even though most of the growing acreage is outside the city limits.
Registered wine regions and districts, or similar regions for other crops, which extend beyond defined local history boundaries, should be treated as separately named entities in the context of established headings.
Use the same guidelines as for “Agriculture,” applied to the raising of animals. When a farm has grown both plants and animals, place it under whichever was the dominant or primary product.
This heading is used for materials related to a one-time community-wide event of civic significance, such as the centennial of the founding of a city. It may be followed by the date of the event in parentheses.
Example: MONMOUTH – Anniversaries – Centennials – Founding of Monmouth (1956)
This heading contains information related to the recovery of historic and pre-historic materials by archaeological methods. Include sites, artifacts, results of various archaeological dating methods, and historical interpretations drawn from archaeological data.
Use for materials related to activities that are creative and life enhancing, and for aspects of the creation and interpretation of art, literature, music, dance, and drama. When a group is responsible for an actual performance, information about the performance should be in this field. Information about the internal structure and administrative aspects of an arts institution or its support group should be classified as “Clubs & Associations” and cross-referenced.
MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE – Arts – Music – Reconstituted Monmouth -
"Biography" is the major heading used for all materials on individuals and families. Because of the mobility and variety of life experiences of people, two special conventions apply to the subject heading structure of this category:
"Biography" is always attached to the geographical term representing
the largest area of common local history interest for a group of institutional users
(in the case of the PCHP, this is
Second, there will never be a secondary heading after biography, and two hyphens will be placed between "Biography" and the personal name.
Note that the personal name is always inverted, with last name or surname first, followed by a comma and the given name.
This major heading is used for materials relating to the history and architecture of all separately identifiable buildings. The information should mainly pertain to the structures themselves. Material about owners or activities that took place within the structure should be placed in other categories and, usually, should be cross-referenced.
Most businesses providing goods and some providing services will be in this category. However, because the exchange of money occurs in almost every area of life, there are overlaps with other categories that need to be considered. Before placing a service or a provider of goods into "Business and Industry" as opposed to "Communication," "Education," "Transportation," "Art," "Sports and Recreation," or other categories, consider whether the exchange of service for money provides goods with which to undertake an activity, or provides the activity itself. If it provides the activity itself, it probably should be placed in the subject heading related to that activity.
For instance, a roller rink or riding stable would be under "Sports and Recreation" because they are recreation providers. A sporting goods store, however, where you buy equipment to skate or ride, would be under "Business & Industry" because it is providing goods, not the sport as activity.
An art gallery is a business because it is selling art, but is not doing art. A pottery firm, while it may be doing art, is manufacturing it in quantity as goods, so falls under "Business & Industry" rather than "Art."
A ferry or a railroad is providing actual transportation, so should be under "Transportation." However, a car rental or automotive retail business, while providing the means to transportation, is not actually providing a transportation service, so is listed under "Business and Industry."
A simple way to think of the distinction involved with this heading is to ask whether materials relate to a business that provides goods or that provides an activity.
Cemeteries often will not have a secondary subject heading. Use the convention of two hyphens between the major heading and the proper name of the cemetery to indicate that a subject field has been omitted.
All information about the activities and special interests of children and young people will be in this category.
Use for all organizations that are not governmental. Almost any type of private organization, from a formal private foundation to the smallest hobby club, may be classified here. Organizations that are clearly related to the activities of another major heading should be cross-referenced using “see also” in the activity heading.
Material from “friends” and other support groups should be placed here, even if files are maintained elsewhere on the institution being supported. Use a “see also” reference to tie the support group and its institution together.
Because clubs and organizations usually are requested by name, they are optimally retrieved alphabetically. To achieve this do not use a secondary subject, and use the convention of two hyphens following the major subject heading to denote the empty secondary subject field.
Example: MONMOUTH – Clubs & Associations – –
If a specific organization is responsible for the creation of material, normally that material is assigned to the organization’s file rather than to the subject file of the materials. For instance, a schedule of events published by Central Youth Sports would be placed under: "MONMOUTH – Clubs & Associations – – Central Youth Sports" rather than "Sports and Recreation," and would be cross-referenced.
Organizations created by government, such as commissions and advisory boards, and government-funded projects should be placed under “Government.” Chartered non-profit organizations, however, even if they receive government grants or other governmental funds, are classified at "Clubs & Associations." Cooperatives (associations or quasi-businesses formed for mutual benefit of the stakeholders), on the other hand, should be placed under the major heading to which their activity pertains, such as “Agriculture” or “Water.”
The newsletter of an organization should be filed in a separate folder in date order, under the name of the organization. If the newsletter has a distinctive and regular title, the title should be added in italics following the name of the organization, and cross-referenced from its title in the library's subject heading list. If the newsletter does not have a distinctive title, or if the title changes frequently, place the term “Newsletter” after the organizational name.
Or: DALLAS – Clubs & Associations – – Friends of Delbert Hunter Arboretum and Garden –
Use for materials on publicly-regulated electronic communications or any entity or activity involving some means of systematic communication. This may include radio, postal service, newspapers, telegraph, telephone, or more modern telecommunication. Materials on dialects and other local or regional language variations may also be classified here.
Use for any facility in the community that is an amenity used by many people that adds to the quality of life and does not clearly fall under another major subject heading (such as churches or recreation centers). A cultural facility may derive its funding from government, from private sources, or from a combination thereof, and is open to all persons. Such facilities include libraries, museums, and art centers. Senior centers, youth centers, and parks will normally be included in the category "Sports & Recreation."
Use for information about population, including birth and death statistics, composition of population, populations that are changing in relation to place (the change may be in numbers, in ethnicity, or in other characteristics) and general information about population policy. Some materials will offer demographic statistics and information mixed with other types of information. Depending upon the nature of the other information, it might be necessary to place it in the major heading "Statistics" and to cross-reference with a “see also.”
Use for major disasters and disaster incidents, and for reaction to disasters, including prevention, emergency relief, and reconstruction. A disaster may be defined as any happening, usually unexpected, that detrimentally affects numerous people and/or their property and can include natural or weather-related disasters such as famines, insect plagues, and epidemics or man-made disasters such as fires or chemical spills.
Use for information related to money, exchange of material goods (including money substitutes such as barter), finance, determination of price and economic value, the state of the economy, or the flow of goods as imports and exports. Banking, credit, savings, insurance, and business cycles may all be included in this heading. Information specific to individual financial institutions would be classified under "Business & Industry."
Use for schools and all other material related to education of any kind. This category covers pre-schools to higher education and includes specialized institutions such as business, training, and vocational schools.
Use for events that are primarily intended to provide a variety of kinds of entertainment to an audience, such as a circus, fair, race, pageant, or annual festival. Most music or theater performances should be classified under the major heading "Arts," unless they are clearly light entertainment.
Includes information about the activities, interests, and status of any recognized group of people that is not formally organized (although organizations may exist for it or within it). Cross-reference organized ethnic groups in "Clubs and Associations" or "Labor" (if a labor organization). This category will include ethnic groups, gender affiliation groups, groups of the handicapped, or any other group of people who affiliate informally to promote knowledge of, or pride in, a particular identity.
Example: DALLAS – Ethnic, Minority, & Gender Groups – Scandinavian Americans
Or: MONMOUTH – Ethnic, Minority, & Gender Groups – Deaf Community
Materials about deliberate or incidental cultivations of flowers, shrubs, and trees for pleasure, public enjoyment, or home use will go in this category, including botanic gardens, arboretums, conservatories, or other public garden facilities. Home vegetable and herb gardens can also be classified here.
Of course, many geographical locations will be used as the first field in a heading, preceding the major subject heading. This category, then, is to provide a place for any geographical entity that does not fall under the definition of data field 1, geographical locations, as described on page 20.
In addition to named geographical locations which do not qualify as first headings in the tiered subject heading system, there may be material covering multiple locations or geographic features (such as information about rivers and creeks) for which you would use “Geography” as a major heading.
This category includes maps, and will also include general and specific information on boundary and boundary changes, and on place names and other activities that change maps, such as post-flood river channel changes.
Note that information which references a geographic feature but is really about the human use of this feature, may be better placed under another topic. Such topics for rivers, for example, could include water quality, information about fish, watershed concerns, or river boats, all of which might be better under a more descriptive and specialized heading.
This category will include all information related to geologic phenomena, including soil composition, fossils, metals, gems and other minerals. See also "Mines and Mineral Resources."
Because government is involved in, or is a partner in, multiple community agencies and amenities, it may be useful to distinguish between government activity which is governance, and that which is service. The service activities of government, or material that is only government related, often will go under other headings. Governmental entities that are not strictly for administration, but are implemented by government to improve life for individuals and/or enhance the quality of life in a community, will go under an activity-related heading (libraries and parks are examples). Information about other governmentally related services will often be placed under "Cultural Facilities," "Sports and Recreation," "Health and Welfare," etc. Remember, though, that units of oversight, such as the parks departments or museum commissions will still be placed under "Government."
Use for all programs and materials that foster people’s health or meet their medical needs, subsistence, and basic well-being. This will include information on social problems, medical needs, care of indigents, medical facilities, respite care, and hospice. Information on housing, the homeless, and shelters for them would be placed under the major heading "Housing." Material relating to a specific government entity dealing with health and welfare would be placed under "Government." Animal health materials (on veterinary clinics, etc.) would be placed in "Animal Husbandry."
While all files are “history,” this category will contain materials that are likely to be broad in topic, or cover a longer span of time in the history of a locality than most materials. This heading will contain chronologies, and also reminiscences when they contain information about local events as seen through the eyes of the writer. The secondary or sub-headings should be changed as needed to be specific to locality. For smaller communities, this heading may be the only one used in addition to a geographic name file that contains more contemporary material.
This heading is for materials on normal civic and religious holiday celebrations. However, if the community marks a holiday by some special annual celebration or festival, then materials on these events should be placed under "Entertainment." "Vacations" fall under "Sports and Recreation," or under "Travel & Tourism," even though they may be the way a holiday is celebrated.
Use for all material related to homes, housing developments, house building, housing costs, group housing, shelters, unusual modes of housing construction, or related material. If the information is data on a specific house, rather than the providing of housing, however, it should be classified under “Buildings – Residences," particularly for historic houses.
Use for material about individual and family life and relationships, and for group human relation actions that impact individuals, such as acts of intolerance or prejudice. If such acts are attributable to a recognized, named organization or entity, this may need a cross-reference to “Clubs and Associations” or other categories. This category differs from "Social Life and Customs" mainly in that it pertains more to that which affects individuals rather than manifestations of group custom and practice.
Use for all material relating to employment and work. If migrant labor pertains to a single ethnic group, use this heading and include a “see also” under "Ethnic and Minority Groups." For most professional occupations, information would be put in the area of service, such as “Law & Justice – Lawyers,” or “Education – Teachers.” Information about an individual's work or career would normally be found in "Biography." This is a case, however, when the recording institution will need to determine in which category the material will best meet user needs.
Use for all material relating to land acquisition, land survey systems, ownership and methods for claiming and dividing land. Some isolated legal documents concerning land and property, or copies of them, might be found in this category. Cross-reference maps that show land claims, land surveys, etc. Anything documenting actual land subdivision would also be included in this heading, even though the political process enabling subdivision may be documented under “Growth & Development.”
In addition to buildings or sites declared to be historic landmarks by official government bodies, most regions have known and named landmarks that take on a life of their own in research because they commemorate events, places and people in a wide variety of ways. This might include towers, arches, gates, free-standing clocks, memorial monuments, or even an historic tree or other unique planting. Official lists of historic landmarks, and property recognition such as Century Farm designations, should be included here. Additionally, many localities have ad-hoc landmarks that have come to be recognized over time, such as a highly unusual building or property. All of these qualify for inclusion in the “Landmarks and Monuments” subject heading and would be placed here unless better placed in another category. (For instance, material on a single historic building, even if it is an official landmark, would better be placed under “Buildings.”)
Use for all information about law, crime, criminal trends, the court system, and sanctions or punishment of crime. If a suspect or criminal has been previously known in the community for non-criminal activity, then materials should be placed under “Biography” and cross-referenced. General materials about a government entity that responds to crime, whether law enforcement or criminal justice, should be placed under “Government” unless it concerns a specific criminal act or legal case. For convenience, when possible, individual cases should be named in the proper name field.
Example: MONMOUTH – Law & Justice – Crimes, Arson
Use for all information related to military activities, training, personnel, or military installations. “Wars” is used as a secondary term and should be followed, in the proper name field, by the name of the war. Civil defense is included in this category.
Use for information related to the finding of or extraction of raw materials from the earth. Use "Geology" for surveyed but unmined mineral resources. Use “Business & Industry” for the conversion of raw materials into goods or refined materials.
Towns and cities, especially, will have material pertaining to their downtown, or to named neighborhoods or districts. Also include in this section special projects in the community such as beautification efforts, seasonal decoration with flower baskets, etc. In some communities, the names of subdivisions are referred to rather than named neighborhoods, in which case the subdivision information in "Land & Property" should be cross-referenced from this heading.
Any material that is specific to plants, with little or no overriding human activity, will be placed in this category, including a locale's flora, both natural and invasive, and efforts to save rare and endangered species. Other information about plants, such as might be found in “Environment & Ecology” should be cross-referenced here.
This heading is used for materials on election campaigns and election results, as well as pre-election material and political literature on issues. If specific to another category, such as "Environment and Ecology," it should be cross-referenced. Material on a single candidate, including campaign literature, should be placed in “Biography” files. Folders may be subdivided by using the date and type of election as a specific name.
Example: MONMOUTH – Politics & Elections – Elections – 1998 Primary
This category will include items that are organized in a manner that provides ready reference on multiple topics, usually in a "look-up" format. General guidebooks published on a community by chambers of commerce, newspapers, etc. will be placed here, as will lists, directories, statistical information, and bibliographies. If these items are over 30 pages and have a book-like format (pagination, title page, table of contents, index), agencies may decide to catalog them. Directories for specific types of organizations such as businesses, social services, or churches, should be placed under a more specific heading.
Material pertaining not only to churches, but to any kind of religious, spiritual, or supernaturally related thinking or activity should be included in this category. Christian denominations can be differentiated in the secondary heading field using “Church, (denomination)," and the name of the specific church in the proper name field. While many church-sponsored schools will fall under "Education" as private schools, schools which exist only for giving religious instruction should be placed in this category.
Example: MONMOUTH – Religion – Churches, Episcopal – St. Hilda’s
While most science and research takes place in "Business & Industry" or "Education," some will be independent either because it is undertaken by an individual, or because it is an independent agency receiving funding from several sources. University research, unless it is tied closely to classroom work, should be cross-referenced to this category also.
All information pertaining to people past mid-life, particularly issues about health, aging, activities, and care should be placed in this category, as well as information about senior activism and advocacy. Advocacy that is related to specific political elections or legislation should be placed in "Politics & Elections" with a "see also" reference in this category. Similarly, information about a senior center would be placed under "Sports & Recreation - Facilities - Senior Centers," and cross-referenced.
This is a wide-ranging category taking in many aspects of the social and domestic life of the community as a group. Anything that is custom, or that is common, ordinary, or prescribed behavior fits here. Trends, fads, and styles are included also. General materials on courtship, weddings, funerals, dances, church socials, and group expectations for home life are filed under this heading. Celebratory events for individuals, such as birthday parties, weddings, or retirement events are also included, although if this kind of material deals with a specific individual it should be placed in a “Biography” file. Information about individual human relationships will be in the "Human Relations" category.
All sports, sporting events, and recreational activities in which individuals or groups actively participate (rather than are merely passively entertained by), are included in this category. Major sports, even though largely for spectator’s entertainment, are included because of the active participants, and the vicarious participation of spectators.
Example: MONMOUTH – Sports & Recreation – Golf – Rotary Golf Tournament
Statistics are often published that are not specific to a single location, or that include multiple topics. They would be placed under this heading, and cross-referenced to other headings if appropriate. See also "Demographics."
This heading is used for materials on all methods of transportation, transportation providers, transportation facilities, and any other entities facilitating travel. “How to get there” might be a way to differentiate this category from "Travel and Tourism."
Not to be confused with "Transportation,” this heading can be differentiated by thinking of “people going to other places” and “what they see when they get there.” Camping vacations, sophisticated travel to other countries, volunteer travel programs, general accommodations for travelers, and visitors to the area all would be placed in this category, including information about visiting dignitaries. Guidebooks and brochures that specifically promote an area for tourism would fit under this heading.
There is continued interest in subjects like UFO’s and other unexplained phenomenon. Researchers avidly search for information on haunted houses, local ghost stories, and other such ideas, warranting a major subject heading on this topic.
Water is more of a critical topic than ever. This heading will be used for materials relating to the water supply, both domestic and agricultural, other water uses, and related materials, such as information about water cooperatives. Rivers and lakes, except for information on their use as water sources, would be placed under the "Geography" heading. Some items related to water may be better placed under “Government” or “Environment and Ecology.” If so, cross-reference.
Weather-related information, particularly that which seems out of the ordinary, such as an unusual snowfall or excessive rain or drought, should be placed under this heading. If weather is severe enough to cause loss of life or damage to property, information should be placed under "Disasters."
All information about non-domestic animals is placed in this category unless the information better rests in another category because of the animal’s impact on human activity. Wild animals in a circus, for instance, would be better placed under “Entertainment,” or a story about cougars killing sheep might be better placed under “Animal Husbandry.”
FOR PCHP INSTITUTIONS
[Name of Institution]
[address or geographical location (and governing body if appropriate)]
I. Principles & Purpose of Local History Collection
Example: “ The ___________Library, in 19__ , established a local history collection to assist in meeting its stated mission “ …(excerpt from mission statement)…”
II. Purpose and Scope of Collections
Example: “ The local history
collection is comprised of books, archival and manuscript collections, clipping
and pamphlet files, and ephemera pertaining to the cultural, political,
economic and natural history of
“In accordance with the institutional mission, special emphasis is given to ……(as appropriate, if any)…”
instance: DAL already has strength in
PHS is strong in agriculture, schools, churches, genealogical and biographic materials, industries, transportation, etc.
WOU in college related materials (duh)
…etc (after the Union list is compiled, we may want to look for both strengths and gaps to consider areas that might be taken on by one or another institution…)
Example: “The libraries and museums of the Polk Cooperative History Project, including staff and volunteers, subscribe to the ethics statements of their respective professional organizations.
“No staff (paid or volunteer), management or governance may participate in the buying of selling for profit of materials or copies of materials similar to or related to objects collected by their institution.”
IV. Acquisitions criteria
The library(museum) will acquire, for the Local History collection, archival and documentary materials that pertain to: (can be a string or bullet list)
The lives and concerns of the residents
of …(town)… and
The lifestyles and heritage of the
people of …(town)… and
Government; agriculture, business,
& industry, economics of …(town)… and
Trends and changes of historic
importance to … … … and
Materials illustrative of regional,
state or national history as it specifically relates to …(town)…
B. Consideration criteria
Historical significance to ….(town) … and
Whole collections which do not entirely
fit the collecting scope and parameters of the Local History collection will be
accepted only if the collection is predominantly related to the history of
Material in very poor condition will be collected only if it is an important part of the history of the area that will otherwise not be available to researchers and the library/museum can provide appropriate storage, and preservation measures.
If there are special circumstances related to the immediate preservation or salvage of endangered, unique historical materials, the library/museum may accept temporary custody until they can be evaluated. If they do not meet the library/museum collecting policies they will be transferred as soon as possible to an appropriate organization.
C. Methods of Acquisition
The library/museum may acquire additions to the local history collections by gift, bequest, purchase, field collection, transfer or exchange with other institutions. Loans will not be accepted.
D. Transfer of Title and Rights
The donor or seller transferring archival materials to the Library/Museum must certify true, rightful and legal ownership, or be the agent of the legal owner of that property. If the archival materials have been in the possession of the donor for less than seven (7) years, the donor must provide information stating prior ownership and means by which it was acquired. The signing of a legal instrument of conveyance must document the transfer and title of ownership of archival materials acquired by gift or exchange. A bill of sale or similar record will document acquisitions acquired by purchase.
The acquisition of ephemera or newspaper clippings that might be acquired piecemeal or serendipitously, or are field collected, will not be considered an archival collection and does not require documents for legal transfer.
Title and rights to acquisitions generally should be granted free and clear and without condition, limitations or restrictions as to use or future disposition. In some cases, however, such as oral history tapes with sensitive material, or genealogical material that includes living persons, it may be appropriate to allow limitations on use of the material for a period of time not to exceed 75 years or the reasonable lifetime of those affected.
If material belonging to other persons or institutions is copied for use in the library/museum, reproduction rights must be clearly stated in a form signed by the legal owner.
E. Appraisal, Monetary Value and Internal Revenue Service Compliance
Appraisals of valuations for tax deduction purposes are the responsibility of the donor. Library/Museum staff cannot provide appraisal for donated collections.
The library/museum will comply with current Internal Revenue Service rules and reporting regulations regarding charitable contributions.
Access to Local History collections will be facilitated for research purposes, though finding aids and catalogs. The Library/Museum will set public access hours for maximum availability to the public within staffing limitations.
Use of Local History collections is limited to the premises of the library/museum, and archival storage areas will not be accessible to the public.
Materials will be treated in accordance with current copyright law.
Reproduced copies, including film, tape recordings, and video or electronic images will be used and made accessible to the extent allowed by legal restrictions and appropriate within current archival practices, while safeguarding the library’s/museum’s interests in it own intellectual property.
Copying local history materials within the limits of “fair use” will be allowed unless there is a specific restriction on the materials being used. Copying for commercial use will be at the discretion of the institution.
In the case of Public Records held in the library/museum collections, Oregon Public Records law, or the regulatory practices, ordinance and procedures of the jurisdiction of origin will supersede other institutional practices.
Glossary of Terms
Abraded: rubbed off or worn away by friction.
Acidic: containing acids, substances that yields hydrogen ions (H+) when dissolved in water and measure less than 7 on a pH scale.
Acid-free: any item with a pH of 7 or higher, usually with an alkaline buffering agent to prevent gradual reacidification due to atmospheric pollutants or acid “migration” from adjacent materials.
Acidity: the prime factor in aging and destruction of paper items. Ultraviolet light, heat, and environmental pollutants interact with acid to break down paper fibers. These interactions are accelerated by extremes and fluctuations in temperature and in relative humidity.
Active deterioration: when the condition of an object is changing for the worse at an accelerated rate.
Agents of deterioration: the factors that cause the condition of objects to worsen.
Airborne particulates: very small particles that float in the air including dust, soot, etc. that can abrade or chemically degrade paper and other materials.
Ambient light levels: surrounding and reflected light from a variety of sources.
Archive: the records of a government agency or private organization. Government archives usually include founding documents such as charters, minutes of elective and appointive bodies, legal enactments, reports, correspondence, contracts, memoranda, permits, and publications. Archives of private organizations typically include founding documents, by-laws, minutes, reports, correspondence, membership lists, publications, and scrapbooks.
Artifact: any two or three-dimensional object, made by humans, which has historic value because of the information it imparts about the era and setting in which it was produced and used. See also: "Documentary Artifact."
Artifactual value: the historic value an artifact or piece of ephemera has as a physical object. This is in contrast to its informational value.
Atmospheric pollutants: airborne contaminants or impurities that cause accelerated damage to objects.
Buffer: something that protects by counter-balancing or moderating negative influences. Paper can be "buffered" against acidity by the use of alkaline additives.
Cellulose: the main chemical constituent of all plant tissues and fibrous products, including paper and textiles.
Catalog: the act of classifying, describing, and recording the information about an item, for retrieval purposes.
Classification: the systematic arrangement of items into groups based on common characteristics such as subject or physical characteristics.
Collection: a group of items related by subject, type, genre, and/or physical format that are given greater value by their association and usually originate from a single source or creator.
Conservation: steps taken actively to restore, in a scientific manner, the original physical qualities of an historic item. See related terms: "Preventive Conservation" and "Preservation."
Deacidify: to remove acid from, or to reduce the acidity of something by a neutralizing process.
Decompose: the process of breaking down into parts.
Degradation: the degree of decomposition or deterioration.
Deterioration: changes in the physical and chemical structure of something towards a worsened condition.
Documentary artifact: a term usually used in museums to denote any object which contains or stores, in printed, written, or pictorial form, information which can be “read” for meaningful content.
Dummy folder: an empty subject folder with a reference to another location; the physical equivalent of a “see reference.”
Encapsulation: a safe, reversible process by which printed, graphic, or written materials are protected by being “sandwiched” between Mylar (polyester) sheets. This is in contrast to lamination.
Ephemera: printed matter originally designed for short-term use, such as programs, invitations, playbills, handbills, campaign literature, and advertisements. With age, these items often gain in historical value.
Folio storage: storage for oversized items larger than 8 ½ x 14 inches.
Foxing: brown spots on paper due to impurities which have reacted chemically with surrounding fibers.
Fumigation: to employ noxious poisonous gasses to kill bugs or other vermin.
Fungus: any of numerous plants of the sub-kingdom Thallophyta, ranging from a single cell to a body mass, that produces specialized fruiting bodies, including yeasts, molds, smuts, and mushrooms.
Historic significance: to have intrinsic historic value, usually referring to an artifact or document, and may derive from artifactual value, informational value, or representational value.
Humidify: to add moisture to paper items to make them more pliable (usually to counteract folding and stiffening caused by aging).
Hygrometer: an instrument that measures moisture in air.
Hygroscopic: something that absorbs and transfers (gives off) moisture in reaction to moisture changes in the air. (Glass is hygroscopic; plexiglass is not.)
Inorganic: something that does not contain carbon; or a non-living thing like metal or stone.
Integrity (of a collection): a term used when a collection of disparate items relate to one another in a way that provides additional meaning or interpretive value. In other words, the “integrity” would be destroyed if the collection were to be dispersed.
Lamination: an irreversible heat and chemical process that bonds paper items to transparent materials. This process is known to hasten the destruction of historic items.
Manuscript Collection: materials produced by an individual or family, whether for private, business, or literary reasons. Typically, such a collection includes: manuscripts and typescripts; letters; diaries and daybooks; personal, legal, and business documents; and scrapbooks. These materials usually have more informational value when processed and accessed as collections than they do as individual items.
Mechanical stress: applying physical force against anything.
Micro-environment: a smaller, enclosed space.
Mold: a variety of fungus.
Organic: containing carbon; of living organisms (made of plant or animal products).
Pamphlet: any printed, sub-book item, usually less than 30 pages in length and lacking a title page, table of contents, and pagination.
Pamphlet file: a file or series of files containing miscellaneous printed, sub-book items that have been collected into a group, usually about a topic, person or place.
Pressure sensitive tape: mending strips that stick readily to most surfaces with only light pressure.
Preventive conservation: activities associated with minimizing or stopping the deterioration of objects.
Preservation: steps taken to slow the aging process in historic items, or to preserve the informational value of such items by transferring them to another media or format. May also be termed “preventive conservation.”
Processing: an overarching archival term for the steps taken to make “raw” local history materials accessible to users. These steps include: evaluating significance, format, and condition; arrangement and classification; preventive conservation; and the creation of “finding aids” such as indexes and inventories.
Recording Hygrothermograph: an instrument that records variations in temperature and relative humidity.
Relative Humidity: the ratio of the actual amount of water vapor in the air at a specific temperature to the maximum capacity of the air at that temperature, expressed in percent (%).
Relax or relaxing: to make flexible the fibers of a brittle or stiff paper item by humidifying it.
Reversible: an action in preserving or conserving a item may be undone, so that the item can be returned to its original state. Reversibility is the hallmark of all proper conservation techniques. Nothing should be done to restore or protect an item that cannot be undone at a future time.
Ultra-violet (UV) light: that part of the light spectrum that breaks down cellulose-based paper and other organic materials. Sources include sunlight and florescent tubes. It can be filtered with treated light lenses, with UV filter sleeves on florescent tubes, or with UV filter film on windows or display case glass.