Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Monday, January 05, 2009

Fun in the N.C. State Archives

I went to both the North Carolina State Archives and the North Carolina State Library on my trip to Raleigh this past week. I had a listing of documents that I needed to get from the archives and files at the Archives. As I began to look, I was having a time finding one document as it was cited. It was getting near the end of the time I was spending there that day, so I decided to run to the library and double-check the citation before returning to the archives the next morning. I discovered that I had not really written down anything incorrectly so I went back upstairs and began looking around the microfilm room again. Those numbers for the film just didn't seem to correspond to anything in the room. I finally went up to the desk. They immediately recognized that number as an "old" number. Apparently someone had gone through and renumbered that portion of the archives at some point since the book had been published. One of the ladies who had worked in the archives a long time ago was able to find the originals which had the new number as well as the old on it. They also had a note saying they were too fragile to use and that the microfilm should be used. When they checked their finding aids, the number that was listed corresponded to something else. I'll make a long story short at this point and say that we finally located the film about an hour after I'd begun looking that morning. I was able to get my copies of the records I was seeking and several other colonial period items that I was seeking. After discovering that it took the archivists that long to find that item, I didn't feel so badly that I'd had trouble finding it! I suspect there are other who have stories about difficulties finding items after finding aids have been published when archives renumber items. I recall hearing about archives being renumbered a time or two when I've been in sessions at some of the national conferences. It would be nice if they made some sort of note to stick in the front of the published books in the state library so that those using those records will know the new classification the archives is using for the items instead of spending all that time trying to track them down!

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