Stratford Historical Society and Museum

News from the Stratford Historical Society and Museum, in Stratford, Gippsland, Victoria. We are open Tuesdays from 10am to 3pm, and the fourth Sunday of the month from 2pm to 4pm. Our postal address is P.O. Box 145, Stratford, 3862.

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Location: Victoria, Australia

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How We Organise the Collection

We have been asked by another local Society to talk about how we organise our collection. So this is just some brief pointers.

We catalogue on InMagic v.10, with one database that includes everything. Numbers are issued from a single register, with blocks being set aside in the register for certain types of items, such as photographs.

Basically, the collection is divided roughly into:

Three dimensional objects (includes books that are not about the local area, and any photographs that are framed)

Photographs - only those on photographic paper - not photocopies

Digital Photographs - where they initially only exist on the hard drive of the computer

Manuscript Files



Local Books / Reference Library

Three dimensional objects

These items are either on display, or in storage. For those on display we use a numerical location code: 01.02 is the second wall on the left in the first room, when you walk in the front door. This is backed up with a map. 01a is fixture (eg glass cabinet) in the first room, according to the map.

The great majority of our items are in storage, in boxes. These are either SB001 etc, or LB001 etc. SB is a Storage Box, LB is a Little Box (eg for coins, medals etc). Items too large for the boxes are on the shelves in the shed, with a shelf bay number. Things to big to go on shelves are just in the back of the shed (03.03), and are pretty easy to find.


This photograph shows our objects storage boxes in the shed. We know they are not archivally perfect, but they are better off than they were. We will work towards better boxes. This shelf is now temporarily curtained, to allow a backdrop for the display in front of it.

You might notice small framed photographs in an open box on centre bottom shelf. This just gets a SB number, and we know where to find them. It does take a little bit of management to always get light boxes on top - single depth shelves would be better thoughout, but this also lets us store some larger items.

Photographs - only those on photographic paper - not photocopies

Photographs are divided into locations, and the sheets on which they are fixed have the number written on them in pencil. The Dargo photos, for example, start at P-DAR001, the next sheet is P-DAR002 etc. All localities have this three letter location, except Stratford, which is divided up again. P-STR-CHU003 is the third sheet in for Stratford Churches. If a photograph of the same church comes along after the first cataloguing, it goes in at P-STR-CGU003a etc.

Again - they get a Register Number when first catalogued, but are filed according to their location.

All these are in drop files, mounted on acid-free card, in appropriate clear covers, in filing cabinets.

Digital Photographs - where they
initially only exist on the hard drive of the computer

They are given file names that correspond to their register number (yes, they are registered), and filed in the computer in that order. P03684VSFH.jpg is an example of the name of a Digital Photo. All our photographs of objects are named the same way, and it is important to have our four-letter identification code in there in case our material is ever filed in a database with others.

This not the digital copies of photographs that already exist in the collection, and have been copied.

Manuscript Files

Stratford already had an extensive Manuscript File when cataloguing started, with no organisation apart from a rough alphabetical series. There was also a "Miscellaneous File" for each letter of the alphabet.

The first thing we did was create one catalogue record in which we listed the name of all files, except the Miscellaneous ones. This means when we search the catalouge, we are immediately told there is, for example, a Wuillemin family file.

Slight Digression Here: This form of cataloguing relies heavily on all family names and all place names appearing in the description field)

The next step was to catalogue each Miscellaneous File, one catalogue entry to each file, so we knew what was in each. This was a brief description of the contents, not a full listing of all names.

Some time in the future we need to start working through each of the named files, and describing the contents in them, giving each file its own catalogue record.


The Archives is a series of boxes in the shed. This is the Minute Books, cricket scores, shop day books, pasted newspaper clippings books etc etc - things too large to go in Manuscript Files. We created one catalogue record for the whole series, and roughly list the contents box by box (starting from AB001) in that. Although a few major items that have come in lately also have their own catalogue record. Some day each item in the boxes will have its own record.


This shows our Archives series, in the shed, with some framed items stored beside them. That spot in the shelves has a number designated to it (03.02.04). The boxes came to us from the Public Record Office, as we are a POD (Place of Deposit)


Maps are stored in the map drawers, and are not yet catalogued. We have rough-sorted them so the local ones are at the top of the top drawer. They may then get a Location Number like the photographs - only starting M-DAR001 etc

Local Books / Reference Library

We have roughly divided up our locations. We use books from the former Shire of Avon most, so that is one section. The next is "Rest of Wellington Shire", then there is "East Gippsland", "Rest of Gippsland" and "Gippsland General".

There is no sorting within these divisions, except small books with no spine go in Pamphlet Boxes (PB001), which also have their geographic area written on them.

The Catalogue location for each appears as "Bookshelf-Avon Shire" or "Bookshelf-PB001". No - the PBs are not in order.

Stratford Historical Museum

This is our reference books (with some POD books from the Public Record Office top left), just after we moved back into the museum. It is now much fuller, with piles of items waiting to move on to their ultimate location. However newsletters will stay up on top, and the two top centre shelves remain as reference books.

The key to the whole system - have it written up on the wall somewhere what SB, PB, LB, AB, P- etc stand for.

It is also useful to have a list pasted up of what the Manuscript Files are, and what the Photograph areas are - especially as, for example, Perry Bridge photographs (P-PER) covers Ramahyuck and Strathfieldsaye.

It works for us - and the Maffra System is almost identical, except the Manuscript Files have been put together in a different way, and are just numbered from 1.


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