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Archiving paper, paper, and more paper…or not?

October 31, 2008

RVW-tapes.jpgComing into this project, I had assumed that all the materials I would be working with would be documents in nature.  The first couple of boxes I cracked open and accessioned seemed to agree with this.  However, during the accessioning stage, the Richard Wellman Papers yielded some surprising finds–as you can see above, not everything in an archival collection is made of paper.

One of the non-document items found was videotapes.  Upon preliminary inspection, I saw that the tapes were dated to 1990, or at least according to what the labels on them said.  After getting over my initial surprise of encountering VHS tapes, I wondered about the condition of them.  Were they viable?  If so, were they relevant to the papers?

After managing to find a room equipped to play videotapes, I finally was able to see the contents of the tapes as well as the man behind the papers I am working on.  According to the label on the tapes and the introduction in the beginning of one of the tapes, it was a colloquium about the Uniform Probate Code at SUNY - Albany Law School.  What was also interesting to see were some of the key players involved with the UPC, who also appeared frequently among Wellman’s papers.  I think I might need to set aside some time to finish watching the tape.  It looked like it could provide some insight into Wellman in addition to more information on the people active on the UPC with Wellman.

On a side note, some of the observations I made were on how prolific the speakers were.  Some of them spoke for a rather lengthy period of time.  The other interesting part of their speeches was their quirks and gestures when speaking.  If I were an expert poker player or an expert on body language, it would be interesting to interpret what their hand motions were also saying.