n.a set of archival or (more commonly) manuscript materialsGibb 1961, 339The question of what a librarian or archivist does with the business records his institution possesses and acquires can be answered only by taking a close look at the reasons why those records were kept or acquired. Often, of course, such collections just happen.Weber 1964, 63The following observations are limited to that part of the greater collection of Vatican Archives known as “secret” but the reader should not overlook the other holdings of the Vatican, which can only be mentioned here in passing.Brubaker 1964, 228One southern library, for instance, has a collection of the papers of a single iron works that is over twice as large as the entire manuscript holdings of a midwestern library that specializes in materials on the American Revolution and has one of the most important collections on the subject.Burke 1967, 259The latter project was begun in 1958. The 23 Presidential collections in the Library’s Manuscript Division have historically received heavy use both by researchers visiting the Library and by those outside the Washington area desiring photocopies of one or many documents from them.Campbell 1967, 279The impact is felt not only because of the great increase in the number of collections accumulated by individuals, corporate bodies, government agencies, and other record-gathering groups but also because of the ballooning size of each collection or archive.Kegan 1977, 13When the evaluation of President Nixon’s papers as Vice President was brought into question as a tax deduction, he claimed, with probable truth, that he could sell them piece by piece on the open market for more than the amount deducted. Of course, that was not the issue and such action would have scattered them to the proverbial four corners of the earth and would have effectively destroyed a research collection.Pearson and LaForte 1977, 185The depositories could accept collections from individuals and nongovernmental institutions, but their primary purpose was to be repositories for valuable public records created by county, city, and other local administrative units.Taylor 1977, 396The contents of archival repositories were brought together in an entirely artificial way (unless they contained the records of the parent body). This is not to say that the collections themselves were artificial; in most cases they were not, and archival principles preserved or re-created their original order.Evans 1987, 52Because of the wide variations that exist among archival traditions, and particularly in descriptive practices, sometimes entire fonds, groups, or collections are described only briefly in collective terms, while in other cases single file units and even individual documents are listed in detail.Overbeck 1993, 67By contrast, the Index of English Literary Manuscripts provides comparative analysis of materials available in scattered collections, allowing the scholar to consider issues of sequence, authenticity, and connections between materials that are not evident by looking at only a single collection or archives.McDowall 1993, 356We can no longer live in the expectation of neat, chronological collections of departmental or executive records arriving in pristine boxes on a dolly.Curral, Moss, and Stuart 2004, 137The term “collection” is also used as a sort of post hoc shorthand for a bunch of objects that have been deposited in a particular location and, perhaps now, form an identifiable subset of, or are simply part of, a larger collection.Greene and Meissner 2005, 208The paper issues a call for archivists to rethink the way they process collections, particularly large contemporary collections.Harris and Stine 2011, 633With increased accessibility comes increased scrutiny of archival access systems, and with scrutiny comes the possibility of grand-scale exposure of the weaknesses in the systems. The University of Illinois at Chicago, University Library, Special Collections Department (UIC Special Collections), experienced such a crisis when, in August 2008, a remote researcher requested to view what seemed an innocuous collection of organizational records held in the manuscripts division of the department.Yeo 2012, 43This paper examines ideas about the fonds, the collection, and the intersections between them. Archivists usually assume that “artificial” collections and “organic” fonds are mutually exclusive categories, but the author argues that rigid distinctions between “artificial” and “organic” are unsupportable.Punzalan 2014, 328Writing at a time before the age of mass digitization, O’Toole focused our attention on the need for developing ways to articulate the importance and value of archival collections centered on the nature and context of the record’s medium.Bromley, Christman, and Page 2015, 34Thus, we had to write appraisal and processing procedures from scratch. For the purposes of processing, we treated the Kaine email as a single collection (Governor Timothy M. Kaine Administration, Electronic Files, Email).Duff and Haskell 2015, 39To preserve and foreground this nature, archivists have traditionally represented records in hierarchical descriptions with a file belonging to one series and each series belonging to one collection.materials assembled by a person, organization, or repository from a variety of sources; an artificial collectionReingold 1964, 255–256Can we deduce the sources of the collection from a minute examination of its parts? I do not have any reliable evidence of how Rhees acquired the Hancock, Shippen, and Torrey documents or some other singular items.Evans 1977, 173The term “collection” is applied to photographs in the same way it is applied to manuscripts or papers. A collection may be either a body of photographs having a common source, usually a photographer or collector; or an artificial accumulation devoted to a common theme.APPM2 1989, 1.0AA body of archival material formed by or around a person, family group, corporate body, or subject either from a common source as a natural product of activity or function, or gathered purposefully and artificially without regard to original provenance.Johnston and Robinson 2002, 2The archival community has not traditionally used the term “collection” to label the aggregates of material they typically describe. Archivists make the distinction between an archival fonds, where the items are of known provenance and their arrangement reflects their original working order as the records of an organisation or individual, and an “artificial collection,” where the items are associated but lack the coherence of a fonds. The archivist recognises the fonds as the set of items that have been created and accumulated by an identifiable individual body (or bodies). However, it should be emphasised that both these classes of aggregates (the fonds and the artificial collection) are “collections” in the more general sense in which the term is used here. Within an archival fonds, an item can be fully understood only within the context of its relationship with other items and aggregates in the fonds, and descriptive practice reflects this.RAD 2008, D-3Collection. (1) A grouping of documents of any provenance intentionally assembled on the basis of some common characteristic. . .(sometimes pl., collections) a thematic aggregation of sets of otherwise unrelated archival materialsBrubaker 1964, 230The Historical Society of North Carolina gave its manuscripts to the University of North Carolina for inclusion in the Southern Historical Collections, and the Texas State Historical Association has deposited its manuscripts in the University of Texas Library.Levine 1977, 198It should also be noted here that there is a large collection of county records in the West Virginia Collection at West Virginia University.(also pl., collections) the holdings of a repository, taken as a wholeDuniway 1961, 60A growing number of corporations now consciously collect old records. The papers of the founder are often the basis of an archival collection.Brubaker 1964, 247Among other things, Peckham pointed out that a library’s economic support depends partly on the number of scholars who come to the library to use its collections.Rundell 1967, 548In the latter case the usual pattern is for the institution to identify a set of papers it wishes to add to its collection and then to seek an affluent friend or “angel” to buy the papers and donate them to the institution.Potts 1977, 46And when possible, copies of documents and printed sources should be obtained to fill any gaps in a college’s collection.Endelman 1987, 341Collection analysis is one such tool. As a method to assess a repository’s holdings in specific categories, it provides a profile of an institution’s collection at a particular time.Curral, Moss, and Stuart 2004, 137In the physical world the term “collection” is employed variously by archivists, museum curators, and librarians. Sometimes it is used to describe all the holdings of a repository which have been “collected,” as it were, by successive curators. In these circumstances the contents of the repository are the result of a “deliberate” policy of collecting.Greene 2015, 29When it was unavoidable or essential to put problems on the agenda, they were the mammoth problems that I could not solve on my own (for example, the continual leaks in our building’s roof, which threatened our collections’ safety).the process and practice of collecting archival materialsLeland 1964, 190The American Historical Association, founded in 1884, had been incorporated by Congress on January 4, 1889, for “the collection and preservation of historical manuscripts, and for kindred purposes in the interest of American history and of history in America.”Brubaker 1964, 226Collection and preservation of manuscripts has always been an important function of major historical societies.Brichford 1967, 572Many administrators will never realize that the archivist is both a specialist or technician in the arts of preservation and a generalist or professional in the collection and evaluation of documentation.Filippelli 1977, 403A recent stay as a visiting archivist in Great Britain offered this writer the opportunity to work closely with archivists, historians, and others actively engaged in the collection and preservation of the records of industrial society.Boles 1987, 364The size and the scope of the collection should be judged by local needs and constraints, not national norms.Alexander and Samuels 1987, 519A documentation strategy attempts to fill the breach by involving records creators, administrators (including archivists), and users in a joint analysis of documentation problems, and in the planning and coordination of a more unified approach to the creation, collection, and retention of records.Overbeck 1993, 63Just as the nature of an archival collection informs the nature of the inquiry, so does the inquiry influence a scholar's perception of archives and their role in research.
The word collection is one of the many fraught terms in archives. The term bears the weight of many, and sometimes contradictory, meanings, but it remains a heavily used term, and there is a good reason it is so: because, everything in an archives, in the end, is collected by archivists—or foisted upon it by a higher power. Everyone uses the term, but many hate it. To the purist, the term collection appears to suggest the archivist assembles archives from scraps rather than appraises the records the archives acquires. To the manuscripts librarian, the term may suggest every collection is an artificial collection—since, indeed, many are.