Connecting to Collections Care Online Community

Photograph collections

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    • #134790
      Sally Johnson

      We have received some large collections of photos from families, at this time we are keeping the collections together. But I have one person that feels that we should break up the collection and merge into our photo archives under headings of farming, main street, and etc. How do you handle these collections?

    • #134791
      Carolyn Schimandle

      Normally collections are kept together and in the order they were in when acquired. The order and grouping provide information that would be lost if everything is reordered and broken up.

      It would be better to include farming, Main Street, and other categories as search terms in cataloguing the individual photos, but keep the collections together.

    • #134792
      David C

      I agree with Carolyn. Keep the collection together.

      When you break up a collection you could end up with problems. When you start a new group (because you just received a bunch of similar photos), it can be cumbersome to find previously received similar un-categorized photos and move them into the new group to keep all the similar photos together.

      Another problem with grouping (by subject), especially if your cataloging is in bad shape, is, if you receive a photo of “Mary Black” standing in front of the Old General Store, do you put the photo in the “Mary Black” group, or in the “Old General Store” group?

    • #134799

      Can you clarify what you mean by “breaking up” or “grouping”? Are you talking about how you physically store them, accessioning, or something else? Also, how do you track your collections data? Do you use a standardized collections management database or some other method? The only thing that really matters is that the information is recorded in a meaningful way. If items are being properly accessioned and cataloged, and donor documentation is complete, search terms should resolve most grouping issues.

      If you are talking about whether to take apart albums of photos, it is a different conversation. Can you share more about what the format, volume, and size of the collections are that you’re talking about?

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