The University of Alabama
Project Narrative
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3. Plan of Work for the Grant Period
Description of work and timeline

Two project archivists will be hired (one for each campus) who will simultaneously process the collections and create finding aids to be mounted on a new Web site by the University of Alabama Libraries. The Web site will serve as the prototype for a statewide finding aid site, to be hosted and supported by the University of Alabama Libraries, and, following the completion of the project, the site will be developed into a fully-supported finding aid repository for all Alabama libraries and archives.

It is anticipated that the newly-hired archivists may have minimal experience in processing archival collections, and, therefore, they will first review processing methods and basic preservation techniques under the direction of the University of Alabama Libraries archival access coordinator, Ms. Donnelly Lancaster. Mrs. Deborah Haile, Head of Technical Services at Tuskegee, will travel to The University of Alabama Libraries for all or part of this training period to insure full understanding and agreement on workflow, procedures, and standards for the project at Tuskegee.

When the project archivists are ready to begin, Ms. Lancaster and Mr. Clark Center, curator of the Hoole Special Collections Library at Alabama, who is also the project director, will travel to Tuskegee to meet with appropriate libraries and archives personnel. As a group, they will discuss commonalities and differences in the collections at each institution, develop common approaches to processing and reviewing standards, and establish workflow in the Tuskegee Archives for the project. Travel expenses will be cost-shared by the two libraries.

The project archivists will then begin work. In their separate locations, one in the manuscripts processing area of the Hoole Library, the other in the new Archives at Tuskegee, they will refolder, rebox, arrange, and describe the collections, with the help of student assistants hired for the project. Description will be to the folder level of the collections included in the project, and the archivists will create both paper finding aids and electronic versions marked up in EAD. The finding aids will be used to create MARC records for each collection, which will be added to the holding libraries' OPACs and to OCLC (the University of Alabama's member symbol is ALM; Tuskegee's member symbol is TUS).

Throughout the project, the project archivists will submit monthly internal reports to their supervisors, who will share the reports with the project director. The Alabama project archivist will report to the archival access coordinator in the Hoole Library; the Tuskegee project archivist will report to their head of technical services. The project director will be responsible for preparing and submitting the final project report to NHPRC.

The project director will visit Tuskegee semi-annually once the project begins, to review the setup and processing of materials, to share information on progress at Alabama, give guidance on any topic associated with the project, provide feedback, and monitor progress. The costs for travel will be contributed as cost-sharing by Alabama.

Throughout the project, the head of technical services at Tuskegee will forward invoices for work being funded through the grant to Ms. Harriet Deason, Business Officer at the University of Alabama Libraries, who is responsible for all financial transactions associated with the grant.

Timeline for the project

7/1/06 - 9/1/06
interviewing and hiring of two project archivist positions for the University of Alabama and Tuskegee University libraries (advertisements will have been placed in NHPRC-recommended journals and lists by July 1, 2006)
9/1/06 - 9/15/06
project archivists review archival processing standards and procedures at the Hoole Library. Evaluation and analysis of collections at both institutions begins and processing and workflow plans are created. Student assistants are hired for the project.
9/15/06 - 6/30/08
project archivists and student assistants are fully engaged in the work of the project at their respective sites
archival access coordinator at Alabama sets up finding aid Web site and Web page for progress reports and publicity on the project
10/31/06 - 6/30/08
project archivists submit monthly progress reports to supervisors
1st visit to Tuskegee by project director
2nd visit to Tuskegee by project director
3rd visit to Tuskegee by project director
final visit to Tuskegee by project director.
6/1/08 - 6/30/08
project director prepares and submits the final grant report to NHPRC.

Work space, supplies, equipment, furnishings

The project archivists will be housed in existing work areas at both Alabama and Tuskegee. Desks, chairs, computers, and other necessary equipment and furnishings will be supplied by the host libraries. Processing the collections will necessitate the purchase of acid- neutral archival boxes, acid-neutral folders, and general office supplies for the project, the costs for which will be contributed by both universities. Folders and boxes used to house the materials will be of a suitable weight to give adequate support to the materials and will have a pH of 8.5.

Estimated processing rates and total processing time

The collections to be processed at the Hoole Special Collections Library:

Name of collection : Septimus D. Cabaniss Papers, 1855-193?
Linear feet : 9.5
Processing rate : 20 hrs/l. ft.
Total time 4.5 weeks
Name of collection : Shelby Iron Company Records, 1854-192?
Linear feet : 491 linear feet and 442 ledgers
Processing rate : 7 hrs/l. ft.
Total time 83.5 weeks
Notes: Much of this collection consists of ledgers and smaller record-keeping books and large groups of like records which are together and in order. The estimated processing time is therefore low.

The collections to be processed at Tuskegee University Archives:

Name of collection : Southern Courier Records, 1965 - 1968
Linear feet : 13.5
Processing rate : 20 hrs/l. ft.
Total time 6.75 weeks
Name of collection : The Tuskegee Civic Association Records
Linear feet : 20.9
Processing rate : 20 hrs/l. ft.
Total time 10.45 weeks
Name of collection : Southern Conference for Human Welfare and Southern Conference Education Fund Records, 1945 - 1968
Linear feet : 60
Processing rate : 20 hrs/l. ft.
Total time 30 weeks
Name of collection : Virginia Foster Durr Papers, 1903 - 1999
Linear feet : 8.9
Processing rate : 20 hrs/l. ft.
Total time 4.45 weeks
Name of collection : Charles Gomillion Papers, 1900 - 1995
Linear feet : 5.4
Processing rate : 20 hrs/l. ft.
Total time 2.7 weeks
Name of collection : Tuskegee Crises Study
Linear feet : 2.3
Processing rate : 20 hrs/l. ft.
Total time 1.15 weeks
Name of collection : Ross Owens Papers, 1926-1933; 1941-1972
Linear feet : 55
Processing rate : 20 hrs/l. ft
Total time 27.5 weeks

Rates and times are based on the Archival Processing Manual, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University ( The processing rate guidelines of the Beineke Library, are just that, guidelines. They state "[p]rocessing rates vary a great deal from collection to collection. The following guidelines have been found to be both useful and reliable. It must be noted, however, that processing estimates are derived from preliminary examinations of collections of papers. It is always possible, therefore, that complications will be found during processing that were not anticipated at the time of the survey." In short, having surveyed the collections and applied the guidelines to them to determine the correct processing rates, we are, as are all archivists, left with our best estimate.

While the Shelby Iron Company Records do include series of records which will be straightforward in their processing, there are other series (correspondence, vouchers, etc.) which appear to have been badly disarranged during the period between their active use and being given to the University of Alabama. In addition, much of the material was stored loose and open on an active industrial site, and will require a great deal of cleaning. The collections at the Tuskegee Archives are in disorder, and will require time and careful attention.


While Fredric M. Miller's Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 1990, and other similar works, provide guidance for processing manuscripts, there are no current standards for manuscript processing such as there are for content. Collections will be processed to the folder level as appropriate. Reference to the sample finding aid from the University of Alabama in the Supplementary Materials should make clear the level of processing. The content standard for the finding aids and MARC records will be Describing Archives: a Content Standard (DACS), Society of American Archivists, 2004, which is replacing Personal Papers and Manuscripts (APPM) as the content standard of the archival community. The practices known as holdings maintenance are considered standard practice in both institutions, as both libraries seek to preserve their collections and make them available to researchers as for as long as possible.

"While considerable effort has been applied to the development of cataloging-related standards in the U.S. during the last decade . . . , most other archival descriptive formats have gone virtually untouched by standards developers. (Standards for Archival Description: A Handbook. Compiled by Victoria Irons Walch for the Working Group on Standards for Archival Description with contributions by Marion Matters). Chapter 5: Finding Aids And Other Descriptive Formats (Non-Cataloging Structure and Content Standards).

Addition of records and information to bibliographic networks and Web sites

MARC records for the finding aids will be added to the project libraries' catalogs and to OCLC. The finding aids will be mounted on the new Web site designed for the project and as a prototype for a future statewide finding aid site. Other Web sites to which the finding aids will be contributed will include: Alabama Mosaic ( (a digital site created through an earlier statewide grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services), the Librarian's Guide to Information on the Internet (, The Library of Congress' website, EAD Sites on the Web (, and Repositories of Primary Sources (University of Idaho, Terry Abraham) (


Archival organization methods implemented during the project, and the creation of finding aids will conform to national and international standards and established practices, and will be designed to be shared electronically on the Web. Project methodology is in compliance with the Joint Statement on Access of the American Library Association and the Society of American Archivists: Guidelines for Access to Original Source Materials.

Continuing support for the project activities following the grant period

The collections in question are part of the permanent collections of the two institutions, and as such will be maintained and supported permanently. The two institutions will continue to promote collection use by researchers, and finding aids will remain on the World Wide Web indefinitely. Reference staff will continue to assist researchers in the use of these collections. The University of Alabama Libraries and Tuskegee University Libraries will explore opportunities and funding to process additional collections through grants or other means in the future. Both institutions have committed to continued cooperative endeavors.