Archivist-Intern imports paper heritage recordings and gets them ready for the archive

We are working on our paper making collection, which documents paper making in the region, and in Lee, Mass, primarily.   Making sure the digital files were safe was task number one.   We are fortunate to be working with an archivist, Schuyler Fohrhaltz-Burbank, a recent graduate of the Simmons University MS Library and Information Science/ Archives Management program.

Here are some details Schuyler shared about the process.

By Schuyler Fohrhaltz-Burbank

For the Paper Town collection it was paramount that the items were cataloged and inventoried so that anyone working on the collection down the road can have a solid point to continue from. To start, I worked with Judith to establish a naming protocol that would be used for the items. The one we settled on was initially made for just the video recordings, and was adjusted when still images and transcripts were added to the inventory. The initial naming protocol was as follows: PT (Short for Paper Towns) _ Last Name First Name. The name was from the individual(s) who were interviewed, and if there were multiple interviews of a person including ones done in various locations, the interviewee name would be followed by the location and then a number.An Example would be: PT_MonachinaPaul_Greylock_1 which denotes that this is the first of the interviews done with Paul Monachina at Greylock, with the next one being PT_MonachinaPaul_Greylock_2.  For Still images, the naming format of PT_Stills_# was used, with a few having extra info tacked on before the number. A similar scheme was used for the transcripts, which was PT_Transcript_#. This went along with an item number which followed the format of PT00#, incrementing with each item irregardless of category. As each item was cataloged, data was taken including subject, date created, format, size, old file name, new file name, folder name and if it had been added to the dropbox account. This information was mainly gathered using the built in properties that can be displayed for digital items through a drop down menu with a left mouse click (This is on a Windows machine, Mac may be different). For some of the items, there wasn’t a way to get a date of when it was created, only when it had last been modified. For some collections, this would require a far larger look into the chain of custody of the items, but for the Paper Towns collection, all of the items had stayed with the people who had created them, so the lack of a definite date of creation isn’t as much of a problem. The rest of the information was easy to find and catalog. Once all of that, plus other details such as subject (Used in relevant cases such as transcripts, photos and videos) and location, were recorded the names of the files were changed and then uploaded into the dropbox account and marked as uploaded on the inventory.

(Among the types of digital files Schuyler is working with are still photos, this one showing a meeting in the Hurlbut Mill warehouse. The Hurlbut Mill, at one time owned by Mead Westvaco, was purchased by two employees, Pat Begrowicz and Chris Matthew, in 2009.  Our collection of video recorded interviews includes two with Pat and Chris, telling the story of their purchase.)


One area that I still hope to do work on is doing checksums. I wasn’t able to do it initially due to the complications of using a program on my pc on files in an external drive with transfer speeds that would make the process take hours if not longer for a single file, if not failing to work. The program is called DROID (Digital Record Object IDentification) which provides information on file type, MIME Type (A form of file type based on a set registry), Version number if applicable and it generates checksums, which are 32 character long strings that can be used to see if the file has been altered. If a file is given a checksum through any number of programs that produce them, then run through again, if there were no changes to the file the checksum will be the same. There are drawbacks and flaws with MD5 checksums and newer alternatives are being developed, but for the time being they are the best way to track or check if a file has been altered either intentionally or unintentionally. I hope to be able to do this work for all of the items in this collection, along with other collections I hope to work on with the Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center.   ### SFB

Written by Judith