June 4, 1997
Mr. Daniel A. Stokes
National Archives and Records Administration
National Historical Publications and Records Commission
Washington, DC 20408
Grant # 96-078
Though the grant letter clearly stated that an interim narrative report was due on January 31, 1997, I neglected to review that document and forgot that I needed to prepare the report. Please accept this belated report concerning the activities of the Hare and Hare Project to date.
The goal of this fifteen-month Project is to enhance access to the records of the architectural landscape and city planning firm of Hare and Hare through a comprehensive arrangement and description of the records, and to conserve the materials by flattening, repairing, and providing appropriate storage. As a means of promoting the use of the collection, we shall produce a detailed guide to the materials, both in hard-copy and in electronic format, which we will make known to scholars of urban history, design, and planning.
Though we have faced a variety of problems in accomplishing the Project, we are proceeding generally as was outlined in the Proposal. Under my supervision, one full-time archivist and two half-time graduate students were hired to perform the main work of processing the papers, flattening the folded drawings, and preparing the finding aids. In addition, Jennifer Parker, Senior Manuscript Specialist at WHMC-KC is providing professional guidance and support to the team. We have contract with an outside photographer to duplicate the photographic negatives, part of which have been logged, placed in protective sleeves and given to the photographer to have 5x7 prints made. We have also secured the services of a professional conservator and an architectural historian to provide guidance and expertise in the care and arrangement of the papers.
To be specific: we began the project late, officially on October 1st, because of difficulties encountered in securing adequate space on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. The location we had originally anticipated using proved unworkable, and a variety of renovation projects this last year made space on campus impossible to acquire. Instead we secured donated space off-
campus. Though useable, the facility is a bit small for our needs and its arrangement less than ideal. Unfortunately, we will need to vacate that space in October for a location as yet unidentified.
Keri Peterson began work as a full-time archivist on October 1st. Keri had worked on the team who had prepared the preliminary inventory of the Hare and Hare Records, so she was already familiar with the collection and our procedures. As had been expected we have had turnover in the part-time staff for a variety of reasons, the most common being the person found a full-time opportunity and moved on. I have been able to fill the positions immediately, but this has resulted in the need to spend additional time training and bringing new staff up to speed.
Generally the work has proceeded as planned. We discovered early that we needed to modify our numbering and descriptive systems slightly to accommodate some curious aspects of the collection. We had an elusive computer problem that required replacement of the hardware. And we found that the folded drawings were in need of more extensive repair than we anticipated.
Allow me to walk you though the work to provide a clear idea of the process involved. We constructed a large walk-in humidification chamber measuring approximately 6 by 8 feet. We have two plastic shelving units with up-right dividers, which allows for about 200-300 sheets of drawings for each cycle of 6-8 hours. Before being placed in the chamber, each sheet or group of sheets is tagged with a pencil note of its original folder number. When removed from the chamber, the sheets are flattened between blotter paper for about 6 hours. When taken from the flattening table, they are stacked on a large shelving unit we built to accommodate them. The sheets are then repaired, new job numbers are assigned, and finally they are rolled on to 3-inch tubes for storage.
Repairs involve the removal of old tape if necessary and the application of heat-set tissue tape to fix tears. We have been very pleased with the heat-set tissue because it is easy to use and provides an archivally sound solution to an otherwise difficult and expensive problem. So far the tissue has worked well on all the drawing media, including linens. We are also very pleased with the system we have devised for rolling and storing the drawings. We use 3-inch paper tubes cut to fit easily into 36-inch long boxes. The paper tube is sleeved with 2 mil polyethylene plastic and the drawings are rolled around its outside. Different jobs (e.g. sets of drawings) are put on each tube in job file number order, and are separated from one another with an identification sheet of acid-free paper that gives the pertinent information about the project. As many as 50 sheets of drawings can be placed on each tube, with a log of the included job file numbers tied around it. The tube and drawings are then inserted into another polyethylene sleeve as an outer protective wrapper, which is secured by tucking its ends into the ends of the paper tube. The job file log for the tube is clearly visible, the drawings are well protected, and the whole fits neatly into the box.
Because we are storing more than one job per tube, we will be using far fewer tubes and boxes than we projected in the grant. Moreover, as we have gotten a better handle on exactly how many sheets of drawings are in the folders we have revised our estimate downward from 50,000 to closer to 40,000. This is still a formidable number, particularly since we have found it takes longer to deal with the drawings because of their condition.
At this point we have processed 11,000 sheets into about 1,900 job files. We estimate at least another 10,000 sheets, exclusive of the 12,000 drawings previously rolled in the preliminary processing, which have yet to be integrated into the system. We have processed 58 of the 225 cubic feet of the collection, but this figure is deceptive because those 58 boxes represent the most intensive and difficult. We project about 20 more in this series; it takes about two days to work through each, depending on the number of drawings enclosed in it.
We have begun working with the photographs and negatives with about half of the nitrate 2x3 inch negatives having been logged and sleeved. These are being meted out to our photographer to do as he can. Our estimate of approximately 4,000 negatives still holds. Prints are being removed from the files, marked with a job number, and filed separately.
Lastly, we have devised an inter-linking database of forms into which we record the information about the collection; and the preliminary inventory is being updated and improved with new information gleaned from the processing. Moreover, misfiled or mislabeled materials are being put into order.
In some ways the goals of our proposal were too optimistic because of conditions we found once we had delved deeply into the collection. Despite several serious samplings of the number and condition of the folded drawings, we have been surprised by the amount of repair required, particularly in the time-consuming removal of old tape. Training of the staff and working through details of forms development and procedures which were most efficient required about three weeks and much on-site discussion of the pros and cons of particular methods. This was a most useful exercise that resulted in deviations from our usual procedures which worked better with the nature of the Hare and Hare material, and fit better the physical set up in which we worked. It did, however, mean we had a slow start. Fortunately, as the routine has been established, the speed of processing has picked up measurably.
The average number of drawings in the most intense part of the collection is between about 300 sheets per cubic foot. Also, the set up of the workspace plays a larger role in this kind of project than we could have anticipated. Our room is linear in shape whereas our workflow is not. A larger open space rather than a long, narrow one would be more appropriate. To work around this we have had to construct shelves that stack the work rather than to spread it out on tables. Also, the removal of the drawings form cubic foot boxes into 3-foot boxes means we are expanding the volume by 3 times. Dealing with this has not yet become a problem but will in the near future.
I have been, and still am, concerned about the speed at which the work is progressing. Again, we have gone about one-fourth of the way through the boxes in about 8 months and this figure does not include the integration of the rolled drawings into the new system. However, I take comfort in the fact that the material processed so far represents the most difficult work to be done. I am certain we will need to extend the time-frame of the Project to January 1st, 1998, in order to make up for the three month delay in starting. I do not yet know if we will need to seek an additional grant to complete the work.
We have made an effort to promote the receipt of the Grant and the fact that the collection is available. We continue to use the collection even though it is in processing, and a number of scholars and others have done research in the material. I have given three public presentations on the history of Hare and Hare and the Project, and I expect to do several more over the next few months.
We have raised $10,100 in matching money and have received very strong indications that a request for $9,900 will be approved in about a month. We have also received in-kind donations, primarily in the form of waiver of rent, in excess of $5,000.
Comments and suggestions:
I am not sure there is more to add except that regardless of the difficulties in getting the Project started, the logistical problems of space and staff turn-over, and the unexpected slowness with which the processing is proceeding, that I am still optimistic of our outcome and pleased with the quality of the work we are performing.
I hope this document satisfies our requirement for a narrative report. I welcome any questions you may have and promise to watch my schedule to insure that future reports are not late.
© WHMC-KC, University of Missouri
updated: Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Kansas City
(816) 235-1543 WHMCKC@umkc.edu