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Category: Archival Processing

May 23 2017

Ethics in Archives

Blog post contributed by Taylor de Klerk and Jessica Serrao, Library Associates

Archival processing requires a lot of tough decisions. It may not always seem that way, but archivists are charged with holding and indefinitely preserving the cultural heritage of the communities around them. Not a small task! Archivists are responsible for acting in the best interest of these communities, and their actions must be ethically sound to uphold that trust. Because there are so many ethical concerns to consider, this blog post introduces Special Collections’ new series on archival ethics. Over the next several months, we will post regularly on topics including privacy, description, and preservation.

Special Collections Research Center Reading Room

To navigate tough ethical cases and make informed decisions, archivists use a variety of resources. We rely on archival networks for support, particularly those provided by professional organizations including the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA). One of SAA’s functions is to establish guidelines that help archivists work through difficult decisions. SAA’s Core Values Statement and Code of Ethics list key aspects of archival work and the values we should uphold as we collect and process archival materials. The Core Values Statement includes tenets like “Access and Use” to encourage archivists to “promote and provide the widest possible accessibility of materials.” That one seems pretty intuitive. After all, access is the fundamental mission of the profession. Other values, such as “Responsible Custody” and “Social Responsibility” look deeper at our role as stewards entrusted with preserving society’s heritage and memory.

SAA’s Code of Ethics encourages archivists to ethically acquire, protect, and provide access to collections based on the beliefs outlined in the Core Values. Contemporary archival ethics are reflective of current social, cultural, and political climates. SAA’s Committee on Ethics and Professional Conduct (CEPC) reviews the Code of Ethics periodically to ensure that it reflects current ethical discourse (for more information on the evolution of the code, see SAA’s Code of Ethics History). The code was last updated in 2012 and it outlines seven principles of which archivists should be mindful. For example, archivists should implement security measures and disaster plans to “guard all records against accidental damage, vandalism, and theft.” Other principles include “Authenticity,” “Trust,” and “Professional Relationships.”

As with many other professions, archivists find that these ethical considerations are often tied to situation and interpretation. Nurturing and maintaining professional relationships is a means by which archivists gain insight from collective experiences of those with similar dilemmas. They remind us that we aren’t alone when we make these decisions! Professional relationships can be beneficial on local, state, and national levels. Archivists have a duty to present a fair and inclusive historical record, which may be regionally shaped by demographics. Because certain issues may be specific to a state or region, local professional organizations like the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA) provide even stronger ethical guidance by providing a space for peers and mentors working with similar historical collections to communicate about their experiences. By attending SNCA’s annual meeting each spring, we foster these relationships, develop support networks, and stay up to date about what is happening in North Carolina’s archivist communities.

Talking about concepts like ethics and professional values helps us be more transparent about the decisions we make behind the scenes and how they might affect archival research. Researchers have the right to know that our decisions affect their interactions with the collections they are using. It is our hope that we can help researchers better interpret the archival record by sharing how we make our decisions in this new blog series on archival ethics. Researchers can then focus more on finding beneficial primary sources and revealing their stories.

Apr 12 2017

Guides to Two New Veterinary Medicine Collections Published

Blog post contributed by Jessica Serrao and Taylor de Klerk, Library Associates

NC State University boasts a top ranked College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Special Collections Research Center is excited to improve access to two collections that highlight the university’s emphasis on veterinary education and research. The Gregory A. Lewbart Papers and the William Medway Papers now have new online finding aids to help you navigate the professional and research files of these two prominent veterinarians.

Gregory Lewbart is a veterinarian of aquatic animals and terrestrial invertebrates and reptiles. His research interests include zoological medicine, infectious diseases, and public health. Lewbart joined the faculty of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) as Professor of Aquatic Animal Medicine in 1993. In 2016, he became the Assistant Department Head for the CVM’s Department of Clinical Sciences.

In 2012, Lewbart received the “William Medway Award for Excellence in Teaching” from the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine (IAAAM). Medway, a founding member and former president of IAAAM, was an influential researcher and instructor in veterinary clinical pathology and aquatic mammal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Throughout his career, Dr. Medway contributed influential veterinary research on dolphins, manatees, and whales. Lewbart studied under Medway while at Penn as a veterinary student of marine mammal medicine.

The Gregory A. Lewbart Papers is mostly comprised of materials from his time at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and his work and leadership in the national and international veterinary community. Some material pertains to his education at the University of Pennsylvania and prior work experience in Florida.

The William Medway Papers includes photographic slides, veterinary clinical reports, administrative documentation from the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine (IAAAM), and publications by Medway (as an individual and as a collaborator with other veterinary professionals). Dr. Medway was a founding member of IAAAM and served as its president from 1974 until 1975. IAAAM is a society of professionals and students focusing on aquatic animal medicine. Dr. Lewbart is also actively involved in IAAAM, and he served as its president in the mid-1990s. His collection contains materials from sixteen of their annual conferences, administrative organizational papers, and newsletters.

A significant portion of Lewbart’s collection is clinical case files. These files are organized according to his original numbering scheme that is based on the year in which the case opened, and then numbered consecutively by occurrence (ex: 1999-005, 1999-006, 1999-007). There are records for hundreds of patients, most of which include diagnoses, reports, clinical instructions, and other documentation. One fun aspect of processing this collection was seeing the unique animal names in these files. For example, Dr. Lewbart treated a yellow-bellied slider named “Dragster,” a goldfish named “Tulip,” a loggerhead turtle named “Stumpy,” a salamander named “Doo Doo,” and an iguana named “Piggy.”

Many of the clinical case files have corresponding photographs as visual documentation of the medical procedures. These photos (in both Lewbart’s and Medway’s collections) are not for the squeamish, including a significant number of photos in both collections from their research activities. Among other things, Dr. Lewbart conducted research on algal infections in horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) and there is a large quantity of photos of microscope slides that show the evolution of different infections.

Additionally, Lewbart has a special interest in turtles, and is a faculty advisor for CVM’s Turtle Rescue Team. The team is part of the Wildlife, Avian, Aquatic, and Zoological Medicine student organization and it aims to release healthy and rehabilitated turtles into the wild after providing medical, surgical, and/or husbandry services. Education about wildlife and ecosystems is also one of the organization’s main goals. Their papers are housed in University Archives; more information can be found in the team’s finding aid.

For more information about the Gregory A. Lewbart Papers and the William Medway Papers, please consult the collection guides online. To learn more about finding and using archival collections at NCSU, please visit our website. You can also search directly within our collection guides or browse a list of our collections for more. If you have any questions about how to find or use the collections, as always, contact us! We are here to help you find what you need.


“Dr. William Medway Honored,” Bellwether Magazine 1, no. 31 (Summer/Fall 1991), Accessed 3 April 2017.

Sam H. Ridgway, “History of Veterinary Medicine and Marine Mammals: A Personal Perspective,” Aquatic Mammals 34, no. 3 (2008): 471-513, accessed 3 April 2017,

Feb 20 2017

Newly-processed Frances M. Richardson papers now available

Blog post contributed by Taylor de Klerk and Jessica Serrao, Library Associates

The Frances M. Richardson Papers are now fully processed and available for research in the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC). That means enhanced search and discovery for researchers, and improved preservation conditions for the materials now stored in archival folders and boxes. This is a must-see collection for anyone interested in the legacy of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) at North Carolina State University. The new guide to the collection is available here.

Frances Richardson with microscope

Frances Marian (Billie) Richardson came to NC State in 1951 as a research associate in the Department of Engineering Research, working closely with the Department of Chemical Engineering. She earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Roanoke College and an M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati. She became a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemists in 1969. Richardson was the first woman faculty member of the School (now College) of Engineering. Later, she shifted into roles as associate director of the Engineering Operations Program and as a faculty member of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

Dr. Kenneth O. Beatty and Frances Richardson measuring velocity with radioactive tracers

Much of Richardson’s research and publications focused on fluid mechanics and infrared imaging thermography, and she received the Sigma Xi Research Award in 1959 and the Roanoke College Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 1970 as results of her work. Richardson was first drawn to NC State because it was the first academic campus to build a nuclear reactor (which was also the first constructed outside Atomic Energy Commission facilities). For over a decade, she researched in rheology and used a radioactive tracer displacement technique to trace the flow of non-Newtonian fluids. In 1979, Richardson was elected the first president of the North Carolina Society of Women Engineers and the society named her Outstanding Woman Engineer in 1980.

Over the course of four months last fall, Special Collections’ Library Associates sorted through and processed 30 cartons of Richardson’s papers. The scope of the materials in the collection is diverse and highlight Richardson’s deep devotion to her research, her students, her departments, and the university. Richardson’s papers speak to her teaching, professional involvement in the fields of chemistry and biomedical engineering, and especially her passion for encouraging women and minority students to pursue STEM fields at NCSU and beyond.

Piles of folders separated by subject were created during processing to group related topics for easier access and discovery

Richardson was one of a relatively small number of women pursuing a STEM career in the mid-twentieth century. She overcame obstacles throughout her research and her professional advancement at NC State, some of which are documented in this collection. Her various roles over the years with student chapters of the Society of Women Engineers and Sigma Xi are also well represented. The more time SCRC staff spent with these materials, the better they understood Richardson’s personality. Her humor showed through with surprising finds like parodies about computers and a healthy collection of comic strips.

The Frances M. Richardson Papers is now available in the Special Collections Research Center for anyone interested in learning more about her. Additionally, there are related materials within other collections, including the Society of Women Engineers NCSU Student Section Records (UA 021.497), the Sigma Xi Records (MC 00246), records of multiple departments within the College of Engineering, and the soon-to-come Kenneth O. Beatty Papers (MC 00546).

For more information about the Frances M. Richardson Papers, please consult the collection guide online. To learn more about finding and using archival collections at NCSU, please visit our website.  You can also search directly within our collection guides or browse a list of our collections for more.  If you have any questions about how to find or use the collections, as always, contact us!  We are here to help you find what you need.

Dec 05 2016

Who would have thought comic books could be a part of Special Collections?

Comic books are an important part of pop culture, and with so many movie adaptations being released, they are now more than ever. Some comics can be regarded for their aesthetic and literary value, as they are diverse medium in genre and artistic style. Comics certainly can be considered archival material, and now they are a part of NCSU Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. The Douglas Ward American Comic Books Collection has been processed by the SCRC, so its contents are now open to be viewed and researched, and its collection guide can be found online.

The collection was donated by Mr. Douglas Ward, a resident of Wake County and an information technology administrator, and his gift encompasses a selection of 2,057 comic books, published between 1975 and 1999, as well as a set of trading cards and art pieces.

Popular series: Wonder Woman, Star Wars: X-Wing--The Rogue Squadron, Black Panther, Doctor Strange

The comics are from various comic book publishers, chiefly of the “Big Two,” Marvel and DC Comics, in addition to Dark Horse, Image, and other publishers and independent presses. These materials are chiefly superhero comics, but also present are dramatic works, science fiction and fantasy titles, horror comics, comedic series, literary adaptations, crime books, anthologies, movie and television tie-ins, and counterculture “alternative” comics.

A wide variety of art styles and subjects: Martha Washington Goes to War, Astro City, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Harlan Ellison's Dream Corridor, Sin City, The Maxx, Groo

The art styles vary from: the “pop” design typical in mainstream comics; abstract works; ones inspired by classic comic strip and cartoons; highly detailed, fantasy-themed art; ones inspired by classic illustrations; and minimalist line-drawings. Some comics’ covers were designed to be eye-catching and may be holographic, iridescent, embossed, textured, or foil.

Show-and-Tell display at screening of the documentary She Makes Comics

You can browse the collection’s comics and items in its online finding aid, and if you are interested in viewing any, you can request them via this form.

If you would like to read more SCRC postings about the Ward Collection, please visit Processing Comics at Special Collections and Collection Highlights on Display at ‘Focus on Comics’ Event Series. To discover more information on Special Collections’ archival collections, please visit our Collections Guides, or browse through our Rare and Unique Digital Collections.

Oct 13 2016

Processing Comics at Special Collections

Comics books as a medium have reached new heights and crossed new boundaries in the last decade. While they’ve always been a mainstay in film, TV, and merchandise, lately their adaptations are becoming nearly ubiquitous. Not only have they made such a large impact on pop culture, but they are also reaching more diverse demographics.

Some “graphic novels” (a comic published as one work rather than being first serialized) are being regarded as important literature. Children’s publishers are investing in graphic novels for young readers, many highly praised. There are college courses on comic books, and individual works are included as required reading in other classes.

The Douglas Ward American Comic Books Collection is currently being processed by NC State’s Special Collections and Research Center, and has provided a variety of interesting material. The collection contains almost 2,000 comic issues, collections, and graphic novels, chiefly from the “Big Two” publishers, Marvel and DC Comics. Most of the books feature superheroes, but there’s also horror, humor, science fiction, and dramatic works. The finding aid for the Ward Collection is still being worked on, but will be available online soon.

This collection has given us a new medium, and a new method of preserving and processing this medium. For the Ward Collection, we are dividing comics into series determined by their publisher, then arranged by their title.

Cartons of comics, aka a nerd's dream

A copy of Hellboy: The Wolves of Saint August

Then the comic is “bagged and boarded,” putting it into a plastic bag along with a board to keep it from bending. The comic is then ready to be foldered, boxed, and placed into our archive.

Here are some comics from the Ward Collection:

As seen on TV: Flash, Preacher, Daredevil

Coming to a Theater Near You: Wonder Woman, Star Wars: X-Wing--The Rogue Squadron, Black Panther, Doctor Strange

Well regarded literature: Strangers in Paradise, From Hell, The Tale of One Bad Rat, Bone

Batman: Arkham Asylum, Godzilla, Avengers

A wide variety of art styles and subjects: Martha Washington Goes to War, Astro City, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Harlan Ellison's Dream Corridor, Sin City, The Maxx, Groo

Also find out about the many upcoming events all about comics hosted by NCSU Libraries in November, including the screening of the documentary She Makes Comics, where Special Collection will provide a show-and-tell of our materials.

If you would like to learn more about the Special Collections Research Center and are interested in learning more about our materials or viewing them, please see information on using Special Collections materials and use our Special Collections Request Form.

Aug 26 2016

SCRC Processing Team Gears Up for 2016-2017

As students and faculty return to campus and think of interesting research projects using Special Collections, our processing team is reassembling and gearing up to make more of our collections findable and usable for them.  From receiving a collection to making it available for research, many people are involved.  Today we’ll tell you a little bit about who they are and what they’ll be working on this fall.

We receive new collections and additions to existing collections nearly every week, and we make these collections available as soon as possible by preparing container lists and preliminary collection guides immediately when they arrive. Then they go into a queue for extra arrangement and description depending on how we expect they might be used, and on the availability of processors and space.

One of our Library Associates processing a collection

Special Collections staff, of course, work on arranging and describing collections year round. Our University Archives Specialist spends much of her time inventorying materials as they arrive from University offices. Right now she is also working on a project with the records of the Cooperative Extension Director’s office to describe them in a way that will make them easier to find and use, in preparation for digitizing them. Our Digital Program Technician is currently arranging and describing a collection of comic books. A staff member in the Libraries’ Acquisitions and Discovery Department also helps with processing collections. Her expertise in metadata and cataloging are particularly helpful, especially with some of the large collections she has worked on.

We have two Library Associates– part-time, entry-level professional archivists who are graduate students in public history or library science–who arrange and describe collections. They also help with other aspects of archival work, including helping pick up collections from donors, writing blog posts (stay tuned – you’ll be hearing from them!), and other special projects that come up during their time with us. Because they are new this year, they will start out with some smaller collections, and as the year goes on they will work on larger and more complex collections.

This semester we will have two other graduate students processing collections in the SCRC, one from NCSU’s Public History Ph.D. program and one from UNC-CH’s Library Science program. These particular students have both worked at our Public Service desk and have helped inventory collections while there. We are fortunate to have graduate student processors who have worked with researchers so they will have researchers’ needs in mind as they arrange and describe collections.

We will also have three work-study students working with us this semester. The majority of their work will be re-foldering and inventorying collections. They will remove collection material from the folders in which it arrives and will place it in acid-free folders, then label the folders clearly and consistently, place them in acid-free boxes, and list them in a spreadsheet or directly in ArchivesSpace, our collection management software. Students who work at our Reading Room desk also do this kind of work when they are not actively engaged in helping researchers.

Visit our website for more information about finding and using archival collections at NCSU.   You can also search directly within our collection guides or browse a list of our collections for more.  If you have any questions about how to find or use the collections, as always, contact us!  We are here to help you find what you need.

Jun 27 2016

Making Archival Collections User-Friendly

In the Special Collections Research Center, we acquire and build unique collections that document historical and contemporary aspects of fields of study that are strengths for NC State University so that researchers will be able to find and use them now and in the future. To preserve these valuable collections, we store them carefully, using acid-free materials and in climate-controlled buildings. In order for people to find and use these collections, we organize them, describe them, and publish those descriptions on the worldwide web.

Descriptions are the first step in making collections usable for researchers. They are the maps that lead researchers to the materials of interest to them. Organizing and rehousing also help to make collections usable. Some collections come to us well-organized and clearly labeled. These were often taken right out of filing cabinets, packed in boxes, and shipped to us. Other collections have traveled convoluted paths to reach us, paths that may have involved being packed up quickly for a move, being packed by relatives or friends of the collection creators, being shifted from one kind of box to another so that similar records don’t stay together, or being stored for some time in attics or basements.

Box as received, before organizing and rehousing

One of the satisfactions of archival processing work, the work of organizing, rehousing and describing collections for research use, is seeing the visible difference that is made when collections are organized and rehoused. A collection stored in acid-free boxes and folders, neatly labeled, and described on the web is much more user-friendly than a disorganized box or collection. We haven’t yet processed all of our boxes, but our goal is to make all of our collections very user-friendly!

Box after organizing and rehousing

To learn more about our collections, please consult our collection guides.

May 17 2016

New Finding Aid for the Greenways Incorporated Records and Charles A. Flink Papers (Previously: Greenways Incorporated Records) is Now Available

NCSU Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center is pleased to announce that there is now a fully processed (and recently renamed) finding aid for the Greenways Incorporated Records and Charles A. Flink Papers.

This collection now contains more professional documents from, and about, Charles A. Flink, President of Greenways Incorporated. The Professional Papers and Publications series in the Greenways Incorporated Records and Charles A. Flink Papers allows researchers insight into the details of the professional life of a leading landscape architect.  Within the Professional Papers and Publications (1972-2014) series there are documents about awards that Charles A. Flink received over the years, articles and information about various greenways, and papers pertaining to the book he co-authored, Greenways: A Guide to Planning, published in 1993.

Final decision on art to use for the book Greenways: A Guide to Planning

Charles A. Flink started Greenways Incorporated, a landscape architecture firm that specializes in the development of greenways, in 1986. Greenways are paths that usually run along naturally occurring or already created man-made corridors and are designated for pedestrian use. There are multiple greenway collections at the NCSU Special Collections Research Center.

In addition to greenways in the United States, Charles A. Flink has worked on some international projects. His international projects are admired and he has been nationally recognized as well. In 1995 Charles A. Flink and Greenways Incorporated received an Environmental Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration for the innovative Swift Creek Recycled Greenway in Cary, N.C.

Plan for the Grand Canyon Greenway

The path, created out of recycled material, is an example of some of the local innovative work done by Charles A. Flink and Greenways Incorporated. Another famous trail he worked on is located away from North Carolina, the Grand Canyon Greenway in Arizona has become known nationally as it is part of a national park.

As is evident in this brief description, this collection possesses information on many different greenway projects. Please refer to the recently renamed, Greenways Incorporated Records and Charles A. Flink Papers for further information.

Feb 19 2016

Finding aid for Institute for Emerging Issues Records now available

NCSU Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center is happy to announce that the North Carolina State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues Records has been organized and arranged, and its finding aid is now available to view online.

The collection contains files and materials from the Institute of Emerging Issues, an organization that was founded to focus on non-partisan public policy in the enhancement of North Carolina’s long-term prosperity. Still successfully operating today, it seeks to educate and engage North Carolinians on new issues affecting the state’s economic competitiveness while encouraging advancement through collaboration. The Institute hosts several conferences, and is most well know for the annual Emerging Issues Forum, the most recent of which was held earlier this month at the Hunt Library.

The forum has hosted a number of notable speakers, such as Madeleine Albright, Erskine Bowles, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Michael Dukakis, Steve Forbes, Newt Gingrich, Al Gore, Sanjay Gupta, H. Ross Perot, Carl Sagan, and Governor Jim Hunt. Forum themes have included international economics, health, economic forecasting, education, and the environment.

Additionally, the printed programs for Emerging Issues Forums of past years have been digitized and are available to view on Special Collections’ Rare & Unique Digital Collections.

To discover more information on Special Collections’ archival collections, please visit our Collections Guides to examine our finding aids, or browse through the Rare and Unique Digital Collections to view our digitized materials.

Jan 12 2016

Introducing New Finding Aid for The William L. Flournoy, Jr. Papers

After a recent re-organization of the William L. Flournoy, Jr. Papers, 1968-2015, it is evident that Flournoy did a great deal more for Raleigh than improve bicycle recreation.

Bicycling has become an increasingly popular activity over the past decade.  In Raleigh, North Carolina cyclists will surely have enthusiastically noticed new additions to the greenway system, many of which have come about within the last ten years.  While the new expansions of the right-of-way passages are exciting, and could mean greater acceptance of using bicycles as a green alternative to cars, many people who utilize these trails may not be aware of how far back the planning for them goes.

Flyer for Bicycle Information, Raleigh, N.C., 1977 Can be Found in Box 1-5 Folder 5

In fact, the Raleigh greenway was an idea developed by a North Carolina State University graduate of the Landscape Architecture program in the 1970s.

William L. Flournoy, Jr. proposed “The Benefits, Potential, and a Methodology for Establishing the Capital City Greenway” in 1972 to the city council, as a Master’s student.  Once the plan was accepted Flournoy continued advocating for, and further expanding the Raleigh greenway operation.  Flournoy kept track of the development of the greenways and is still involved with them today.

Raleigh was one of the first cities, especially in the Southeast, to develop such an innovative system, as documented in a related collection, the Charles E. Little Papers, 1975-1990.  Little and Flournoy corresponded about the development of the greenway, and these interactions can be seen in both the Little papers as well as the William L. Flournoy, Jr. Papers.

However, in order to get a more in-depth look into the development of the Raleigh greenways, please view the newly organized William L. Flournoy, Jr. Papers, 1968-2015. While this collection includes many interesting details about Flournoy’s involvement and development of the greenway plan, it also documents many other projects Flournoy was a part of over his career.

Letter from Ronald Reagan, 1981 Can be Found in Box 1-6 Folder 15

Flournoy worked on a number of things ranging from bicycle transportation and beverage container legislation, to the early implementation of the National Environmental Policy and State Environmental Policy Acts.  The Flournoy papers, and his career, range from the very local, including the development of Raleigh Comprehensive Plans and documents about the Duraleigh connector, to the national, with documents covering conferences on climate change and meetings about the Keep America Beautiful innitiative.  Anyone interested in recreation, open space preservation, or environmental and recreation-oriented nonprofits would be enlightened by the William L. Flournoy, Jr. Papers, documenting the career of a devoted civil servant.