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PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF FEDERAL ARCHIVES
Before any plans for the accession of archives could be made, a careful survey of the archives of the Government was necessary, in order to ascertain their volume, the location of the more than 225 different buildings in the District of Columbia in which they are deposited, their present state of preservation, the hazards to which they are exposed, and the impediments to work in their present depositories; and to estimate so far as possible the volume of them that will probably be transferred to the National Archives Building. A
group of highly trained and qualified deputy examiners were assigned to this task, and by the close of the year they were making a careful survey of the archives of the several executive departments. The results of their work are recorded in the report of the Chief of the Division of Accessions (p. 27).
STUDIES IN CLASSIFICATION AND CATALOGING
Efficient administration of any collection of archives accessioned by The National Archives requires that careful studies of the systems of classification and cataloging in use in departments of the Government be made before any of their archives are transferred to the National Archives Building. Without such classification and cataloging, it would be impossible from the tens of millions of documents on file in the stacks to locate materials that may be needed. In this work it was necessary to break new ground. The catalog, of course, is based upon the classification, and obviously any scheme of classification of the archives of any government must reflect the organization and development of the particular government for which it is designed and must have as much uniformity as is feasible. Consequently, the development of a scheme of classification for The National Archives of the United States requires extensive study of the evolution of the organization and functions of the Government and its many subdivisions from their establishment to the present time. Rules for the classification and cataloging of printed books have long been in existence, but no adequate rules exist for the classification and cataloging of archives. The National Archives, therefore, will have to work out its own system of rules for both classification and cataloging and is thus faced with the greatest projects in these fields undertaken anywhere in recent years. This work, which was begun with the organization of the Division of Classification, is described in the report of the Chief of the Division (p. 28).
STORAGE AND PRESERVATION OF FILMS
The most pressing problems connected with the acceptance of motion-picture films by The National Archives, and those to which greatest attention has been given, concern the storage and preservation of films and the protection of the National Archives Building and its contents from possible fire hazards that might result from the storage of motion-picture films in it. In his efforts to find satisfactory solutions to these problems, the Chief of the Division and his staff have spared no pains or trouble. Many conferences were held with the chief producers and distributors of motion pictures in this country as well as with private chemists and engineers, members of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, representatives of the fire marshal
of the District of Columbia, and the motion-picture experts of the Departments of War, Interior, and Commerce and of the United States Bureau of Standards. The results are discussed in the report of the Chief of the Division (p. 29).
The following opinions of recognized authorities in this field should not only interest but reassure any who may doubt the propriety of storing motion-picture films in the National Archives Building:
A. N. Dickinson, fire-prevention representative of the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America, Inc., June 27, 1935: I read with a great deal of interest and very carefully the preliminary specifications covering the storage equipment for motion-picture films in the National Archives Building, and I believe that every possible precaution for the care and preservation of film has been prescribed in your memorandum.
M. E. Gillete, captain, Signal Corps, 0. I. C., Army Pictorial Service, July 12, 1935 : I have gone over the specifications for the film storage vaults very carefully. I believe that, if the installation is made in accordance with your specifications, you will have one of the most modern and the safest motionpicture filing vaults in the country. You are certainly providing a degree of protection far beyond that generally taken in the storage of motion-picture film. Periodic inspection of the film, combined with the safety features incorporated in your specifications, should eliminate all possibility of fire in your vaults with consequent damage to other records in the Archives Building. The storage conditions in the Signal Corps vaults are such that with frequent inspections we believe them to be free from fire hazards due to spontaneous combustion. Your vaults, if built in accordance with these specifications, should be so superior in type to those used by us that there should be no question of spontaneous combustion of film stored in them, provided that periodic inspection is made.
M. F. Leopolil, supervising engineer, motion-picture-production section, Bureau of Mines, June 24, 1935: I have read with much interest and care the preliminary specifications covering storage equipment for motion-picture films in the National Archives Building. If these specifications are carried out, I believe nothing will have been left undone to insure the safety of films stored in the new Archives Building.
8. H. Ingberg, chief, fire-resistance section, Bureau of Standards, November 5, 1935: As a result of the examination of the plans (of motion-picture cabinets and arrangements for the storage of nitrocellulose motion-picture film in the National Archives Building] made at this time, as also from that made some months ago
it can be stated that very adequate precautions have been taken to safeguard the hazard of the storage of nitrocellulose film in this case. These precautions go considerably beyond what is ordinarily required as giving a reasonable degree of safety and even beyond what might be considered adequate for a building of the type and occupancy represented by the Archives Building.
There was available to The National Archives during the fiscal year 1935, for personal services and other obligations, $125,000; of this sum, $50,000 was appropriated in the Emergency Appropriation Act, fiscal year 1935, approved June 19, 1934 (48 Stat. L. 1026); and $75,000 was made immediately available for use during the fiscal year 1935 from the funds appropriated for The National Archives in the First Deficiency Appropriation Act, fiscal year 1935, approved March 21, 1935 (Public, No. 21, 74th Cong.).
Statement of obligations and expenditures for the fiscal year ending June
30, 1935 Personal services
$28, 429 Supplies and material.
1, 524 Communication service
531 Travel expense
1, 095 Printing and binding--
882 Repairs and alterations.--
129 Miscellaneous and current
1, 607 Equipment
Total obligations and expenditures. Unobligated balance
RELATIONS WITH OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES
The nature of the functions of The National Archives necessarily brings it in frequent and close contact with other agencies of the Government. It is chiefly concerned with the preservation and administration of records they have made it surveys those records; reports on their physical condition; appraises their administrative value and historical interest; recommends their transfer in certain cases to its own custody; classifies, catalogs, and files them; and makes regulations governing their use. Obviously The National Archives cannot successfully perform these functions without the support of the agencies that produced the records with which it is dealing, and it is a pleasure to be able to record that in every case in which its representatives have sought to establish relations with other Federal agencies they have met with most cordial cooperation
REPORTS OF OFFICES AND DIVISIONS
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF ARCHIVAL SERVICE
(From the report of the Acting Director, Mr. HYDE) The duties of this Office during the fiscal year 1934-35 were performed by the special assistant to the Archivist as Acting Director of Archival Service. His chief activities were concerned with the budget of The National Archives for the year 1936, problems of protective equipment for the National Archives Building and its contents, studies of professional functions and organization, reports on the disposition of useless papers, legislation affecting The National Archives, and similar matters.
Work on the budget included the following points:
1. Functional break-down of the professional activities of The National Archives and the development of a divisional set-up.
2. Study of personnel required in roughly comparable divisions in other research institutions, and estimates of kinds and numbers of employees required for each division.
3. Study of the salary question, determination of salary grades, and compilation of salary totals for the professional divisions.
4. Preparation of budget justifications for the professional divisions.
EQUIPMENT AND PROTECTIVE SYSTEM
A number of questions relating to equipment, protective devices, and the guarding of the archives to be transferred to the National Archives Building were referred to the special assistant for study and report. Work done may be summarized as follows:
1. After a survey of archival methods in various depositories in Washington, New York, Boston, and Hartford, a series of reports were made on stack arrangement, drawers and containers, shelving, and a variety of construction features relating thereto. These matters were taken up with the Office of the Supervising Architect, and changes recommended by the Archivist were effected in the plans and specifications for proposed equipment.
2. Upon the discovery of certain weaknesses in the proposed plan for guarding and protecting records deposited in the National Archives Building, an extensive preliminary survey was made of a wide variety of suggested stack-protection methods. The construction engineer and the Supervising Architect and members of his staff cooperated in these initial studies, and the architect of the building was authorized to make a complete restudy of the problem. This study, as developed by the consulting engineer, provided for a combination of watchmen, burglar alarms, and fire-protection and fire