Friday, September 11, 2015

New Accessions: Oregon Public Health Association Records

Another week has flown by at Historical Collections & Archives.  We’ve been digitizing materials from our LSTA grant-funded project on legacy public health data in Oregon, we’re getting very, very close to finishing our work on the AAOF grant to digitize a longitudinal growth study, and we’ve been busy processing collections, creating finding guides and working on exhibits!

Brochure and Board Binder
For this week I want to show off a collection we accessioned in the beginning of the year.  This collection came from the Executive Board of the Oregon Public Health Association and contains the records of the professional association in paper and digital form.

Records in Record Cartons
The Oregon Public Health Association was started in 1944 by a group of dedicated people working in public health.  OPHA was incorporated as a 501(c)3 charitable non-profit association in 2000 and is affiliated with the American Public Health Association, the largest public health association in the nation.  For more information on OPHA, please visit their website:

Our collection covers the years 2007 – 2013 approximately.  The materials came to us in great original order (the order of the creators and custodians of the materials) and in great condition, making this collection a great candidate for a quick inventory, highlighting the major records series (groups of records such as meeting minutes, membership rosters, correspondence, etc.), and rehousing in archival-quality folders and boxes for long term preservation.

Digital materials. 
There’s a couple of things here I would like to highlight as potential “access points” for you, dear readers.  For instance, the collection contains a “wide” variety of digital materials as well as physical.  I say “wide” because it contains 2 x 3.5” diskettes, 2 cdrs, and one jump drive.  During processing we will transfer the files from the media to our secure digital repository.  From there we’ll run a number of analysis and preservation programs on the materials to ensure we know exactly what we have, that we have an index of what we have, and that we have a master copy as well as an access copy.  The other thing these programs accomplish is to create fixity logs of the individual items.  These logs are composed of a series of MD5 checksums, each checksum related to a single electronic file.  The checksum is designed to give one a completely unique alpha-numeric string that when the file is downloaded, transferred or otherwise leaves our control, then the person using could run a checksum against the file to ensure it has not changed, been tampered with, or simply is the same file they had requested.  The other benefit of these checksums is that it gives us a systematic method for ensuring authenticity.  Programs and systems exist which regularly run these checksums on each document and when they get checksum that does not match the original one created during accessioning, an error message is created to alert the archivist (or who ever is watching) that there is potential authenticity issue.  Our system does not do that currently, but we can check authenticity at any time using this method as long as the checksum was stored upon ingest.

Other, potentially more interesting/less jargony, aspects of the collection include this breakdown of its general contents (please note: this is a basic intellectual understanding of the contents of the collection and not a detailed description, finding aid or even a strict inventory):

Board Binders (these contain board meeting minutes, board positions/rosters, membership info, bylaws and financial records)
            Grant records
            Retreat records
            Annual meeting records, flyers, brochures and other publications

Files - Soon they will all be titled!
The collection is currently in two records cartons (12”x10”x15” boxes) with the materials in date order.  There are one or two accruals already for this collection, so stay tuned as we add some materials from Dr. Ken Rosenberg to this collection, at which point we’ll aim for processing in full and creating a finding aid.  But don’t let that deter you from dropping by* to see the materials, this collection is open and available for research.

Till next time,

*Please make an appointment  =)

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