Documents in collection with no provenance

The purpose of PLAN’s Forums are to facilitate discussions on topics of professional interest to library staff. All library staff are invited to use the forums. For more information, see: About the Forums

Home Forums Archives and Local History Documents in collection with no provenance

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Laura Moree 2 years, 3 months ago.

Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • Author
  • #3457

    Laura Moree

    Hello Dean,

    Thank you for sharing your experience in this forum! I work in the Local History and Genealogy Department at the Bay County Public Library in Panama City, and have so for about 2.5 years.

    I have noticed that there are many documents in our vertical file that should be stored as a manuscript or manuscript collection. (For example, I have come across a stack of original deeds located in a “Deeds” file that are moldy and crumbling. There are also many original letters and private papers of individuals in the vertical file.) However, since these items may have been separated and no donor information was kept, the original order and provenance have been lost. How do you recommend I account for this fact when I move, catalog, and create finding aids for these items as manuscripts? Will a note stating this fact in the finding aid be sufficient?

    (In full disclosure, there has never been a “manuscript collection” designated as such and no finding aids have been created. I will be tackling this project in the near future!)

    Thank you for any advice you (and anyone else in the forum) may have for me!

    ~Laura Moree



    Hi Laura,

    When I do not have items that have a provenance or simply don’t know where they came from, but that might be important, I usually put a note in the finding aid. I’ve used “found in the backlog” but I don’t like that so I usually write a little note about where and when I found the materials . . . something like “These deeds were found as a group in a file drawer marked ” ” without indication of source or when received.” Then you date it and add your name, too. When I first came here, I found material like that and then some years later when the Director of the Libraries’ correspondence came in, I started finding thank you letters for specific items or groups and was able to put them together.

    Great Question!




    Laura Moree

    Thank you so much!


Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.