Training Manual

Shirley Historic Records Project

This project is being funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Historic Records Advisory Board and local donors. The goal is to inventory Shirley’s historic records and to educate records managers as to the appropriate care of these records.
Table of Contents for Historic Records Project Training Manual

Reference copies are available at the Hazen Library, the Town Clerk’s Office, and the Shirley Historical Society Museum.


This manual is intended for use by officials, staff and volunteers in the Town of Shirley as they accumulate, collect and store archival materials in the Town Offices, Historical Society, Hazen Library, and other specialized archives in Shirley.  It also serves as a general introduction to the field of archives management for individuals interested in Shirley history and culture.

In order that archival material can be accurately described and cared for in Shirley, this manual outlines general archives concepts in some detail and will provide samples that staff and trained volunteers can use as guidelines.

This document also served as a training manual for use during presentations by the consulting archivist in spring and summer, 2001.  Three workshops were held for the public, collection managers, and collection assistants.

The first workshop, “What is an Historic Record?”  was aimed at everyone interested in Shirley history and is intended to provide a very broad overview of the archives field.
The second workshop, “What Are Standard Archives Techniques That Will Help Us Manage Collections?” was aimed at those in charge of caring for Shirley archival collections.
The third workshop, “What Practical Things Can We Do to Improve the Storage and Organization of Our Records?” was aimed at collection managers and their assistants including staff and volunteers who help organize and care for materials.

This manual and the courses provided acquainted Shirley archives caretakers with archival theory and provided a good background in archives methods. However, archives caretakers should recognize that the assistance of a trained archivist may sometimes be needed.

Please feel free to call or e-mail me with questions when necessary.  (603) 661-7611.

Introduction 4
Shirley Historic Records Project: Training Session One – What is a Historic Record? 5
What are Archives? 6
Types of Records and Archives 6
Archivists and Records Managers 6
Why Are Historic Records Important? 7
Our Responsibilities Regarding Historic Records 8
Collaboration! 9
Shirley Historic Records Project: Training Session Two – What Are Standard Archives Techniques That Will Help Us Manage Collections? 10
Theory – Archives as a Specialty 11
Definitions of Archival Terms 12
Special Collections Versus Institutional Archives 14
Sample forms for managing collections 14
Sample Donor Form 15
Sample Archives Accession Worksheet 16
Appraisal Scorecard 17
Summary of Important Time Periods 18
Sample Collection Development Policy 19
Sample – Records Management Plan 25
Sample Records Survey / Retention Schedule 27
Sample Mission Statements 28
Sample Access Policy 29
Sample Outreach Plan 30
Sample Archives Reference Request Form 34
Shirley Historic Records Project: Training Session Three  – What Practical Things Can We Do to Improve the Storage and Organization of Our Records? 35
Accessioning Records – Establishing Provenance 36
Preservation 38
Arranging Collections – Sanctity of Original Order 40
Describing Archival Collections 41
Sample Finding Aids 43
Appendix IV Archival Supplies 47
Appendix V. For More Assistance 48
Recommended Reading for Arrangement and Description of Archives 48

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