Some thoughts on the RPG Archives and Museum and a Finding Aid Prototype

by Victoria Jesswein published 2020/08/16 09:32:00 GMT-7, last modified 2020-08-16T09:39:08-07:00
I've been thinking about the best way to intellectually organize the RPG Research Archives in a way that works for all material, including what is produced and stored here on the website and physical collections, and which also allows for the accessioning of new material as the collections grow.

I think it is best to think of RPG Research as one overarching umbrella organization from which material originates (or is donated to, in the case of outside material), and should therefore be organized in a way that encompasses the whole of the material that pertains to the organization, be that donated items, physical material from RPG Research, and the material posted here on the website. Like every museum, we're not going to want/be able to put every single thing on display, and will have to decide what is most relevant/interesting for that side of the project, but we still need a total archive of everything. Who knows what might be relevant for a future researcher! 

I've started to put together finding aids that arrange all the material intellectually. Obviously the website material is going to differ a lot in the way it is organized and accessed than physical stuff, so the finding aid isn't going to be as specific, and I'm not sure there's a good way to assign call numbers for that material (i.e. blogs and articles -- my fellow archivists may have some better ideas). 

I've mocked up 3 finding aids for 3 "collections" -- the material on the website, RPG Research's physical material (Hawke's personal collection), and the donated material from Paul Cardwell (the precedent for future donations)

**Some notes**

There is the possibility of some terminology problems-- in archival science the term “Collection” (or “File” or “Folder”) =/= how Plone uses those terms

It's going to be impossible to do more remotely until everything has been scanned, or someone is able to work physically with the material. 

I've just created a basic call number system which may not be the best; I've just used it for the sake of example.

For non-archivists, the call number gives each content item a unique number,  which shows where it is located, going from most general to most specific. So, for example the number

2020/02/1/1/1 denotes the (hypothetical) "Correspondence to/from Paul Cardwell dated 1983-1985" in Collection 2020/02 / Box 1/ File 1 

[EDIT: Something like this should also work well when we move from Plone to Odoo, because Odoo allows for a nice hierarchical structure]

Also note that intellectual arrangement is not the same as physical arrangement. In a perfect world, we'd have a series of correspondence that fit perfectly into one box. What actually happens, of course, is that we have a series of correspondence that takes up the first box and then spills over into the second box, the rest of which contains a different series, say of books. We want to keep the books intellectually separate from the correspondence, even though they are occupying the same physical space. I have, however, sort of combined them for simplicity right now:

Fonds (Collection)
Series (Box)
File (Folders, if there are any)
Item (Individual content items, we may not describe everything at this level)

Here's an example of a finding aid for the website material:

Collection: RPG Research (dot) com

Dates: c. 1977-2020

Repository: RPG Research, Online only

Collection Number: 2020/01

Provenance: This collection represents the contents on RPGResearch(dot)com, including articles and presentations by RPG Researchers, articles from external sources, and blogs, news items, and photos related to the activities of RPG Research.
Archivist’s note: This collection has been moved from an old server (www2) to a newer one (w3). Attempts were made to maintain original order and appearance, and dates and ownership reflect the original posting on www2.

Access: No restrictions on public articles, blogs, news items, photos and videos.

Certain articles, unfinished blogs, works-in-progress, and administrative material is restricted to RPG staff. Some material may be made publicly available at a later date

Processed by: RPG research archivists

Historical Note: Since 1983 RPG Research, a 501(c)3 non-profit charity, has been actively researching, aggregating, and openly sharing the latest research on the effects and potential benefits of all role-playing game formats and their potential to achieve goals for educational, entertainment, professional, recreational, social, & therapeutic goals.

 Scope and Content

This collection is composed of material that staff and volunteers at RPG Research have been actively researching and aggregating since 1983 pertaining to the effects and potential benefits of all role-playing game formats and their potential for educational, entertainment, professional, recreational, social, & therapeutic goals.

Series 1: Others’ Research
This series contains articles from sources outside of the RPG Research organization. The articles pertain to role-playing games, including history and development, effect on mental and physical health, role in society, and educational, entertainment, professional, recreational, social, & therapeutic goals.

They are organized by date, or where a date is absent, by title. Articles are tagged and searchable by Benefit, Diagnosis, Discipline, or Population. [It would be great if these could be hyperlinked to the Plone collections that sort by these tags]

Series 2: RPG Research

This series contains articles written by researchers within the RPG Research organization. The articles pertain to role-playing games, including history and development, effect on mental and physical health, role in society, and educational, entertainment, professional, recreational, social, & therapeutic goals.

They are organized by date, or where a date is absent, by title. Articles are tagged and searchable by Diagnosis, Discipline, or Population.  

Series 3: Blogs
This series contains blogs and comments on blogs posted on RPGResearch(dot)com by researchers within RPG Research and other users of the website.

etc. 

 

Then the donated Cardwell collection:

Collection: Cardwell, Paul papers

Dates: ? -2020

Size: ?? Linear feet

Repository: RPG Research, Spokane WA

Collection Number: 2020/02

Provenance: Collection donated by the widow of Paul Cardwell, 2020

Access:

Processed by: RPG Research archivists (Janine, Jennifer, Mark, Victoria)

Biographical Note: Paul Cardwell (b. – 2020) was a researcher and author of the history, development, and use of role-playing games.

 

 

Scope and Content

This collection comprises his self-authored research, research from others, books, newspapers and magazine clippings, gaming materials, and correspondence.

Container List

Box

File/Folder

Contents

Box 1

Folder 1 - Correspondence

[e.g. Correspondence to/from Paul Cardwell dated 1983-1985]

[noteworthy items]

Box 1

Folder 2-

 

 

Box 2

Folder 1

 

 

Box 2

 

 

 

Box 3

 

 

 

 

 And other physical material for example:

Collection: RPG Research Physical collection / Hawke Robinson papers

Dates:

Repository:

Collection Number: 2020/03

Provenance: Collected and donated by Hawke Robinson

Access:

Processed by:

Historical note:

 

Series 1: Gaming material
Series 2: Books
etc.

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