Fonds d’Archives, No. 1

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Fonds d’Archives is an online, open access, scholarly journal published by the Archives Society of Alberta. The journal is devoted to the archives profession and explores all aspects of archival practice, including but not limited to appraisal, arrangement, description, access, outreach and preservation. Fonds d’Archives is particularly focused on archival issues from practical, working-level perspectives or theoretical explorations with demonstrated praxis.

The Archives Society of Alberta is pleased to announce that the first issue of Fonds d’Archives is now online. To view the current issue or for more information about submissions, please visit the Fonds d’Archives website.

Information Access and Protection of Privacy for Archives Workshop

Instructors: Jim Franks and Rick Klumpenhouwer

Date: Friday, September 15, 2017; 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Location: Glenbow Boardroom, 130 9 Ave SE, Calgary

Cost: $150 for ASA members; $175 for non-members

Course description:

The workshop covers key aspects of collection, use and disclosure of personal information by public and private sector archives.

We discuss specific provisions of the Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) and the Alberta Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) that specifically relate to archival practices including history and scope of the laws collection, use and disclosure of information in an archives for research and related purposes.

Topics regarding “duty to document,” managing privacy in an archives and formal requests for access to information is covered.

To register or for more information, please visit our website. Registration closes September 1.

South Peace Regional Archives – Canada Day event

This year, as part of the History of the Peace Country in 150 Objects, the South Peace Regional Archives (SPRA) is creating a new exhibit featuring 10 objects that tell the story of the South Peace Region. Those objects take us on a journey whose documentary starting point is the days of the fur trade. As white traders moved into Canada to do business, their relationships with the long-existing indigenous communities led to the development of the new and distinctly Canadian community of the Métis.  From there, we see how the federal government moved to develop the “new country” and we meet the people who answer the call, first to migration, then to war.

From there, we get a glimpse of the growing communities in the region and experience vicariously how local, regional, national and international events intersected in peoples’ day-to-day lives.  Yet again, we bear sad witness as a new group of local men and women go to war.

Finally, the past catches up to the present as we meet the teachers and youth who built on the hard labour of their forbearers to make the region and the country what it is today. What we learn from this journey through time is that the history of the South Peace region mirrors the history of Canada.

Please join us on Canada Day when we will explore the lives of the people reflected in these documents.

 

Audiovisual Preservation Survey and Assessment Report

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Wire recording (Photo courtesy of Deborah Tabah)

The ASA is pleased to announce the completion of the Audiovisual Survey and Assessment project by Deborah Tabah, generously funded through a grant by Library and Archives Canada. A survey was carried out across forty-four ASA Institutional Member archives.

View the Audiovisual Preservation Survey and Assessment Report here!

 

 

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Wrapping Up the Flood Advisory Programme

The Flood Advisory Programme launched in September 2014 when the Lead Team, consisting of the Lead Conservator, Emily Turgeon-Brunet, and the Lead Archivist, Amanda Oliver, began their site assessments across the province. In response to the site assessments, the Lead Team began developing custom work plans for all of ASA’s institutional members to assist with flood remediation, disaster preparedness, and preventive conservation.

The program started out as an idea that came to fruition all because of the Flood Advisory Committee, consisting of Rene Georgopalis, Leslie Latta, Alison Freake, and Michael Gourlie. Alberta Culture and Tourism provided funding to the Flood Advisory Committee to develop a 2.5 year program that would assist Alberta’s archives after the June 2013 floods.

The program evolved from site assessments and custom work plans to include hiring on-site contractors, offering professional development opportunities, speaking at conferences, and creating education resources. A couple of examples are the instructional how-to videos available on the ASA website, and the Disaster Preparedness Workshop that was offered in September 2016.

The Flood Advisory Programme has left forty-one ASA institutional members better prepared for future emergencies and disasters. The end of March 2017 marks the end of the Flood Advisory Programme, though the educational resources will remain accessible through its webpage.

This will also be the final blog post by the Lead Team.

Thank you for all of your support!

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Launch of the Loan Program

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Photo credit: Emily Turgeon-Brunet

The Flood Advisory Programme has just launched the much-anticipated Loan Program. The Loan Program is a project that was developed by the Lead Team consisting of environmental monitors, photographic documentation supplies, reference books, a wet-dry HEPA vacuum, a high-resolution scanner, and encapsulation equipment. The supplies are available to all ASA institutional members in good standing to borrow for free. Items are available for pick up at one of two locations: Provincial Archives of Alberta and Milo Library Archives. The items must be requested through the ASA Executive Director and a full list of items and guidelines for accessing this program can be found on the ASA website.

 

 

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How to Write a (Basic) Condition Report

Most often conservators, preservation specialists, collection managers, and art couriers are the staff members who write condition reports for collection materials. The practice of writing a condition report is valuable because it collects information on the state of an item at a certain time, which provides a reference for future degradation or damage. Some condition reports are more extensive than others, though it is useful to have a basic condition report on file for items that are frequently circulated.

Many staff members in the heritage field write short reports on the appearance and condition of objects to record in the database. This may be done upon acquisition, prior to exhibition or loan, or when preparing an item for the vault.

What information is needed on the item to write a basic condition report (for a paper item)?

Description

Title

Artist/Author

Printer/Publisher

Date of Execution

Dimensions (cm)

Media (ink, graphite, etc)

Design

Support/Substrate

Formation (smooth or rough)

Colour

Thickness

Surface (matte or glossy)

Watermarks/Stamps

Labels/Inscriptions

 

Condition

Warping

Handling Dents/Creases

Tears

Cuts

Abrasions

Losses

Holes

Fingerprints

Overall Staining

Local Staining

Adhesive

Fading

 

It is also recommended to take photographs of the items at the time that they are assessed, as additional proof of their condition. Photographs should be taken with a DSLR camera and under good lighting. Use a colour target placed next to the item to provide a colour reference that ensures the colouration and brightness of the photograph is acceptable. This colour target can be used to colour correct the digital file using a Photoshop program if needed.

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What’s In the Mud?

During the June 2013 flooding of the High River region, the Museum of the Highwood’s archival collection was immersed in water for eleven days. After eleven days the archival collection was salvaged and moved into freezers for two years, prior to undergoing conservation treatment through the Flood Advisory Programme. The items underwent conservation treatment, which was performed by Emily Turgeon-Brunet, Lisa Isley, and Jayme Vallieres. The archival collection had been covered in frost, mud, and mould and required cleaning, stabilization, and rehousing.

Since the entire region of High River had been underwater, it left a lot of questions about what exactly the conservators had been cleaning off of the archival collection. What was in the mud?

A sample of High River mud that was removed from the flood damaged collection material was sent to Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Herbert Gus Shurvell, at Queen’s University Department of Art Conservation to undergo FTIR and XRF testing.

FTIR:

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy is most commonly used to collect information on surface properties and functional groups present in organic and polymeric substances. Dr. Shurvell provided a spectrum that compares the mud sample and the references natural sienna and terra cotta.

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FTIR Spectra, Credit: Dr. Herbert Shurvell

XRF:

X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis is used to collect information on the elemental composition, and provide the relative concentration of elements in comparison to one another.

Results:

The FTIR spectra showed peaks typical for the presence of silica-alumina clays. The XRF results showed the strong presence of iron and calcium, with addition to silicon, potassium, titanium, manganese, zinc, rubidium, strontium, and zirconium. Some of these are toxic when encountered at high concentrations, though they are all found naturally in rocks and soil. Radioactive isotopes of some these elements are found naturally in nature, while others are the byproducts of industrial processes.

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Reflectance Transformation Imaging

Conservators, archaeologists, and conservation scientists use many pieces of equipment and methods of investigation to perform analysis of records, artifacts, and historical buildings. Analysis is performed to research materials, collect historical information, and determine how they can be preserved.

Outdoor sculptures, historic buildings, and even gravestones are severely affected over time due to the harsh environmental conditions that they must withstand. In order to work towards the preservation and documentation of these historical resources, researchers sometimes collect data on their surface, shape, and colour using Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), also called Polynomial Texture Mapping. This type of analysis uses a computational photographic method that collects information on the surface through the use of light and camera positioning. It has proved particularly beneficial when decoding worn gravestones, friezes, hieroglyphics, and even faded manuscripts.

How does it work?

  • Multiple photos are taken of an object with a stationary camera, under various angles of light. The angles of light are knowns, and are required to collect the necessary images that will be used to create the final image.
  • Data produced by each image is interpreted by the RTI viewing software, then a mathematical model of the surface is created, which allows users of the software to manipulate an illumination feature to view the surface under various light angles.

 A similar method of photographic capture that is used for RTI can also be used for 3-D scanning. 3-D scanning is a popular method of collecting data of an object prior to creating reproductions or creating a digital manifestation.

 

References

Cultural Heritage Imaging. Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI). Retrieved from http://culturalheritageimaging.org/Technologies/RTI/.

Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute. Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI). Retrieved from http://si.edu/MCIImagingStudio/RTI.

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New Year’s Resolutions: Public Outreach

Exhibits are an important part of sharing information with the public and making historical items accessible. They also provide an opportunity to educate visitors on specific topics and showcase items of importance to the community. Public outreach events are another way to involve the public with the archives. Below are a few public outreach event examples to inspire your archives to offer events this year; some of the events below have been offered by Albertan institutions in the past with success.

  1. Create a Time Capsule

Involve community members by encouraging them to donate a small item, such as a photo or letter, for a time capsule project. The time capsule can be put into the vault to be used in the future for an exhibit. This project could take place over a particular holiday, which would provide content for an exhibit for a future holiday.

  1. Rehouse Prized Collections

A 2-3 hour hands-on workshop on proper housing and handling techniques can be taught to comic book and sports card collectors. Archival grade folders, binders, encapsulation materials, and labels can be sold as part of the workshop kit.

  1. Make a Portfolio or Window Mat Folder

A hands-on half-day workshop can be hosted where registrants have an opportunity to create a portfolio or a window mat folder to house an art print. A supply kit for the workshop could be sold upon registration. This workshop would appeal to artisans, art collectors, or art students.

  1. Make Long Lasting Memories

A presentation on choosing papers and glues to safely display photographs and memorabilia can be offered to the scrapbooking community. An additional workshop could be offered to the calligraphic community on choosing lightfast inks and watercolour paints. It is recommended to have samples available to show registrants.

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