The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 18, Number 7
Nov 1994


Records in Architectural Offices: Suggestions for the Organization, Storage and Conservation of Architectural Office Archives, by Nancy Carlson Schrock and Mary Campbell Cooper. Massachusetts: Massachusetts Committee for the Preservation of Architectural Records, 3rd ed., 1992. $12 + $3 P&H from Mass COPAR, PO Box 129, Cambridge, MA 01242. Alkaline paper.

Reviewed by Tawny Ryan Nelb*
*Archivist and Architectural Records Consultant, Midland, Michigana

It is perhaps unfair of me to review this monograph since I already recommend it to clients and participants in my architectural records workshops. The third edition of Records in Architectural Offices: Suggestions for the Organization, Storage and Conservation of Architectural Office Archives by Nancy Carlson Schrock and Mary Campbell Cooper, and published by the Massachusetts Committee for the Preservation of Architectural Records, does exactly what it aims to do. It provides a framework for architectural firms to begin to care for their records, long term. This is not a small undertaking, since for most architectural firms, faced with the daily grind of deadlines and competition for design business, records preservation isn't even on their priority list. Records in Architectural Offices encourages architects to make a commitment to their records by providing enough information to start them on the process without giving overwhelming amounts of archival jargon and requirements.a

At the same time, the book is also a valuable resource for archivists and conservators who may be simply trying to understand what architectural and other design records are all about. Although the authors assume the reader already knows some of the architectural lexicon like "as-built" and "value engineering," they do explain the types of records firms create and the problems inherent with this material. Since there is currently no manual for archivists on identification, preservation and access to architectural records, this is one of the very few sources of practical suggestions and guidance to understanding these specialized records.a

This short book (44 pages) is organized into five major sections. The first section, "Current Practice," covers the types of records, organization of project information, records retention, storage, firms of different sizes, and examples of records systems in use. The section on "Organizing Office Records" discusses the general principles of records management, the value of records management, implementation of a records program, organizing drawings, vital records, and organization of the archives. "Preserving Office Records" covers the various types of materials created in architects offices, such as written documents, drawings, computer records, photographs, microforms, and then covers reformatting for preservation, environment and storage, and a summary of recommendations.a

A section on "Resources" follows, with a list of vendors of archival materials, supportive associations, and citations for relevant publications in records management and conservation. A lengthy "Appendices" section on records management has been added in this third edition, providing sample project filing systems, retention schedules, and an inventory form. This is another area sorely in need of written guidelines and although some narrative would have been helpful in the appendices for those archivists and conservators beyond the preliminary stage, it does help archivists address appraisal questions. It is presented simply and clearly for architects to use in their daily work and the schedules guide architects in understanding which records are important to keep permanently for their own liability protection.a

This latest edition carefully updates new technology and adds a unique and useful time line to show the various media and supports used over time to create architectural drawings. Records in Architectural Offices is an extension of the Massachusetts Committee for the Preservation of Architectural Records' commitment to preserving architectural records and is a valuable resource for anyone creating or caring for architectural records.a

Fundamentals of Photograph Conservation: A Study Guide, by Klaus B. Hendriks, Brian Thurgood, Joe Iraci, Brian Lesser, and Greg Hill. 1991. Lugus Productions Ltd., 48 Falcon St., Toronto, ON M4S 2P5, Canada (416/322-5113, fax 484-9512). 560 pp., soft cover, acid-free paper. ISBN 0-921633-80-7. $195.50, + GST in Canada $13.69, + handling and delivery $5.*

Reviewed by Kathy Henderson, Australian War Memorial

* Reprinted with permission from the AICCM National Newsletter, March 1994, p. 10.a

To my knowledge this is the only book written by a conservator for conservators about photographic conservation techniques. It is a coveted book in my workplace; to write even this minimal review I had to prise the book away from my colleagues many times. Chapter headings are:a

Photographic Conservation Training Program
Darkroom and Laboratory Equipment and Procedures
Light Sensitive Materials: Theory, Structure, and Deterioration Mechanisms

Black and White Processing
Historical Processes
Duplication and Copying
Paper Conservation Treatments as Applied to Photographs: A Review
Chemical Treatments
Preservation, Storage, and Display of Photographs
Tests for Image Stability and Suitability of Conservation Materials
Condition Reports, Treatment Proposals, and Collection Preservation Surveys
Bibliography (30 pages)

The sections I have read are clear and understandable with many photographs, diagrams, and references at the end of each chapter. The book really could be used as an informal study course with experiments given in the chapters on black-and-white processing, historical processes, copying, chemical treatments, storage, and stability tests.a

Overall, an expensive book but certainly useful and unique. If you can only afford one book on photographic conservation this should be it.a

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