Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts
Kathleen D. Roe
Society of American Archivists, 2005
Kathleen Roe's guide to arranging and describing archival materials provides both practical advice and critical context, creating an important resource for archivists in all walks of their professional lives.
The arrangement and description of archival materials has so changed since Fredric M. Miller's 1990 edition of ARRANGING AND DESCRIBING ARCHIVES AND MANUSCRIPTS that it may nearly seem a new practice. Kathleen Roe's thorough and readable revision, however, shows that this critical function of archival work is truly one based on core principles that still hold today.
Roe has intermingled the theory and context in which collections are arranged and described with clear and practical instructions on the process, resulting in a work that is richer than an instruction manual, yet equally valuable. The chapter on "The Context of Arrangement and Description" provides a clear discussion of the origins of the practice in Europe and the United States, and moves into an historical overview of developing standards that archivists of all levels will appreciate for its clarity. The lengthy chapter on "The Practice of Arrangement and Description" is complemented by appendices that offer sample scenarios, arrangement patterns, and finding aids. Together, these provide a sturdy foundation for students or novice archivists seeking to hone their processing skills. Just as the importance of arrangement and description to the archivist cannot be overstated, neither can the significance of this text in describing that process. Roe's work will introduce new archivists to the practice as well as refresh the sensibilities of seasoned professionals for years to come.