Cataloguing is just part of the work the Collections Team does; amongst other things we are involved in improvements to our online catalogue, producing guides to our collections, encouraging new deposits and working with volunteers. However, cataloguing is an important aspect of our work.
The Collections Team undertakes cataloguing work which benefits WYAS’s 5 offices (Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield). The team currently focuses on material from public sector organisations, such as council records, hospital records, and police records. At the moment, we are working on the archives of the West Riding County Council (1888-1974).
Our cataloguing work involves a number of stages –
With a large collection, initially we look to see whether parts of the collection have already been catalogued and then we will “box-list” all the uncatalogued records so we have an overview of what a collection contains. We might also do some tidying up – removing duplicates, blank pieces of paper etc – at this stage (part of what archivists call “appraisal”). We may also need to do further research into the history of the collection which could involve looking at not only the records themselves but books, websites, accession paperwork (the documentation which is completed when a collection is deposited) from which we can draw up detailed administrative histories and flow charts.
Once we know more about the collection and the way the records relate to each other we can decide how the records should be structured in the catalogue. If the records have already been listed in the past sometimes the Collections Team may need to also “retroconvert” old paper lists lists onto our cataloguing database. These lists often need to be restructured to make them easier to use and to conform with modern cataloguing standards.
Once the structure is decided records are organised in our cataloguing database and the records can be marked up in pencil with a collection reference number which matches the number it has been allocated in the catalogue. It may also be appropriate to repackage some or all of the collection, for example, by putting items in acid-free folders or removing rusty paper-clips.
To give a flavour of what the Collections Team do here is some of the material that the team has worked on in the past few years:
Town Clerk’s Department records for Bradford Borough, Batley Borough, Leeds, West Riding County Council, Morley Borough, Huddersfield County Borough
Leeds and Bradford Police records
Calderdale township records and local authorities including: Hebden Royd Urban District Council, Hebden Bridge Urban District Council and local board, Mytholmroyd Local Board/Urban District Council, Hepton Rural District Council, Todmorden Rural District Council (including Todmorden Rural Sanitary Authority), Halifax Borough and records relating to Brighouse, Elland, Halifax, Heptonstall, Ripponden and Sowerby Bridge
Hemsworth Board of Guardians
Leeds local authorities including: Pudsey Borough, Calverley Urban District Council and Farsley Urban District Council
Stanley Royd hospital records