Resources For Volunteer Programs In Archives

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Resources forVolunteer Programsin Archives

Contents1IntroductionTools Shared by Archives1How to Use this Resource2Volunteers in Archives: An OverviewIndiana Historical Society38 Volunteer QuestionnaireArchives and Project DescriptionsChurch History Department—Latter-Day Saints Church (LDS)5 Joseph Smith PapersHarry S. Truman Presidential Libraryand Museum7 Online Photograph DatabaseIndiana Historical Society9 Deaccessioning11 Oral History TranscriptionsNational Archives at College Park13 Online Indexing of Vietnam Unit Awards (4 Series)for Fold3.com Digitization Project15 Rearrange and Re-label Record Group 407, WWIIOperations Reports File Units, Entry 427F-CountryFiles, 1941–1948National Archives at Fort Worth17 Assisting Patrons19 Processing Confederate Court Records41454648National Archives and Records AdministrationVolunteer Service ApplicationVolunteer/Intern Emergency and Medical Consent FormStandards of Conduct for VolunteersVolunteer Project WorksheetOregon Jewish Museum50 Archival Processing ManualProvidence Archives, Mother Joseph Province73 Volunteer HandbookShelburne Museum Volunteer Program83 Volunteer Application FormSmithsonian Institution Archives87 Behind-the-Scenes Volunteer Program:Volunteer Project DescriptionAdditional Resources88 Online Resources88 Print ResourcesNational Archives Building21 Indexing Bounty Lands RecordsOregon Jewish Museum23 Congregation Beth Israel ProjectProvidence Archives, Mother Joseph Province25 Exploring the Archival ProfessionShelburne Museum Archives27 Archives Appraisal and Processing projectSmithsonian Institution Archives29 Electronic Records Projects: Born-Digital Video31 Preserving Primary Materials that Documentthe History of the Institution from the Nineteenthand Twentieth CenturiesState Historical Society of North Dakota,State Archives33 North Dakota County/District Court Case File Project35 Prairie Public Television: SPIN Program DigitizationAcknowledgmentsResources for Volunteer Programs in Archives wasenvisioned, compiled, and edited by Judy Luis-Watson,Rebecca Martin, and Lee Ann Potter of the NationalArchives. It was also edited by Benjamin Guterman ofthe National Archives. Contributions to this publicationmade by the staff of the National Archives and RecordsAdministration are in the public domain.Additional editing and production was done by theSociety of American Archivists, www.archivists.org.Graphic design by Matt Dufek, dufekdesign@yahoo.com.

IntroductionWhen we celebrated the bicentennialof the United States in 1976, staff atthe National Archives in Washington,D.C. recruited and trained volunteersto provide visitors of the Declarationof Independence, Constitution, andBill of Rights in our Rotunda with aricher experience. The very next year,when Roots by Alex Haley generatedtremendous interest in our resources forgenealogists, we recruited and trainedadditional volunteers to help us serve ourresearch public.and presidential libraries—and, morerecently, online. Hundreds of volunteersacross the agency are engaged in a varietyof activities, contributing hundreds ofhours and their many talents to dozensof projects, and we appreciate them everyday! We know that this appreciation isnot unique to the National Archives—weshare this sentiment with many otherarchival institutions that support andbenefit from volunteers.We also realize that volunteers do not justmagically appear, volunteer projects donot manage themselves, and volunteersdo not (usually) train themselves! Staffmembers play invaluable roles; theyserve as project managers, human capitalFrom these beginnings and for the pastthree decades, the National Archives hasproudly supported volunteer programsin D.C., as well as in our regional facilitiesspecialists, teachers, and more. They alsocreate tools to assist in the volunteers’efforts.These resources, from multiple archivalfacilities—both large and small—wereassembled to serve the larger archivalcommunity and to assist archives’professionals who work with volunteersor who are considering doing so. TheNational Archives was proud to take thelead in this effort with the Society ofAmerican Archivists, and we are delightedthat colleagues from nearly a dozen otherinstitutions generously contributedresources.— DAVID S. FERRIEROArchivist of the United StatesHow to Use This ResourceBox after box of material needing rehousing, collections waiting for findingaids, hours of untranscribed oral historieslanguishing . . . the list of archival projectswe would like to complete often seemsendless. Across the United States, manyarchival institutions are expanding theircapacity to accomplish these and otherprojects by using volunteers.This guide introduces you to some ofthe volunteer activities underway invarious archives. Arranged by institution,the guide offers descriptions of sampleA young Charles Thayer dressed in a Cossack costume hisfather purchased in Russia, ca. 1914. The photo is part ofthe Papers of Charles Thayer collection, which containsmore than 1,300 photos that two volunteers worked todescribe over the course of three years. Courtesy of theHarry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum.projects. The smallest project uses onevolunteer, the largest several dozen.The project descriptions outline allkinds of work, from transcription toprocessing, from reference to indexing.Each description is meant to offer anexample of one way to organize work. Ifyou have never used volunteer help inyour organization, this guide will provideyou with a sense of the possibilities. Andif you are interested in expanding orrethinking your volunteer program, thisguide will offer some ideas. Before youread the project descriptions, you mayfind it useful to review the next section,which contains a general overview ofworking with volunteers in archivalinstitutions.After the descriptions of sample projects,you will find other resources, includingvolunteer applications, handbooks,emergency contact forms, and volunteerjob descriptions. These model forms andtraining materials may inspire you torevise your existing forms, or they mayhelp you develop a brand new volunteerprogram.General Frank E. Lowe with a captured Russian anti-tank gun in SouthKorea, September 6, 1950. This is from the Harry S. Truman Papers,President’s Secretary’s Files, Frank E. Lowe File—another collectiondescribed by a volunteer at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Libraryand Museum. Courtesy of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library andMuseum.Bess Truman in March, 1946, writing a noteat a desk. This photo is from the collection ofTruman Papers, Family, Business and PersonalAffairs, which was described by a volunteer.Courtesy of the Harry S. Truman PresidentialLibrary and Museum.

2Volunteers in Archives: An OverviewWhy have volunteers in archives?It is in the nature of archives to havebacklogs—sometimes huge backlogs. Andit is an unfortunate reality that archivesare often understaffed. At a time whenthe volume of archival records created isincreasing monumentally, it is commonin the U.S. and elsewhere in the world forbudgets to be cut and paid staff tobe reduced.What attracts volunteers to archives?Volunteering at archives appeals to peoplewho want to contribute to somethinglarger than themselves, something thatwill be here long after they and theirprogeny are gone. A love of history alsoattracts volunteers to archives. Forstudents and those seeking new careers,the training they receive and the handson experience with original records inarchives are invaluable.How do volunteers serve at archives?Volunteers are an infusion of energy.Their enthusiasm for preserving andproviding access to the records, as well astheir drive to work on archival projects,can be contagious. This can-do attitudeimpacts not only the staff who work withvolunteers but also other staff at thearchives.Volunteers can often tackle the valuableprojects that staff do not have the timeto complete. Preparing finding aids thatassist reference and pull staff as well asresearchers, for example, contributes tothe organization as a whole. Conductingholdings maintenance, which canconsume time and energy, has a similarpositive effect on the organization and itscustomers.Volunteers also serve as advocates forarchives. They get the word out aboutthe important role of a repository, publicprograms, and records of genealogicalvalue; explain how to research recordsat the archives or online; discuss theirvolunteer projects; and help to recruitother like-minded volunteers.What should you consider beforelaunching a volunteer project orprogram?In some ways, working with volunteers isquite similar to working with paid staffmembers. Of course, there are also someimportant differences.Before working with a new volunteer orestablishing a volunteer program, be ableto respond to the following questionsabout the purpose and logistics: What would you like volunteers todo? The abstract concept of getting avolunteer to help is an appealing one.But volunteers can’t be successfulwithout knowing specifically what theyare being asked to do. Who will be in charge of thevolunteers? One person needs to havethe responsibility of setting out workfor the volunteers, reviewing that work,providing feedback—and ultimately,taking responsibility for it. Where will the volunteers sit? Dothe volunteers need desk space? Acomputer? A processing table? Do the volunteers need any specialskills or abilities? Who is best suitedfor this project? Should the volunteershave experience handling archivalmaterial? Will the most appropriatevolunteers be knowledgeable abouta particular historical topic? Do thevolunteers need to be able to bend orlift objects? Can the necessary trainingbe made available to them? What sort of training will you needto provide for the volunteers tobe successful? Who will provide thetraining? Will you be able to offer itwhenever it suits the volunteers, orwill you need to hold the training at aspecific time?When volunteers come on board, makesure you welcome them. Provide a tourof your office area or facility; introducethem to other staff members; and explainorganizational procedures, such as whereto store coats and bags and when andwhere to take a lunch break.Make sure the volunteers have all theresources necessary for the project, andlet them know what to do if questions orproblems arise.Remember that one of the majordifferences between paid and unpaidstaff is the reason they are working withyour organization. No matter how muchthey believe in the work you do, paidstaff come into work each day at leastin part because they are earning money.Volunteers contribute hours for differentreasons. Some volunteers are looking foropportunities to be with other people.Some are interested in networking anddeveloping their professional skills.Some want to feel that they are making adifference by helping an organization theysupport. Some simply find the work tobe fun. For your organization to succeedwith volunteers, you’ll need to makesure that you’re supplying whatever eachvolunteer hopes to gain from spendingtime with you, whether that is a chanceto chat with you or with others or anopportunity to try out a skill gained ingraduate school. Feeling appreciated isimportant to all volunteers, regardlessof their other motivations. As you workwith volunteers, make sure that youthank them and that you express theimportance of their contributions to yourorganization.What are some of the specialchallenges for volunteer programs atarchives?Not all employees at archives aresupportive of volunteers in archives.There is a feeling among some staff,including supervisors and managers, thatvolunteers diminish the status of the

3Volunteers in Archives: An Overview (continued)archival profession. Some staff fear thatvolunteers will replace them and takeaway their jobs. As a starting point, acommitment from upper management iscritical.citizenship or specific types of visas andbackground checks may be a requirement.This process can be time consuming andcostly and is part of the organization’sinvestment in the volunteer program.Building trust in the volunteer programacross the archives at all levels mustbe an ongoing effort by the volunteerprogram manager and all managers.Including archivists and other staff involunteer orientation and training helpsto not only build bridges by providingan opportunity for staff to share theirexpertise, but also for staff to get toknow new volunteers and the knowledge,skills, and enthusiasm they bring to theorganization. Another way to build thecredibility of the volunteer program isto regularly share the successes of thevolunteers and projects supervised bystaff as a win for the organization.The role retired archivists play when theyreturn as volunteers requires carefulnegotiation not only with the newvolunteers, but also with the managerswho supervised the archivists. Whatprojects they will work on, where theywill be located, and what records theywill have access to are some of the issuesthat must be clarified before the retiredarchivists begin their volunteer service.Security at archives is critical. Atgovernment agencies, for example,Are volunteer managers and projectsupervisors necessary at archives?Yes! For a volunteer program to besuccessful, expectations for volunteersmust be clear and volunteers’expectations must be managed startingwith the application process andcontinuing throughout the volunteers’experience. The quality of the orientationand initial and ongoing training, as wellas regular assessments, contribute tothe quality of the volunteers’ work andexperience and, therefore, to the archives.Project supervision ensures thatvolunteers receive support for theprojects they work on. The well-plannedvolunteer projects with clear instructionsfrom the start result in a high-qualityproduct and satisfied volunteers who lookforward to the next project.

Archives and ProjectDescriptions

Archives and Project DescriptionsResources for Volunteer Programs in Archives hurch History Department—CLatter-Day Saints Church (LDS)www.lds.org/churchhistory/Salt Lake City, UtahProject TitleJoseph Smith PapersContactDan Gallup gallupdw@ldschurch.org(801) 240-8280Institutional Information /Purpose Statement:The purpose of the Church HistoryDepartment is to help God’s childrenmake and keep sacred covenants by: Keeping and sharing a record of HisChurch and its people; Assuring remembrance of God’s handin the lives of His children; and Witnessing to and defending the truthsof the Restoration of the gospel ofJesus Christ.The department’s core work is dividedinto three areas: Collect; Preserve; and Share.Collect: The Church History Departmentcollects all types of records and materialsrelated to Church history. Records arecollected both from Church entities andnon-Church entities. These records areacquired and cataloged to make themaccessible for researchers.in place to preserve digital information aswell as physical records and objects.Preserve: Proper preservation of thecollection is a high priority for thedepartment. Preservation facilitiesinclude:Share: Church history information isshared in a variety of ways: Granite Mountain Records Vault, whichcontains 2.4 million rolls of familyhistory microfilm and other materials; Church History Library, which hastwelve storage rooms that providetemperature- and climate-controlledstorage for records; Museum storage facility, which housesobjects that are used in creatingexhibits for the Church HistoryMuseum; and Conservation Lab, which maintains andrepairs items in the collection.Additionally, due to today’s increasinglyautomated world, systems are being put Church History Library holdingsaccessible onsite and through ouronline catalog with increasing digitalcontent; Church History Museum exhibits andprograms; Historic sites; and Publications, such as the Joseph SmithPapers volumes.The department is structured into sixcomponents: Administration, LibraryDivision, Preservation Division, MuseumDivision, Historic Sites Division, andPublications Division. The department’sstaff consists of 240 employees, 15 to 30interns, and 500 to 600 volunteers.Project DetailsWhere is the project located withinyour organizational structureand who (e.g., archivist, curator,volunteer coordinator, or other)oversees the project?editorial board that is the governing bodyfor the papers project.The project is in the Publications Divisionof the Church History Department. Theproject is managed by the director of thePublications Division and the managingeditor of the project. There is also anWe currently have forty-two volunteersworking on the project.How many volunteers work on theproject?If you have multiple volunteersworking on the project, how do youorganize them? For example, doyou have a lead volunteer; do youorganize work according to day;does each volunteer work on anindependent piece of the project?We have different kinds of volunteers: Academic interns: Each semester webring in ten to fifteen unpaid academicinterns. They are assigned to assist ahistorian/researcher.5

Archives and Project DescriptionsResources for Volunteer Programs in Archives Seasoned historian/researchers:These volunteers work under thedirection of a volume editor and themanaging editor and have specificassignments to research and writeabout. Full-time and part-timemissionaries: These volunteers aremembers of our church who are calledas missionaries for six months to twoyears and are assigned to assist on theproject. Their work can be managed byany of the historians or writers on theproject.Does the project require volunteersto have a specific schedule, or is theschedule flexible?How do you recruit the volunteers?Where does the work take place?We work with the History Departmentat Brigham Young University (BYU) toprovide academic interns on a semesterbasis. We invite LDS scholars toparticipate as volunteers. We also workthrough the formal missionary callingprocess.The majority of the work is done on-sitein the Church History Library. Someresearch and writing could be done atpeople’s homes or at BYU.Do you have any restrictions onwho may participate (minimum ormaximum age, education, experience,or other)?Primarily computer equipment is requiredand is provided on-site. Other on-siteequipment, including microfilm readers,is also provided.Our guidelines vary, based on the type ofvolunteering that the person will do.What kinds of tasks do thevolunteers do? Academic Interns: We look forstudents in their junior or senior yearsof study. We also conduct interviews toensure a good fit. Seasoned historians/researchers:These individuals need to have a PhDin an appropriate field of study, bepublished, and/or be an authority inareas of LDS Church history. Missionaries: We request basiccomputer skills and a willingness to dobasic research. Some missionaries, suchas retirees from the department, comewith significant experience and can begiven expanded responsibilities. All volunteers must be faithfulmembers of the LDS faith.Many do source checking, and othersdo research associated with a particularvolume. Others do writing or editing.How many hours per week does eachvolunteer contribute to the project?From eight to forty-plus hours per week.The interns’ schedules are based on theirclass schedules but are set during theirinternships.Most volunteers work during normalwork hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.),but the seasoned historians/writershave flexible hours that depend on theirschedules. Volunteers receive access tothe archives and library during normalworking hours.What kinds of equipment does theproject require?What kind of initial training do yourvolunteers receive?Primarily, volunteers receive training onusing the archives. Some need trainingin the use of hardware and software.Most know how to do research and areproductive very quickly.We also have standard safety training forall employees and volunteers.What kinds of ongoing training orwritten inst

Volunteer Handbook Shelburne Museum Volunteer Program 83 Volunteer Application Form Smithsonian Institution Archives 87 Behind-the-Scenes Volunteer Program: Volunteer Project Description Additional Resources 88 Online Resources 88 Print Resources Acknowledgments Resources for Volunteer Programs in Archives was Rebecca Martin, and Lee Ann Potter .

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