How do archivists organize collections?

Archives @ PAMA

In our posts on what archivists do and on what it’s like to visit the archives, we promised you a closer look at how archivists organize collections. Here it is: we hope this post demystifies some of the terminology and techniques archivists use. But most of all, we hope to convince you that what makes archival research a bit slower is also what makes it so rich.

Libraries vs. Archives

As a new archival researcher you might assume that archivists group documents together based on the topics they cover. So, you might ask us where we store all our information on a particular subject; say, railway bridges, aboriginal history, agricultural fairs, or shoe factories.

What you’ll find is that archivists may send you off in multiple directions to comb through sometimes unlikely and unrelated groups of records. For example, to research aboriginal history here at the Peel Archives, we…

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