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Lesson 3 Discussion

1.  This is where you post your creative illustration of the National Archives organization system.  Please have fun with this! 


2.  Also, you need to write a citation for the following document and send it to me at carol.buswell@nara.gov

  • Let's pretend you walked into the National Archives in Washington DC.  You tell them you want to hold the records for the purchase of Alaska in your hands.
  • The archivist hands you a finding aid entitled "Record Group 217: Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, 1775-1978."
  • You find several sub-headings in the finding aid, including one called "Notes, Coupon, Currency, and Files Division. (ca. 1797 - ca. 1921) "[hint ... this is not geographic, but it IS a subdivision of the agency]
  • Under this sub-heading is a list of SERIES something like the ones you saw in the National Archives at Anchorage series list.  One is a series titled  Warrants, compiled 03/1801 - 12/1921 
  • The archivist happens to have list of boxes and their contents for this particular series.  On the list you find the ITEM you are looking for, "Treasury Warrant in the Amount of $7.2 Million for the Purchase of Alaska, 08/01/1868."
  • You fill out a form and wait a little while for the archivist to bring you the box in question.  You look through the box and find the warrant.

Treasury Warrant in the Amount of $7.2 Million for the Purchase of Alaska, 08/01/1868

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  • Not a master of word programs at all (never learned how to use them creatively)  But here is an outline of the organizational system:

    NARA organizational system.docx

  • I know this is well behind the schedule I would like to be keeping for this class, but I had a hectic end of February.  My apologies.

    I love to hike, so I thought the analogy of climbing a mountain in search of the item (or peak) worked to create a visual for searching for an item in the Archives.  As you climb the mountain, or go through the next level of organization, you come closer to the goal.  The base of mountain would represent all possible items in the Archives, and with each succeeding level you have less items to encounter until you reach the summit.

    Gehman - Organization of Archives.pdf

  • Oops, put Nat and doccy in the wrong section....I'll fix it tomorrow 

  • Here's my diagram. For some reason as I pondered the fact that the descriptions of series included the number of linear feet of records my mind jumped to skyscrapers and office space...

    Lesson 3-Wheeles.pdf

  • I envision the archives as a nesting egg.  Each layer gets you closer to the document you want to see.  Visiting the archive in Anchorage and being able to locate a document to view enabled me to have a clearer picture of the archives. 

    National Archives Organization.docx

  • I complemented my visual with "real life" category examples of my own making.  Some of the examples really are real (no pun intended), for example, the National Archives at Riverside, and some were created as "realistic" examples of the different categories based on the examples given. 

    In short, don't take this as a true example, because some the groupings are products of my own brain.

    Diagram of Archival System.docx

  • Simple, but I hope accurate...


  • OK, I am a music teacher after all........ I used the structure of the symphony orchestra for my illustration.

    Lesson Three-Organizational Structure.pdf

  • I have enjoyed seeing everyone's illustrations. They've been helpful for me as I try to understand the National Archive system. My illustration seems to fit the theme of "What's for Dinner?."

  • I'm thinking of it as a fishing expedition. All items (fishies) are in the pond. The pond is divided per the organizational protocol (citations) of the archives as a matter of convention. I see it as a pond because, although the separate layers (ripples) are delineated, everything in the separate record groups, subdivisions, series'and so on are in the pond. The major flaw in this simple illustration is that there really are many ponds (record groups). And within a record group, there are multiple subdivision ripples; and within subdivisions, multiple series'; and within a series, probably a lot of files; and probably more than one item (fish) in each file.  Oh--I forgot to include a visual for geographic location. Well, maybe that's the grassy meadow! Wait! It needs a fourth dimension so that there can be stacks of grassy meadows depicting various geographic locations, with ponds spilling over into waterfalls.  Someone stop me here  . . . .

    Fishing in the National ArchivesBT.pdf

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