Kia whakarite, kia whakamārama, kia tauhere ki te ao

Welcome to a sixth annual glimpse of highlights from the Arrangement and Description Team. As before, we have tried to pick favourites to share with you, but processing a fascinating, diverse, and challenging range of collections and projects makes it very difficult to choose … nevertheless we hope this blog gives you an insight into the range of skills required to ensure ‘unpublished collections’ are made discoverable for the benefit of all, and housed or filed for safe storage. Fresh touches this year are the team whakatauākī, above, which means “to arrange, to describe, to connect with the world” and was gifted to us by Ariana Tikao, and the inclusion of Nicola Frean, our team leader, to round out the profile of the team.


Catherine Bisley – Librarian

Catherine Bisley By Sascha NoldenCatherine Bisley (photograph by Sascha Nolden)

This year the majority of my time has been spent working on the photographic collection of iconic documentary photographer and Renaissance Man, Francis Leslie Cleveland (better known as Les). This is a large and complex collection containing thousands of prints and even more negatives. The prints include vintage prints (prints made by the photographer within two years of the original negative being created), mounted exhibition prints, and commercially printed photographs. The negatives come in all shapes and sizes and are on both glass and film supports. Other photographic formats represented include transparencies, photograph albums, lever arch files holding 35mm negatives and their corresponding proof sheets, and Cleveland’s own index to his negatives (which often, helpfully, have a contact print attached).

Working on a large collection such as this one is both rewarding and challenging. Figuring out and maintaining how a collection was organised and used, is one of the great joys of the archivist’s process. It was quite complicated for this collection, particularly with previous accessions to incorporate into the finding aid, and the new accrual including both working and personal files. What a relief we can work with series and subseries in Tiaki! This collection included numerous prints and negatives which were stored together. These had to be separated for conservation purposes: 2018 saw Tiaki’s “Separated materials” field getting a workout.

It has been fascinating to gain insight into what caught Cleveland’s eye across a long career; which subjects and locations he chose to photograph more than once, and those photographs he kept returning to and printing over the years. The deeper you go into a collection, the better you understand it: it’s fair to say that, at this point, my head is saturated with Cleveland’s images. I’m not quite finished working with the collection but, whether it was in Lisbon, Albuquerque, or Hokitika, I can tell you that Cleveland loved to photograph shop window displays, signs, graffiti, street scenes, and other markings of urban life. There are a healthy abundance of billy boiling scenes and numerous photographs of his family, in particular his wife, Mary and children Edward and Peter.

Cleveland served in World War Two and camaraderie is a theme that reappears in his work, whether he’s photographing meatshooters or mountaineers. There are numerous photographs of mountaineering and skiing in the collection (a low point for this archivist was getting visually lost in the many peaks of the Southern Alps). And then, of course, there are Cleveland’s photographs of the West Coast, made famous in his 1966 publication The Silent Land.

After spending time with the photographs Cleveland took on his 15 trips to the United States, I desperately want to visit New Mexico and Arizona (though I do also feel like I’ve been already). I was recently in Wilmington, North Carolina. Walking along the riverside (as seen on Dawson’s Creek, for any fans out there) I was surprised to see a giant warship, the USS North Carolina, looming on the other side of the Cape Fear River. Returning to work, I found myself on board the ship. Cleveland visited Wilmington 30 years before me and extensively photographed his tour of the museum ship!

Finally, I want to acknowledge the work my colleagues Flora Feltham and Susan Skudder have done on this collection.

Kirsty Cox – Research Librarian, Digital Materials and EMu Administrator

Kirsty Cox By Dolores HoyKirsty Cox (photograph by Dolores Hoy)

As part of my specialist role as Research Librarian Digital Materials, the most exciting development in the last year has been the revised guidelines for how we describe born-digital materials. The aim of this is to improve the clarity and usefulness of finding aids and promote consistency of description of born-digital unpublished material.

This was done for two reasons: firstly, our recently installed unpublished Collection Management System (CMS) aka Tiaki is compliant with the international standard EAD (Encoded Archival Description, Version 2002) and as a result better supports born-digital archival description; and secondly, there have been recent improvements to guidelines for describing born-digital content in archival finding aids.

Many of the existing recommendations for describing born-digital material could not be implemented within our previous CMS called TAPUHI, which was focused on physical/analogue unpublished materials. There was little room for born-digital description and consequently we had to utilise some fields such as ‘Physical Description’ which did not fit well for obvious reasons.

I recall with equal parts excitement and disappointment the 2007 release of the PARADIGM (Personal Archives Accessible in Digital Media): Workbook on Personal Digital Archives by the Bodleian Library which had a whole chapter dedicated to arrangement and description. However at the time the suggested EAD templates they provided within the chapter were pipe dreams for us as an organisation to utilise.

More recently the University of California (UC) has developed an award-winning UC Guidelines for Born-Digital Archival Description, which is mapped to EAD. This is freely available on GitHub for other organisations to utilise. This provided us with the impetus we needed to revise our practices within Tiaki, our EAD compliant CMS.

Both the Paradigm and UC Guidelines have helped inform how we now describe born-digital unpublished materials at the Alexander Turnbull Library. The biggest change is that we now describe born-digital materials in a field called ‘Material Specific’. Not only is this more appropriate but we also now follow the guidelines by explicitly stating the original file format of the digital materials we describe, along with their official PRONOM file format name and file extension.

With these improved descriptive guidelines we hope that researchers now and in the future can easily access and understand the nature of the born-digital materials which we preserve as part of our unpublished collections.

Dolores Hoy – Research Librarian, Digital Materials

Dolores Hoy By Sascha NoldenDolores Hoy (photograph by Sascha Nolden)

One of the aspects of our work that I most enjoy is the opportunity to learn. This year I got an insight into the use of the Pro Tools digital audio workstation through my work on an accrual to the collection of composer and musician Matthew Davidson. Although Davidson lives overseas, he grew up in New Zealand, and the foundation for his career in music was laid in the New Zealand music scene.

Since 1996, the Archive of New Zealand Music in the Alexander Turnbull Library has collected his papers, sound recordings and digital files, including a donation of Pro Tools files relating to his 2008 CD release Talencourt. The Pro Tools system of software and hardware is a prominent player in the music recording industry. Davidson donated various session folders from the Talencourt recordings. I found it fascinating to learn about the structure and protocols of the Pro Tools folder and file workflow, and hear unpublished instrumental tracks which made up the finished product.

Win Lynch – Librarian

Win Lynch By Sascha NoldenWin Lynch (photograph by Sascha Nolden)

My favourite project this year is working on the 1970s to 1980s section of the Ans Westra collection of photographs held in the Alexander Turnbull Library.

The images are a fascinating kaleidoscope of life in New Zealand showing people of all ages and nationalities, but with special emphasis on Māori. Ans Westra focussed on Māori in many different settings, including just shopping in Cuba Mall, or attending the opening of a new marae.

One aspect of my work involves research, as Ans Westra was far more interested in photographing people watching events than in showing what and where they were. This is the exciting part, the jigsaw puzzle search, which is essential as it is impossible to find an image without words. Therefore my project work with the Ans Westra photographic collection is all about enhancing the finding aid metadata to improve discoverability.

Merryn McAulay – Librarian

Merryn McAulay By Sascha NoldenMerryn McAulay (photograph by Sascha Nolden)

I have chosen to highlight the Colleen Foley-Smith collection relating to the career of her father the tenor Daniel Foley (1901-1983). This collection is part of the Archive of New Zealand Music and was donated to the Library by Foley-Smith in 2018. I think it is a really nice example of a relatively small collection with much variety in the type of material it contains. Within the one box received by the Library were photographs, manuscripts, printed material, and sound recordings, including hand-coloured glass lantern slides, black and white photographic prints, handwritten correspondence, a scrapbook of clippings and ephemera, diaries, notebooks, songbooks, and compact discs.

Sometimes referred to as “New Zealand’s John McCormack”, Dan Foley was a singer of Irish and popular songs. In the 1930s and 1940s he toured performing around Australia and New Zealand. In Brisbane he met and worked with the accompanist Kathleen Dunne whom he later married. In the 1950s Kathleen and Dan Foley managed hotels in the South Island including the Royal Hotel in Blenheim. The lantern slides show posters advertising the Royal Hotel, including performances by Foley.

There is correspondence between Foley and Dunne prior to their marriage, as well as professional correspondence with Australian radio stations and the New Zealand Broadcasting Service (NZBS) along with a large bundle of fan mail received by Foley. Many of the envelopes have been kept and some have been annotated (presumably by Colleen Foley-Smith). The letters were originally organised into bundles and labelled “letters from fans”, or “personal letters” and this order has been retained and expressed as folder titles within the collection.

Dr Sascha Nolden – Research Librarian

Sascha Nolden By Merryn McAulaySascha Nolden (photograph by Merryn McAulay)

This year has once again seen many fascinating collections and items spend time on my workbench as part of Arrangement & Description processing. One of particular interest is a memoir scrapbook diary of a printer and journalist, who served and was wounded at Gallipoli during World War One: Diary of C. J. Claridge 12/977 - Auckland Infantry, August 1914 - January 1916: While serving in the Auckland Infantry Battalion. New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

Cyril James Claridge (12/977) was born in Hawera on 29 January 1890, the son of James Henry and Louisa Mary Claridge of Otorohanga, and worked as a compositor and reporter in Morrinsville prior to enlisting in the Auckland Infantry Battalion, on 27 August 1914, as a Private of the Auckland Infantry Regiment, and serving with the 3rd Company in both Egypt and Gallipoli.

His military records show that he was on active service in New Zealand from his enlistment on 27 August 1914 to his departure on HMNZT No. 12 Waimana on 16 October 1914, and his overseas service ended upon his return to New Zealand on the Ruahine 4 January 1916, before being finally discharged on 13 February 1916 as “medically unfit” for service. This was the result of being wounded at Gallipoli (gunshot wound to right foot), following which he was transported on the HMT Braemar Castle and admitted to St George’s Hospital in Malta on 6 July 1915, and later transported on HMHS Ascania and admitted to First Southern General Hospital in Adgbaston, Birmingham on 22 September 1915. For his military service, Claridge was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, Gallipoli Lapel Badge and Gallipoli Medallion. He died in Auckland at the age of 86, on 12 February 1976.

The memoir scrapbook diary is a most interesting object as it encompasses such varied genres and facets, all in the one volume with accompanying papers originally laid in. The volume comprises Claridge’s own transcription of his original field diary, which spent many decades in the University of Leeds Library collection before being returned to the Alexander Turnbull Library in 2018. However the diary, which relates to his military service, is supplemented, embellished and illustrated with additional material mounted and enclosed, including printed maps and original photographic prints. It also appears to have served as a personal filing repository for later papers, including correspondence, newspaper clippings, Gallipoli anniversary event ephemera, and later manuscripts. One of these manuscripts gives an account of early childhood memories of Browns Bay, on the North Shore of Auckland.

Dr Susan Skudder – Research Librarian

Susan Skudder By Sascha NoldenSusan Skudder (photograph by Sascha Nolden)

There are no boring collections. Every collection I have arranged and described tells a story about people, organisations, places, or events large and small. But some collections leave a deeper impression than others.

This year I had the privilege of creating descriptive records for the Cambodian women in New Zealand oral history project interviews. This collection comprises interviews with 10 Cambodian women who lived through the Cambodian genocide under the Khmer Rouge and came to New Zealand as refugees in the 1980s. Niborom Young, a Cambodian who was living in New Zealand when the Khmer Rouge closed the country’s borders to the outside world, conducted the interviews in the women’s native tongue, Khmer, and created translated transcripts. Niborom later produced a book based on the interviews, I Tried Not to Cry. The Journeys of Ten Cambodian Refugee Women.

In order to create the descriptive records for each interview, I read the translated transcripts. I was profoundly moved by the women’s stories, and their courage and resilience in not only surviving Khmer Rouge rule and life in refugee camps and then committing to life in a new country, but also choosing to look back at their past so that others could know about their lives and what happened to them. It also made me appreciate how difficult it must have been for Niborom to listen to the tapes many times in order to create the transcripts.

In the Arrangement & Description team we do our best to provide description of the archives in the Library’s care that respects their essence and faithfully represents them to the world. I hope my descriptive work will enable a wider appreciation of these remarkable women, their stories, and their equally remarkable interviewer and translator, Niborom Young.

This collection was recently inscribed on the Aotearoa New Zealand Register of the UNESCO Memory of the World.

Ariana Tikao – Research Librarian, Māori

Ariana Tikao By Michael BrownAriana Tikao (photograph by Michael Brown)

One of my favourites from this year was the collection of anthropologist and author, Margaret Orbell (1934-2006). Orbell wrote books relating to Māori and Pacific waiata and other topics, and was the editor of ‘Te Ao Hou’ in the 1960s. Some of the items that most interested me were letters written by some of New Zealand’s leading artists and writers including Colin McCahon, Wiremu Parker, Rowley Habib, and Witi Ihimaera.

Amongst the letters was one from Richard Nunns, one of the leaders of the taonga puoro (Māori musical instruments) revival. I am a player of taonga puoro, and was fortunate enough to be mentored by Nunns, so this letter was an exciting find for me. In the letter, he mentions that they were about to have a hui at Te Araroa in 1985 – which went on to become an important gathering for the revival. In the letter he enquired about whether she knew of any appropriate waiata to be accompanied by the percussion instrument ‘pākuru’. Orbell notes in annotations on the letter that she referred Nunns to an Augustus Hamilton publication that included a waiata to be sung with the rhythms of the pākuru. The collection also includes an annotated copy of this waiata on lecture notes from Orbell’s lecturing days at Canterbury University.

In the pictorial component there are many wonderful photographs of Māori whare, carvings, and taonga which will be a delight for researchers to discover. I particularly appreciated the care she took with regard to Māori tikanga, in her work practise. An example of this is evident in her notes to the designer of the book ‘Bird lore of the Māori’. She tells them to place the image of a food container below that of a Māori man (so as not to put a food related item above his head, which is the most tapu part of one’s body). I checked in the published book, and indeed the designer had followed her instructions.

Nicola Frean – Leader Arrangement & Description

Nicola Frean By Dolores HoyNicola Frean (photograph by Dolores Hoy)

Thank you Sascha, for persuading me to contribute to our A&D blog this year. I’ve stayed behind the scenes in other years as I don’t spend a lot of time on specific collections, trying rather to make sure our team has what they need. My contribution to the blog will therefore be an ode to our work more generally, and a few highlights from my perspective. Maybe every sixth year is right for this!

In A&D, our role is to communicate the ‘unpublished' collections to people who might find them useful. We’re like Turnbull’s engine-room! This includes sharing the materials' context; or rather, contexts, such as descriptions of who created something (also where when and why); their life; the custodial history; any permission processes; and how these all relate to other records in our system. Our goal is to make things discoverable and usable. I love that the UNESCO Memory of the World guidelines [PDF] include “Everyone has the right to an identity, and therefore the right of access to their documentary heritage. This includes the right to know it exists, and where to find it.”

We work with all kinds of material, analogue and digital, brought in by the curators at the Turnbull Library (Music; Maps; Cartoons; Drawings paintings and prints; Ephemera; Manuscripts; Photographic; Oral history and sound; Rare books; Māori). My role is a mix of corralling, facilitating, representing, harmonising, developing, encouraging, improving, and trying to measure the impact, of work by a team of eight people in A&D (6.2 FTEs). It also includes such practicalities as acquiring anti-fatigue rubber mats for people to stand on while working, or smaller keyboards and vertical mice for them to input with!

This year has had many highlights, including progressing an international code for the Moriori language (in relation to songs in the Margaret Orbell Collection), giving feedback to the British Library about our database system replacement, and participating in an Optical Facial Recognition project relating to some of our cartes de visite. Among other highlights have been: seeing researchers like Dr Melodee Beals make Digital Humanities use of our whole datasets, seeing our manuals refreshed, introducing georeferencing, working with donors (e.g. Te Upoko o te Ika radio station, photographer Max Oettli, Flying Nun …) to enhance lists of their collections, and being able to welcome an intern from EIT-Te Ara Pourewa. Finally, not really a highlight but definitely notable, was the retirement of Tim Lovell-Smith in March, after a whopping thirty-one years of service. Tim tells me his favourite collection this year would have been that of Helen Brew - “the sorting of a confused and damaged collection of material into an organised and coherent series was an engrossing challenge, I hope that my successor in completing this work will find it to be helpful.” Arohanui Tim.

Probably my own favourite activity lately has been working with Photographic Archive Curator Natalie Marshall, to make sets of negative registers discoverable. These were logbooks kept by various photographers (for example, the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers, and Gladys Goodall) to record their daily business. If a photographer’s negatives later came to the Library, these logbooks often accompanied them, and they became invaluable staff tools over the years. Giving these items descriptive records of their own now means that they too will be able to be requested, cited, digitised, discovered and used!

By Sascha Nolden

Sascha is a Research Librarian in the Arrangement & Description team at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Post a Comment

(will not be published) * indicates required field
David Jones December 18th at 3:29PM

Aw, you all look amazing, and the new work place, areas and collections look stunning! Meri, meri kirihimete me ngā mihi mō te tau hou Pākehā!

Ruth MacEachern December 19th at 1:29PM

Congratulations to the team on a fascinating read. In addition to the fullsome descriptions of selected collections, it was also very interesting to learn about the changes to archival tools & practices. Great to progress on geo-referencing and digital humanities, and to have more oral histories available. The richness and diversity of the collections, and the broad skill sets of the staff really shone through this post.

Well done, and all the best for 2019 - Ruth

Mary HayNational Library December 19th at 5:09PM

Thankyou DJ and best wishes back. Ngā mihi harikoa mo te wā kitihimete.