Archive for the ‘Archives Month’ Category

While doing research in an archival collection, have you ever come across intriguing, but completely off-topic items that have nothing to do with your research? Working with the George Prescott Scott papers in the Archives and Special Collections, I found a presentation he gave in 1982 on “Split Brains and Spooky Vibes.” Title aside, the presentation is a surprisingly serious essay on biophysical chemistry. While in the archival box, check out the folder on the Spooky Vibes Emblem, which is based on shapes found in nature.

This presentation can be found in the Presentations/Plays/Poems series, box 6, folder 25, George Prescott Scott papers.

Read Full Post »

While doing research in an archival collection, have you ever come across intriguing, but completely off-topic items that have nothing to do with your research? For example, while working with the Edward Perry Churchill collection I found a research paper he wrote in 1916 on “The Learning of a Maze by Goldfish.” What do you think? Did the goldfish figure out the maze?


This research paper can be found in the Printed Material series, Box 2, Edward Perry Churchill papers.

Happy Archives Month

Read Full Post »

Check out this Library of Congress blog post containing great advice for people organizing their own family papers.


“Your own personal archiving project: where do you start?” by Mike Ashenfelder, May 11, 2016. On the Library of Congress blog The Signal. https://blogs.loc.gov/thesignal/2016/05/how-to-begin-a-personal-archiving-project/ (accessed 10/09/2019).



It tells you to start simply, evaluate material for broad categories that might already exist (They call them clumps.), sort all the material into clumps, be consistent, be realistic about work space and time, and remember nothing is perfect. Read the post for more helpful tips.



Happy Archives Month.


Read Full Post »

Please use #AskAnArchivist and @USD_AandSC when asking questions on Twitter so we don’t miss any of your questions.

Read Full Post »

The Archives and Special Collections at the University of South Dakota began in October 1968 when Herbert Schell was appointed the first University Archivist. He was largely responsible for organizing The University of South Dakota’s historical records into the USD Archives. His extensive letter writing campaign between 1968 and 1971 added many collections of professional and personal papers from prominent South Dakotans to the Richardson Collection.


Read Full Post »

To me every trip to a library or archive is like a small detective story. There are always little moments on such trips when the past flares to life, like a match in the darkness.

Larson, Erik. The devil in the white city: murder, magic, and madness at the fair that changed America. New York: Crown Publishers, 2003, 395-396.

Read Full Post »

Here are a few helpful tips for the lucky ones visiting an archives.

  • Give yourself enough time. Looking through archival collections is time-consuming, and you will need more time than you expect. Believe me.
  • Check with the archival staff beforehand and ask them a lot of questions. Will they be open the days you want to visit? Are there other collections you should look at? Read through the sources at the end of this blog for more questions.
  • Learn as much as possible before you get to the archives about the collections you want to access. Are there finding aids and how do you can get copies of these finding aids? Are there restrictions on the collections you want to use for research?
  • If you want to see a book in the archives, bring more with you than the call number. Often the person pulling the book from the closed stacks needs to know information from the entire catalog record, such as book size and number of pages, before they know where a book is stored.
  • Keep track of what you have looked at and keep track of information that you will need for citations. Write it down.
  • Bonus tip: If visiting us, ask to see our copy of Reading early American handwriting by Kip Sperry. It can help decipher handwritten documents.










See also:



Introduction to Archival Research, http://libguides.usd.edu/cotent.php?pid=691519 (accessed August 24, 2016).


Using Archives: a guide to effective research, Society of American Archivist, http://www2.archivists.org/usingarchives (accessed August 19, 2016).

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: