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Pacific Islands Anthropology: Archiving Field Materials: Guidelines

A guide to resources and issues to consider when archiving field materials.

Basic Guidelines for Organizing and Preserving Your Field Materials

  • Don't store your photographic materials in your basement, garage or attic.  In general, find a place to store these materials where they will be protected from large swings in temperature, or low/high humidity.
  • Keep negatives from a roll together, as this keeps the shots in context with each other--this can be especially important when a roll depicts an event.
  • Slides can be organized by general topics, if that makes sense, or kept together as a roll.
  • Use archival-quality materials to house negatives and slides.  Clear polyethylene sleeves or acid-free envelopes are good choices for negatives.  For ease of use, slides are best kept in clear sleeves, rather than in boxes supplied by the developer or in carousels.
  • Create a list of the negative rolls--include date when each roll was taken--this will help relate your pictures to what you've written in field diaries.  If possible, give a general idea of what the roll depicts. 
  • Slides can be annotated on the paper frame with brief information.  Numbering slides keyed to a written inventory is also an option.
  • If you have kept a shot list, be sure keep it in an obvious place (like with the negatives).

Guidelines from Organizations

1.  Why Preserve Anthropological Records? –   Sydel Silverman

2.  Taking Stock of Your Records – Michael A. Little

3.  Easy Steps for Preserving Your Anthropological Records – Mary Elizabeth Ruwell

4.  Finding a Home for Your Records – Lynne M. Schmelz

5.  Organizing and Transferring Records – Ruth J. Person

6.  Appointing a Literary Executor – Thomas H. Wilson

7.  Saving Association Records – Nancy J. Parezo

8.  The Special Nature of Linguistic Records – Victor Golla

9.  Some Ethical Issues to Consider When Depositing Your Records Catherine S. Fowler
     and Steven J. Crum

10. Ethical Use of Anthropological Records Catherine S. Fowler and Steven J. Crum

11. Locating Archival Quality Materials  – Mary Elizabeth Ruwell

12. Basic Steps in Preservation of Photographs Willow Roberts Powers

13. Preserving Audio-Visual Materials on Magnetic Tape Willow Roberts Powers

14. Creating Records That Will Last Willow Roberts Powers

15. Born Digital: Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories (CLIR 2013)




Prairienet is a site related to the Community Informatics Initiative at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  The CII was active from 2007-2011. 

Digitization vs. Preservation

Key Issues

What is a Community

Approaches for Smaller Community Institutions

  • Repository Approach
  • Community Archives Approach
  • Personal Archives Approach

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